TPG Backs Landis & Gyr Buyout

Texas Pacific Group (TPG) of the US, which signalled its intention to step up investment in Europe by opening a London office in March (story, page 17), joined forces with a Swiss private investor consortium for the buyout of Electrowatt’s global payphone and smart card activities.

The deal gives TPG and the Swiss investor group control of Landis & Gyr Communications, the world’s leading payphone supplier. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed, but the purchase price was reportedly around CHFr 200 million (ecu 122 million). TPG invested from its $2.5 billion TPG Partners II fund, and Credit Suisse First Boston and Merrill Lynch provided debt for the transaction.

Landis & Gyr Communications has more than 2.9 million public and private payphones in some 70 countries and provides electronic payment solutions, smart cards, terminal equipment and systems. TPG partner Abel Halpern said the new owners plan to begin marketing the company’s payphones in the US, where Landis & Gyr as yet has little exposure.

Landis & Gyr had to be sold to allow Electrowatt’s merger with Siemens, which also has interests in the payphone market, to go ahead. All Landis & Gyr’s existing management team are remaining with the company.