Socius secondary buyout

F&C Ventures, which shortly before Christmas agreed the terms of its own management buyout that is expected to complete in February this year, has invested equity in the management buyout of Socius Group. Socius Group is a Birmingham-based industrial chemicals and specialist garment manufacturer and was sold to F&C Ventures by Bridgepoint Capital for GBP27 million in a secondary buyout.

Socius, which now comprises Gramos, Countdown Clean Systems and Chemical Express, was bought by Bridgepoint Capital from Laporte plc in a buyout transaction worth GBP15 million in July 1996. Socius acquired Chemical Express in 1997. Interestingly, like Socius, Chemical Express was also a Bridgepoint investee company. Bridgepoint first backed Chemical Express in November 1994. Chemical Express sells a range of cleaning, maintenance and janitorial products through a national franchise network.

Gramos is a manufacturer/blender of industrial chemicals and related products primarily for the metal finishing, industrial painting and automotive refinishing industries. It produces a range of products from metal pre-treatment chemicals to protective creams. And Countdown manufactures a range of garments and consumables for clean room environments including overalls, boots and undergarments, hats and overboots.

At the same time as acquiring the Socius Group from Bridgepoint, F&C Ventures bought Applied Chemicals Europe. This business will merge with that of Socius Group. Applied Chemicals Europe operates in markets similar to those of Gramos in the Socius Group.

In total the purchases of Socius Group from Bridgepoint Capital and Applied Chemicals Europe, which was the European arm of Australian-owned Applied Chemicals International, have warranted a GBP15.3 million equity investment from F&C Ventures. The Royal Bank of Scotland has provided debt finance for the transaction.