Last word

  • ECI Partners sold Tregus Holdings, the UK independent restaurant chain, to L&G Ventures for around £95m in its eighth exit of the last two years. ECI backed a £25m MBI of Tragus in May 2002, after which Ebitda trebled from £4.2m to £13m in 2004. Revenues are expected to be around £114m in the year to May 2005. Cash proceeds represent a return of 5.3x the original investment and a 94% IRR. “These eight realisations have returned ECI an overall 4x multiple on its original investments and provide an excellent platform from which to launch our new funds,” said Richard Chapman of ECI.
  • Mersey Docks & Harbour Company has confirmed that it is in discussions with a private equity firm that could lead to a 925p per share offer for the company. Previous rumours suggest that CVC is the firm in the frame, with a £1bn offer mooted last November. The latest offer values the company at £724m, and the Board says the price reflects the value of the company and represents an attractive exit price for shareholders. Advisors in the negotiations include Citigroup for CVC and ABN AMRO for Mersey Docks. The company, which handles a quarter of container traffic between the UK and North America, has been buoyed recently by the pick-up in the US economy.
  • Four private equity firms have been short listed in the auction for Travelex, the foreign exchange group. KKR, Apax, Permira and BC Partners are through to the next stage of the auction. A sale is expected by late February, and would provide an exit for 3i, which owns 31% of the business. Travelex is the largest supplier of commercial forex services outside the banking industry. 3i bought into Travelex inJanuary 1999. The Dutch Central Bank gave approval for Travelex to acquire GWK Bank last September. The acquisition provides Travelex with a leading position in the Dutch market for foreign currencies and cash payment services to both businesses and consumers, and creates new growth opportunities for GWK.