KKR and Goldman Sachs grab Linde forklift unit

Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, a US private equity firm, and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners, the private equity arm of investment bank Goldman Sachs, have bought the forklift business of German industrial gases group Linde.

The firms paid $5.08bn (€4 bn) for KION Group, an umbrella company within Linde that houses forklift truck and industrial equipment brands Linde, STILL and OM.

The transaction, which has still to receive approval from competition authorities, gives KION Group an enterprise value of €4bn, consisting of €3.6bn net equity and €400m of debt. The Kion Group has more than 20,000 employees and reported sales in 2005 of about €3.6bn.

Credit Suisse ran the auction for KION Group, with Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Goldman Sachs advised by Lehman Brothers. According to reports, the two firms beat off competition from two rival private equity consortiums, comprising Permira and Allianz Capital Partners; Apax Partners, Eurazeo and BC Partners; and European buyout firm CVC Capital Partners.

Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Goldman Sachs said that they would honour all agreements made between Linde and employees. Johannes Huth, head of European operations at Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, and Alexander Dibelius, head of central and Eastern Europe at Goldman Sachs, said that their strategy for KION Group would “tap the undoubted potential for growth and earnings in the company”, which is expected to IPO in the “medium term”.

In October of this year, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners combined to purchase France Telecom’s 54% stake in French directories business PagesJaunes in a €3.312bn transaction.