News in brief

ECI Partners, the UK mid-market buyout specialist, has sold ClarityBlue to Experian, a subsidiary of GUS PLC, for £85m. This represents an 8x multiple on ECI’s investment in 2-1/2 years. ClarityBlue designs, builds and manages marketing databases for large companies. ECI backed a £10m MBO in 2003 from Nasdaq listed Sand Technology. Since ECI’s investment, ClarityBlue has grown rapidly, establishing itself as a key service provider to blue chip clients such as Barclaycard, Orange, Wanadoo and BSkyB. Sales have grown by more than 40% a year from £11m in 2003 to approximately £30m this financial year. The company currently employs over 165 staff.

  • Inflexion Private Equity, the mid-market private equity investor, led the £22m MBO of Viking Moorings, which is operative in the design, hire and sale of mooring systems and associated products to the North Sea offshore oil and gas industry. The high price of oil has stimulated a surge in offshore activity in the North Sea, from which Viking Moorings is positioned to benefit. Funds managed by Inflexion have invested £9m for a majority equity share holding. The management team have also invested, and Royal Bank of Scotland provided a package of £16m in debt facilities and an extra £5m to support future growth. Tim Smallbone and Catherine Richards from Inflexion’s Manchester office led the deal and will join the board of Viking Moorings.
  • Barclays Private Equity has acquired Robinia, a provider of intensive support services for adults and young people with learning difficulties, in a secondary management buyout from Bridgepoint for £80m, taking a majority stake in the business. LDC, the mid-market private equity provider, is expected to co-invest alongside Barclays Private Equity. This is Bridgepoint’s first realisation of 2006, earning a multiple of more than 2x on the sale. In 2005, Bridgepoint returned more than €1.2bn to investors with 12 major realisations. According to CMBOR, the healthcare sector has been highly attractive to private equity firms, with 31 private equity transactions totalling £4.4bn completed in 2005.
  • The public-to-private buyout of Denmark’s leading telephone operator, TDC, has been completed after 88.2% of its shareholders agreed to the DKr382 per share offer from a private equity consortium. The final result from the tender offer saw no late surge from TDC’s shareholders after last week’s close. The US$15.2bn buyout is the largest in Europe and the globally second biggest ever. Nordic Telephone Company is the bid vehicle for buyout firms Apax, Blackstone, Permira, Providence Equity and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.
  • ITT Industries has sold its Germany-based Richter Chemie-Technik subsidiary to Riverside Company, a private equity investor. Richter manufactures pumps and valves for selected segments of the chemical, fine chemical and pharmaceutical industries.