In brief exit strategies

Applus Servicios Tecnológicos, a testing, inspection and certification provider controlled by Spain’s AGBAR group (53.1%), has acquired RTD (Röntgen Technische Dienst), a Dutch expert in industrial X-ray testing and inspection services, from ABN AMRO Capital for €193m. Buyout group ABN AMRO Capital acquired RTD from Lloyds Register in 2002.

RTD employs 1,100 staff and expects to achieve an Ebitda of €20m on revenues of about €150m in 2006. RTD’s clients are active, among other areas, in the offshore and onshore oil, gas and petrochemical industries, the chemical industry, the energy sector (including nuclear power stations), and the construction of pipelines and aircraft.

AGBAR was originally a Spanish water utility known as Aguas de Barcelona and has been transformed into a holding company for 230 subsidiaries focusing on areas related to community services, including water utilities, health, inspection and certification, construction and installations, transport and maintenance.

  • The IPO of Debenhams has begun to warm up a little, although bankers insisted that it was far too early to say definitively whether there was yet a deal on the table. There are four bookrunners mandated on the deal – Merrill Lynch and Citigroup, which are also joint global co-ordinators, Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse.

The firms working on the deal refused to comment on any details related to the IPO last week, but elsewhere in the market rumours spoke of a possible price range just after mid-April and pricing towards the end of the month or early in May. Investors expect the deal to be mostly primary and to involve just over half the company’s market cap.

Debenhams was bought by CVC, Texas Pacific Group and Merrill Lynch Global Private Equity in December 2003 for £1.7bn.

0French mid-market buyout houses Astorg Partners and 21 Centrale Partners, and Cogepa, the investment company of the Duval-Fleury family, have sold Mecatherm, a French manufacturer of industrial baking equipment, to Alpha Associates.

The company first fell into private equity hands in January 2004, when it was taken off the Paris stock exchange. At that time, Mecatherm recorded revenues of €43m. Its latest report shows revenues of €75m.

“Mecatherm, it is a company that all investors dream of,” said Joel Lacourte, a partner at Astorg. “With unique technologies protected by patents, a tested and rigorous management team, strong growth, a total standardisation of the products, production outsourcing, a very high profitability and cash generation, it is with regret that we see it leaving our portfolio.”