In brief top news

Triton, the European private equity house, has acquired RMG Group from IWKA Group. RMG is active in the natural gas distribution industry, specialising in regulatory and safety systems. IWKA is selling the business to concentrate on core business areas. Triton, with offices in Frankfurt, London and Stockholm manages funds valued at €650m. Its focus is primarily on companies located in German and Nordic speaking regions. RMG has increased its business through international activities and achieved sales of approximately €100m in 2004. The group has more than 900 employees.

  • Advent International has sold its holding in Zone Vision, the thematic channel broadcaster and distributor of international cable and satellite channels. The business has been acquired by chellomedia, the European content division of UnitedGlobalCom, as part of the sale of the whole company for US$80m. The exit returns almost 2x money to investors in Advent Central & Eastern Europe II (ACEEII) and related funds. Additional future performance-related payments from the other selling Zone Vision shareholders are expected to raise Advent International’s overall return to just under 3x its original investment. Advent invested US$8.3m in Zone Vision in May 2001. “This exit represents a good example of a company founded in Central Europe by a local entrepreneur that has expanded across the region . . . it is further proof that private equity is now an established part of the economies of Central Europe,” said George Swirski, a director at Advent.
  • ECI Partners, a mid-market buyout specialist, funded the £20m MBO of Bounty, the market leader in direct marketing to pregnant mothers and new parent households in the UK. Bounty has long-standing relationships with hospitals, health professionals and major FMCG clients, including Procter & Gamble, Heinz and Johnson & Johnson. The business had a turnover of £18.5m in the year to December 2003. In November, ECI appointed Gordon McNair as an investment executive. The firm, which manages £350m of assets, is embarking on its next round of fundraising.
  • YBR Group, which is majority-owned by 3i and Veronis Suhler Stevenson, is conducting a strategic review that may lead to an IPO or a sale. The European directories services company, which was formed in March 2004 after the merger of De Telefoongids Fonecta and Mediatel, has achieved growth after a period of investment and consolidation. CEO Lex Cohen said the business comprises a balanced set of companies with complete and complementary skill-sets. The strategic review began on January 17.
  • Deutsche Bank and CSFB have been mandated to arrange the debt backing Carl Zeiss’s and EQT’s US$1.1bn acquisition of SOLA. Debt will be split between a senior second lien piece and mezzanine debt. Bankers said total debt could be as high as US$900m. Carl Zeiss and EQT are paying US$28 a share in cash for SOLA and will assume about US$285m in debt. The merged eyeglass business of Carl Zeiss and SOLA will be a leading provider of ophthalmic lenses, globally employing 9,000 people. EQT is investing from its third fund and the sale price represents a 30% premium to Sola’s December 3 closing price.