news in brief

EPIC Private Equity has announced the sale of Kilgour, the Savile Row tailor founded in 1885, to JMH. EPE financed a management buyout of Kilgour in 2003 to enable the firm to expand from its traditional bespoke business into a complementary “ready to wear” range. The disposal represents a total return of 5.2x money (47% IRR).

Giles Brand of EPE said: “Kilgour has been transformed by the management team over the past five years and we expect it will continue to prosper under its new owner. Kilgour is typical of the companies we invest in. Our focus is on solid businesses with interesting growth potential where we can back proven managers, ultimately driving strong returns for investors. It is very much the kind of business we will be targeting for our VCT.”

Barclays Private Equity has become the majority shareholder of the Martek Power group, a leader in the field of power converters. Founded in 1987 by Marcel Katz, Martek Power has adopted an extensive growth strategy in Europe and the US. The company has developed an expertise in the design and production of power converters for the high technological aeronautical, defence, medical, telecom and railway industries and is now the French market leader of “customised” products and number three worldwide in “standard” military supplies.

Martek employs more than 930 staff in France, the UK, the US, Mexico, Tunisia and China. In 2007, it achieved turnover of close to €68m. Following the recent acquisition of Powertron in the UK, Martek will continue to enlarge its product offerings, primarily through research and development as well as through several well-targeted acquisitions. Barclays Private Equity has invested in Martek through the exit of two non-operational shareholders.

Platina the London and Paris-based private equity fund manager has exited from two companies that own windfarms with total generating capacity of 36MW in Louville-la-Chenard, France, following the completion of the sale of Mistral en Beauce and Ferme Eolienne La Remise des Bruyeres to Poweo and Dutch Infrastructure Fund BV.

In October 2005, the sites were acquired from Volkswind, the German developer, as development assets. Using their in-house project development and management team, Platina completed the planning process, secured turbines, procured financing and managed the construction process. The windfarms became fully operational in September 2006 and under the management of Your Energy Services Ltd (YES), a 100% subsidiary of Platina, have subsequently operated in excess of forecast capacity utilisation.

In the autumn of 2007, following a year of successful operation, Platina decided to seek new owners for the windfarms. Augusta & Co, an independent merchant bank with specialist expertise in renewables, was appointed to run a sale process that saw more than 20 offers received from strategic and financial investors, and the ultimate sale of the business to Poweo and DIF Renewable Energy at an attractive return to investors.

Investec Growth & Acquisition Finance has provided £12.75m of funding to support the management buyout of Polypipe Sanitary Systems from parent group Polypipe. The Investec team provided asset-based lending, including receivables, inventory, plant and machinery, and an acquisition loan. Polypipe Sanitary Systems claims to be the UK market leader and is forecasting £40m-plus sales in the toilet-seat and toilet-flushing systems markets. It is actively pursuing opportunities in the grey water recycling solutions sector through the Ecoplay system.