First Atlantic Puts Prestolite On The Block

U.S. buyout firm First Atlantic Capital has put engineering business Prestolite Electric Inc. up for sale, and the portfolio company could fetch about $400 million, four sources told sister news service Reuters. The sources said New York-based First Atlantic had hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc. as an adviser, and first-round bids were due in early January. The auction could attract bids from other private equity firms.

Goldman Sachs declined to comment. First Atlantic and Prestolite could not immediately be reached for comment. The sources declined to be identified because the discussions were private.

Prestolite, which makes alternators and starter motors for buses and trucks, has operations in Argentina, Britain and the United States, but has seen its strongest sales growth in China, two of the sources said. Wholly owned China subsidiary Prestolite Electric Beijing Ltd had gross sales of over 740 million yuan ($116.5 million) in 2009, with about 10 percent of that from export sales, according to its Web site.

PEBL has annual production of 1 million alternators and 500,000 starter motors. Mid-market buyout specialist First Atlantic acquired Prestolite in 2004, according to the firm’s Web site.

With its focus on heavy engineering sectors, global production and distribution, and strong Asia growth, two of the sources compared Prestolite to Hyva, a Dutch pump maker that U.K. buyout firm 3i Group plc sold to Unitas Capital and NWS Holdings last year for €525 million ($730 million). That deal was financed entirely through a high yield bond, the first deal of its kind for Asia.

(Stephen Aldred is a correspondent for Reuters in Hong Kong; additional reporting by Prakash Chakravarti.)