PPM makes comfortable exit from BST

PPM Capital, the UK mid-market firm, has sold BST Safety Textiles, a German airbag manufacturer, to US private equity house WL Ross & Co for an undisclosed sum.

BST, which is based in Maulburg near Lörrach (Baden-Würtemberg), develops and makes fabrics for the automotive airbag segment, along with seatbelts and commercial webbing in North America. It employs around 1,250 personnel and is expected to generate €220m revenues in 2006.

PPM first got involved in July 2005 when it acquired a majority share in a €125m deal. The value of the exit has not been disclosed.

BST fits in well with WL Ross’ portfolio. Formed in April 2000 by billionaire Wilbur Ross Jr, the firm manages over US$3.5bn (€2.7bn) in private equity funds with a particular focus on the steel, textile, coal, automotive and financial services sectors. Among its investee companies is the International Textile Group, a US-headquarterd

provider of fabrics and textile solutions, and Safety Components International (SCI), a US low-cost, independent supplier of automotive airbag fabric and airbag cushions.

Ross, chairman and chief executive of WL Ross & Co, said: “We are very excited to be acquiring BST Safety Textiles and believe there will be significant collaborative opportunities with many of our other portfolio companies, including Safety Components International, International Textile Group and International Auto Components.”

Dr. Sebastian Kern, managing director of PPM Capital and member of the supervisory board of BST, said. “We believe that there is a strong commercial logic for a closer cooperation between SCI and BST as the combined entity will be able to offer the entire textile product range for airbags including airbag design and will have the necessary global reach as required by the customers. In a consolidating industry this will be a benefit for both companies.”