Mercapital in Arturo talks

Mercapital is reportedly in talks to buy a 45%–55% stake in the catering division of Spanish hotel, restaurant and catering firm Grupo Arturo.

According to reports, the chairman of Grupo Arturo (Arturo Fernandez) would not be drawn on any financial details of the operation and Mercapital sources declined to comment, but it is thought that Mercapital’s aim is to grow Grupo Arturo’s catering division through new acquisitions, creating a company with yearly sales of some €200m, compared with €135m in 2007. The catering division accounts for more than 60% of total group sales.

One of the main areas that could pose problems is reported to be a possible mismatch between the size of the stake that Arturo’s chairman is prepared to sell and the majority stake that Mercapital is expected to target.

In December, Mercapital and Carlyle Group acquired Arsys, a Spanish provider of web hosting and domain registration services, for €160m.

Founded in 1996, Arsys is the dominant player in the Spanish domain name registration and web hosting market. The business has more than 500,000 domains registered, 170,000 clients, 250 employees and commercial activities in Spain, France and Portugal. In 2007, Arsys expects to generate revenues of more than €40m.

“Having analysed a great number of opportunities in this exciting sector, both in Spain and across Europe, we are delighted to have been able to invest in Arsys, which we believe has huge potential,” said Fernando Chueca, associated director at Carlyle, in a statement.

Mercapital, which has total funds under management of more than €1.4bn, is currently investing from its €550m Mercapital Spanish Buy-out Fund III vehicle.