Electra targets distressed sellers for deals

Britain’s Electra Private Equity said it is back targeting distressed sellers for new deals after a year of firefighting to protect investments and limit declines in asset valuations.

The listed private equity company, whose largest investments include animal identification tags business Allflex and feminine hygiene products company Lil-lets, said on December 1 its net asset value (NAV) per share at end September was 4.5% lower than a year ago at 1,720 pence.

“With a stable portfolio, our manager is not firefighting and can devote its energies to seeking new opportunities,” Electra Chairman Brian Williamson said in a statement.

After a year of focusing on protecting its existing portfolio, Electra is eyeing distressed sellers across the capital structure, including equity owners and debt holders.

With rival bidders curbed by a shortage of capital, Electra is targeting deals such as restructuring situations, buyouts, investment in public companies and the purchase of debt.

The firm invested just £88m in a second slow year, compared with £322m in 2007. Its largest deals included an investment in German private equity firm Steadfast Capital and investments in distressed debt.

Electra realised just £27m from the sale of quoted investments and positions in private equity funds to other investors — compared with £192m the previous year.

Despite efforts to protect its investments, the firm still lost control of its largest portfolio company, office supplies business Vasanta, to lenders and distressed company specialist Endless in July