Frans Bonhomme sells again

Cinven has acquired French pipes distributor Frans Bonhomme in a deal that values the company at around €900m. The secondary deal provides an exit for Apax Partners and co-investors Credit Agricole Private Equity, Goldman Sachs Mezzanine Partners and Quilvest.

Cinven backed the buyout with funds from its €4.4bn third fund, while RBS is providing debt financing. Apax’s advisers included Laurent Baril & Luce Gendry as well as Rothschild, while legal advice was provided by Marcus Billiam & Gilles Lebreton and Clifford Chance. Cinven was advised by Freshfields.

Frans Bonhomme, which achieved turnover of €538m in 2004, has a long history of changing hands between buyout firms. The company was acquired in 1994 by a group comprising Fonds Partenaires, Apax and Gaz et Eaux for US$235m from Bollore Technologies.

Six years later, Cinven had its first brush with the company, when it acquired Frans Bonhomme for US$340m along with Paribas Affaires Industrielles and Astorg.

Current seller Apax and its partners acquired Frans Bonhomme for €520m in July 2003. The company itself bought Subministres en Obres i Terrenys, a Spanish wholesaler of tubes, in August 2004.

“Frans Bonhomme has a strong position in its French domestic market, where there continues to be good potential for the further expansion of its outlets and product ranges,” said Nicolas Paulmier, a partner at Cinven.