French exits from ABN AMRO Capital

ABN AMRO Capital France has exited one investment and partially realised another. The French private equity arm of the bank has sold its 75 per cent interest in Atlantic Zeiser to Orell Fussli, previously a customer of the business. Cogifer, a subsidiary of De Dietrich group, which ABN AMRO Capital France took private two years ago, has been sold to German railway group Vossloh.

ABN AMRO Capital acquired Atlantic Zeiser through a buyout in September 1998. The deal, worth approximately EURO40 million, was supported by debt from Banque Nationale de Paris and the equity syndication included Compagnie Financiere Edmond de Rothschild, EPF Partners and 3i. Atlantic Zeiser is a German business that designs, manufactures and sells printing equipment to the graphics printing industry. Its numbering equipment is used in the production of approximately 98 per cent of the world’s banknotes.

Orell Fussli, a quoted Swiss company with operations that include security printing, publishing and bookshops, has acquired a 75 per cent stake in the company for an undisclosed sum. The management team, led by Walter Klingler, increased its stake from 16 per cent to 25 per cent. ABN AMRO’s Capital’s IRR on the investment is between 20 per cent and 25 per cent.

The vendors were advised by Rothschild & Cie Banque and Hlters une Elsing.

ABN AMRO Capital delisted the French De Dietrich group in a EURO450 million deal two years ago, through newco Societe Industrielle du Hanau (SIH). The group’s activities then spanned three sectors, heating equipment, chemical processing equipment and railway equipment. The railway subsidiary Cogifer produces and installs turnouts, switches, crossings and signalling, as well as laying, renewing and maintaining track. It has been sold to Vossloh for an undisclosed price, subject to regulatory approval expected in late summer. The proceeds will be used to repay bank debt, provided by Natexis Banques Populaire to support the delisting, and boost the development of the company’s other activities. Herve Claquin, CEO of ABN AMRO Capital France, said the investment would be refinanced in early 2003. The fate of the remaining divisions has not yet been decided.

Other shareholders in SIH include Dutch investor NPM Capital, Paul Capital and Rhone Group; ABN AMRO Capital holds 39 per cent, family shareholders 29 per cent and management five per cent. Advisers included Rothschild & Cie Banque and Latham & Watkins.