Mid-market in brief

  • 3i has announced the sale of Rotterdam-headquartered United Transport Tankcontainers Holdings (UTT) to AIM-listed Interbulk Investments (Interbulk) in reverse takeover deal valued at €67m.

UTT specialises in the worldwide door-to-door transportation by tank container of hazardous chemicals and food bulk liquids. It operates from 13 offices throughout Europe, North and South America, the Far East and Africa.

Interbulk is an investing company formed in December 2004 to acquire interests in private and quoted engineering businesses. As part of the transaction, it has conditionally agreed to acquire the remainder of the equity it does not already own in Technologies. Following the transaction, the enlarged group will be well-positioned as a global, full-solution provider for the movement of bulk commodities.

3i backed the MBO of UTT from parent company United Transport International in November 2002, investing €17.2m as part of a transaction that secured UTT’s independence from its UK parent.

  • Phoenix Equity Partners, the lower mid-market buyout house, has bought Radley, the UK’s biggest-selling handbag brand, for £45m. The group has some form in high-end women’s fashion retail, having previously invested in Jimmy Choo, the shoe-brand popularised by TV series Sex and the City from 2001 to 2004.

Radley, formerly known as the Tula Group, makes handbags and accessories that are sold in more than 500 independent retail outlets and leading department stores. In November 2005, the group opened its first flagship store on the King’s Road to showcase the Radley brand.

The new investment, together with the appointment of Roger Best as chief executive, will be used as a stepping-stone to grow the Radley brand in new markets starting with Japan and North America. Radley’s revenues are expected to exceed more than £40m in the year to end-April 2006 and have increased by more than 30% annually over the last three years.

  • BS Private Equity, has acquired Italian swimwear company Arena Group from Investitori Associati in a secondary buyout valued at around €55m.

Cristiano Portas (Arena group chairman and CEO) and other members of the management team invested alongside BS Private Equity in the MBO, which was financed by Banca Intesa as lead arranger and underwriter. Founded in 1973 as a spin-off from adidas, the group is now number two worldwide in its space. In 2005, Arena’s worldwide brand sales (at retail sale price value) were in excess of €350m.

  • UK-based mid-market private equity firm LDC has appointed Tim Farazmand as London regional director to lead its seven-strong team. Tim joined LDC in March 2005 from Catalyst Fund Management & Research. Previously, he was an investment director at 3i before leaving to set up Royal Bank of Scotland Private Equity’s London office. He replaces Simon Dempsey, who is stepping down to pursue other interests.