Permira squeezes out toothpaste deal

Gresham paid £35m for the company, almost £50m less than Permira paid in November 1998. Then called Schroder Ventures, the firm paid £82m to Akzo Nobel for the business. According to newspaper reports Betts has been up for sale for two years.

Betts, which is based in Colchester, Essex, has been in business for over 150 years, and supplies some of the world’s best known companies, like Colgate Palmolive and GlaxoSmithKline, with printed laminate tubes for toothpaste. It has over 1,300 employees working from 14 sites in eight countries worldwide including Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Poland, UK and the USA.

The plan is to take Betts into new territories, namely emerging markets, where there has been significant and growing demand for laminate tubes. It is also looking to expand its capabilities into the personal care market and enter new market segments.

Christian Bruning, the partner at Gresham who led the deal and who has joined the board, said: “The management team at Betts has a real focus on customer service, quality and innovation, and with the additional investment we are bringing, the business is well positioned to support its customers and capitalise on future growth opportunities.”

One of Gresham’s first steps has been to appoint a new chairman in the form of Paul Bateman, formerly group operations director for Boots. Prior to Boots, Paul worked for Procter & Gamble where he was responsible for Global Home Care Product Supply.

He said: “Our business is well poised for further growth in our market. The support and financial firepower of Gresham Private Equity will enable us to invest in our manufacturing facilities. This will provide the resource and capability to continue to meet our customer’s needs and undertake further expansion in the future.”

CIT Capital Finance arranged and underwrote £75m of debt facilities. Bruning and James Barbour-Smith of Gresham will join the board. Bruning led the deal alongside Alastair Mills and Dan Hatcher from the London office. Anthony Gahan of Wyvern Partners was the lead adviser to Gresham on the transaction. Tim Morris, Tom Amies and Terence Amako from Ernst and Young advised the vendor.