Investcorp dilutes Autodistribution stake

TowerBrook Capital Partners, a London buyouts house, has acquired French auto parts distribution business Groupe Autodistribution in a €160m restructuring deal.

Previous owner Investcorp had been looking to refinance since the end of last year with little success. Both the banks and the sponsor agreed a standstill agreement in the autumn but attempts to thrash out a deal failed.

InvestCorp acquired Autodistribution in 2006 from Goldman Sachs in a secondary LBO backed by a €530m debt package, and are reinvesting to take a 16% stake alongside TowerBrook’s controlling 62.5% share. TowerBrook will offer lenders a 21.5% equity stake in return for a reduction in the current level of debt from €600m to €150m.

The deal sees the new owners inject €110m of new money and make a further €50m available for potential acquisitions. Post restructuring, the group’s financial debt, excluding available cash, will be below 2.5x estimated 2008 EBITDA

Once the transaction is completed, current CEO of Autodistribution Alain Redheuil will step down to a non-executive position. TowerBrook operating executives Gerd Siekmann and Olivier Roux will take over the roles of chairman and CEO respectively. Both have extensive automotive experience – from 1998 to 2007, they ran together several auto components companies, notably EMPE, an German interior systems manufacturer, and Rhiag Group Limited, a spare-parts distributor in Italy, Switzerland and Eastern Europe..

Yves Alexandre, managing director at Investcorp, said of the deal: “We are very pleased that Autodistribution will, as a result of this transaction, have an appropriate balance sheet to confront the difficult economic conditions facing the automotive industry. The investments made over the past three years, as well as the additional human and financial resources being made available to the business as a result of this agreement, provide Autodistribution with the means to pursue further its operational transformation. Our priority has been to achieve a financial restructuring that ensures a lasting solution for Autodistribution, its employees and trading partners.”