In brief top news

Doughty Hanson, a European private equity firm, has acquired KP1, a French industrial group, for approximately €400m (US$513m), according to a source close to the deal. Equity in the transaction was approximately €135m, added the source. Calyon was the lead arranger of debt financing. Management rolled over its stake to take a 25% interest in the company.

Headquartered in Avignon, KP1 is a manufacturer of prefabricated and pre-stressed concrete products, focusing on floors and structural systems for the building industry. KP1 is Doughty Hanson’s second acquisition in France, following its purchase of Saft, a high-end industrial battery manufacturer, for €410m in January 2004.

  • HR Owen, a UK car dealer, has confirmed that chief executive Nicholas Lancaster has terminated plans for a management buyout of the business. The board of HR Owen said that Lancaster has reserved the right to reconsider making a proposal if a third party offer is forthcoming. The luxury car dealer said that it would continue its stated strategy of returning surplus funds to shareholders following a series of strategic disposals, including car dealerships and brands.
  • UK engineering group AMEC has been approached by US buyout fund Texas Pacific Group and private equity house First Venture Corp regarding a possible takeover. Following market speculation of a 450p per share offer last weekend, Texas Pacific and First Venture confirmed their approach to AMEC with respect to a recommended transaction. They added that the board had declined to provide access. AMEC declined to comment on the approach.
  • Carlyle Group has completed the secondary buyout of Advanced Communications and Information Systems (ACIS) from Inflexion Private Equity. Warwick-based ACIS provides passenger information systems for public transport. Inflexion bought the business in April 2005 for £25m (US$47m). ACIS then bought Tandata Systems in October 2005, giving it a presence in the airport, train and bus station markets. The deal comes at the end of a dual-track disposal led by Investec Corporate Finance. Jones Day, Grant Thornton and PwC advised.
  • Apax Partners has confirmed that printing services group The Stationery Office, one of the last state-owned assets privatised by John Major’s Conservative Government in 1996, will change hands again after logistics group Williams Lea won the auction for the company. In 1999, venture capitalist Apax Partners spent £82m (US$153m) acquiring a 71% stake in the business. Earlier this year it appointed UBS to conduct an auction of the group and Williams Lea emerged as the only remaining bidder last month.