news in brief

Mid Europa Partners, a Central and Eastern Europe buyout specialist, has completed its acquisition of a 96% stake in Medycyna Rodzinna, Poland’s sixth-largest healthcare business. Medycyna was taken private in July this year, shortly before Mid Europa held a first close of its record-breaking third fund, which ultimately raised €1.5bn (US$2.17bn).

Bank BPH, a member of the UniCredit Group, underwrote senior credit facilities while Mezzanine Management co-invested in the transaction.

No sum was disclosed for the acquisition of Medycyna, which provides outpatient medical care and diagnostic services to corporate and individual subscribers, insurers and patients under contract with the National Health Fund. The business services more than 300,000 patients through a network of 17 branded clinics and more than 200 affiliated private providers.

Anna Rulkiewicz-Kaczynska, chief executive officer of LUX-MED, an October acquisition for Mid Europa and Poland’s second-largest healthcare operation, has been appointed chief exec at Medycyna, while retaining her position at LUX-MED.

Barclays Ventures has backed the buy-in management buyout (BIMBO) of Howorth Airtech. Based in Bolton and employing nearly 100 people, Howorth provides ultra clean air solutions for the medical and pharmaceutical markets in the UK and overseas. The total funding package for the acquisition and the development of the business going forward was £12.5m. Senior debt and working capital was provided by Royal Bank of Scotland.

Andrew Steel led the BIMBO, having previously led the MBO of Altair Filtre Technology, which was sold to GE Energy in 2006. He will be joined by Peter Lewis (previously sales director of Altair) and non-executive chairman Bob Spender (previously CEO of a major international process and filtration business).

In the medical market Howorth designs, manufactures and installs ultra clean air systems and ancillary products for operating theatres. It currently has an installed base estimated to be more than 2,000 units-strong in the UK, Europe, the US and the Far East.

Sovereign Capital, a UK buy and build private equity specialist, has created Employability and Skills Group, a new £21m (€30.2m) turnover learning and skills business. Employability and Skills Group comprises three Sovereign-backed companies: Leicester-based Sencia, a specialist in returning adults to employment, first backed in 2004; a 2006 acquisition, Sheffield-based STL, an apprentice learning group; and Orient Gold, which delivers national training contracts across the UK, bought in September. The transaction comes at a busy time for Sovereign, which has already made three bolt-on acquisitions in the past month, comprising Dependable Services for LPM; Walmotts for Kinetics; and Positive Lifestyles for Alkare. The firm also exited its CVS Group investments through a £105.7m IPO on AIM.

ISIS Equity Partners (ISIS) has completed the acquisition of Liverpool based Raglin Care on behalf of Paragon. Based in Adlington, Lancashire, Paragon is a provider of “supported living” services to adults with learning and physical disabilities.

Pete Clarke, who led the deal for ISIS said: “We were attracted to Raglin because there was a strategic fit between the two companies. Like Paragon, Raglin has strong local authority relationships and a reputation for providing ‘supported living’ services to service users in its local market – St Helens, Southport, Formby and Liverpool. There was also a strong geographical fit as this deal extends Paragon’s reach beyond Greater Manchester and Lancashire and into Merseyside.”

Clarke added: “Our goal is to work with the Paragon management team to support and grow the company and ultimately position Paragon as a dominant player in the ‘supported living’ market in the North of England.”

The acquisition of Raglin by Paragon adds to ISIS’s wider portfolio of investments in this sector, including Care Management Group, Independent Living Services and Pathway. This transaction was jointly originated by Pete Clarke at ISIS and John Fowler of Brabners Chaffe Street. Yorkshire Bank provided the debt for the deal.

Bank of Scotland Corporate has taken a strategic 19.9% stake in Pi Capital through its Growth Equity team. No shares were sold by existing Pi shareholders. Pi Capital is an investor network that finds growth equity and alternative asset investment opportunities for its members, and negotiates participation in select private equity deals. It allows individual investors to participate in transactions on an opt-in basis that are usually the exclusive preserve of institutions.

The bank’s growth equity team, led by Stephen Campbell, makes direct equity investments in a variety of businesses, from small technology companies to the largest public companies. These investments are made directly from the bank’s balance sheet, not from a fund, which gives it the flexibility to work with management teams.

Following Bank of Scotland’s investment, Pi Capital will gain access to the bank’s pipeline of growth equity deals, and a partner who can open doors for Pi members to a range of investments in other asset classes. For its part, Bank of Scotland will gain access to Pi’s high-powered network of top UK entrepreneurs, business leaders and financiers, which has extensive experience of multiple business sectors.