French secondary buyout for EAC

5 a Sec, the world’s largest dry cleaning franchising chain based in France, has been bought by UK-based mid market buyout house, European Acquisition Capital (EAC) in a secondary buyout transaction. The terms were not disclosed. EAC is also currently raising its third fund of euros400 million now that its second fund of euros205 million is 90% invested. The investment in 5 a Sec was made from fund II and fund III.

EAC’s purchase is supported by debt funding packages supplied by BNP Paribas, Caisse D’Epargne France, Credit Lyonnais and Credit du Nord.

EAC bought 5 a Sec from SPEF and BNP Developpement, who backed a management buy-in of the business in 1998. SPEF is an investment bank for small and medium-sized businesses and is the financial engineering firm of the Banques Populaires group. SPEF specialises in venture and development capital and LBOs.

5 a Sec, which operates under the 5 a Sec and Top Net brands, is well established across Europe, as well as France where it has six% of the French market by number of shops. It is also expanding its operations in Asia and South America and the group has a turnover in excess of euro200 million on a total of nearly 1,300 outlets over half of which are located outside France.

Erick Rinner, who led the investment for EAC, will join 5 a Sec’s board.