In brief top news

Carlyle has acquired Cameca, a French manufacturer of semiconductor metrology equipment, in a secondary buyout from Barclays Private Equity, Perfectis Private Equity and a group of individual investors. The acquisition will be made through Carlyle’s European technology fund, Carlyle Europe Venture Partners, which invests in the media, material sciences, communications technology, enterprise and infrastructure software, aerospace and automotive industries.

Vladimir Lasocki, a director of Carlyle, said that Cameca had significant growth potential in both its historical market for scientific instrumentation, where demand is fuelled by the emergence of nanotechnologies, and in the semiconductor industry. Carlyle was advised by Aforge Finance and Latham & Watkins Paris. Fortis Banque France acted as arranger for the debt facilities, while Credit Industriel et Commercial and BNP Paribas acted as co-arrangers.

  • CVC has given up its pursuit of Forbo, the Switzerland-based manufacturer of flooring materials. The firm was thwarted by a lack of support from shareholders. Acquisition vehicle AFB Investment published its public offer for all outstanding shares of Forbo Holding on March 8 and the offer period ended on April 6. CVC’s interest, which had the support of Forbo’s board, had sent the company’s shares sharply upwards in the past few months. Forbo said uncertainties about its future had been eliminated with the discontinuation of the takeover process. It added that the strengthened shareholder basis and the board of directors in its new composition would ensure that Forbo could operate as a public company in the long-term.
  • Thomas H Lee has linked up with US-based Classic Media to consider a rival bid against Apax for HIT Entertainment, the children’s’ entertainment broadcaster. Apax has offered £489m for the firm, which owns brands including Bob the Builder, Pingu and Thomas the Tank Engine. Other bidders could include Lions Gate Entertainment, which has requested access to HIT’s books in order to conduct due diligence on the company. Lions Gate may team up with KKR. Shareholders will vote on the Apax bid, which has been recommended by the board, at a meeting on April 28. HIT became vulnerable to a takeover last summer when it issued a profit warning after a major retailer – thought to be Wal-Mart Stores – cut shelf space for products featuring its characters. The company fired its chief executive and for the six months ended January 31 reported a 24% drop in revenues to £70.2m on weakness in the US.
  • Nordic Capital is buying fabricated copper products manufacturer Outokumpu Copper Products from Outokumpu Group. Outokumpu Copper had sales of €1.7bn in 2004 and employs 6,400 people. The company has 27 manufacturing sites in 13 countries. The sale excludes the Tube and Brass division. Nordic Capital has been very active this year. It recently bought Leaf, the sugar confectionery division of CSM, for €850m in association with CVC.