In brief exits

UBS and Goldman Sachs have begun pre-marketing the IPO of Micro Focus. The offer is set to raise around £66m through the issue of primary stock and a further £27m through the sale of secondary stock from Golden Gate Capital and Parallax Capital Partners. The deal is expected to comprise the minimum 25% of the company allowed for listing, and the group will achieve a market capitalisation of around £370m. Pre-marketing is expected ahead of two weeks of bookbuilding, with pricing in early May.

  • EQT is selling portfolio company FlexLink in a secondary buyout to ABN AMRO Capital. EQT acquired 90% of the shares in FlexLink from AB SKF in August 1997. Several company acquisitions have been carried out during EQT’s ownership, as well as investments to develop new products. The number of sale offices has also almost doubled during EQT’s time as owner. In 2004, sales at FlexLink amounted to SKr1.1bn and Ebitda to SKr153m. These were increases of 11% and 31%, respectively, compared with the previous year. Jan Stahlberg, a partner at EQT Partners, said: “FlexLink has developed under EQT’s ownership from a divisional structure within the SKF Group into a global independent and leading automation group.”
  • PPM Ventures, the UK mid-market private equity firm, has recuperated more than five times its money with the sale of Astron Group to trade buyer RR Donnelley for £520m. Astron, a business outsourcing service provider, was bought out in 2000, backed by a £50m investment from PPM. This is PPM’s third exit of the year, following on from disposals of Roventa and Finnish Chemicals. James Barton, head of business services and a director at PPM, described Astrom as a classic buy-and-build investment. After the acquisition, PPM initiated a £92m merger of Astron with Tactica Solutions, an existing portfolio company that operated previously as HMSO. Since then Astron has made a further four acquisitions, developing into a leading European document BPO player.
  • Barclays Private Equity and Invex Capital sold their stakes in DCK Concessions to Bank of Scotland Integrated Finance in a £55m deal. The exit generated an IRR of 50% for Barclays Private Equity. DCK Concessions, a UK-based jewellery and accessories concession retailer, has grown significantly since the original management buyout in March 2003, with profits nearly doubling from £4.4m to £8.3m during this period. The number of concessions has also grown by approximately 80% from 1,900 to 3,429 at exit. The board appointed Steve Longdon as chief executive officer in August last year, with Alan Witzenfeld, co-founder of DCK, taking the role of executive chairman.
  • The announcement of the mandate for the revived IPO of Gala Bingo is still awaited. Deutsche Bank, Merrill Lynch and UBS have been mentioned as front runners for the deal.