Trio of exits for Permira

Permira has announced the sale of three of its portfolio companies in as many weeks, selling each of them in a secondary buyout. The private equity group, which last month closed its third European buyout fund at €5bn after just six months of fund raising, has realised its investments in TFL, Azelis and Sirona.

In a deal worth thought to be worth around €200m Permira sold leather chemicals company TFL (Together for Leather) to German private equity firm Odewald & Compagnie. TFL, which manufactures chemical products and provides application services for the treatment of leather, was formed in 1996 as a spin-off from Röhm/Stockhausen and Ciba. Permira backed the company’s €170m MBO in March 2001 with an investment from Schroder Ventures European Fund II. The company has since grown organically and through the acquisitions of Novaria/Novorchem in 2001 and Wilmington Leather Coatings last year. Headquartered in Weil am Rhein, Germany, TFL has operations in 17 countries and in 2002 achieved sales of €250m. The company’s new owner is investing from its second buyout fund focused on German-speaking countries, which raised €400m in 2001.Permira’s investment in Sirona dates back to 1997 and was the debut investment from Schroder Ventures European Fund, Europe’s first $1bn-plus fund. The firm bought Bensheim, Germany-based Sirona Dental Systems from Siemens for an undisclosed sum and separated its manufacturing activities, Sirona, and distribution network, Demedis, which Permira retains. EQT’s Northern European Private Equity Fund has acquired Sirona, which manufactures dental equipment for practises and laboratories, for €417.5m. The company’s management has acquired a 15% stake in the group. In its last financial sales Sirona achieved sales of €284m. The €135m secondary buyout of chemical distributor Azelis, backed by Electra Partners Europe, completes Permira’s hat trick of realisations. Electra is paying €45m to acquire a 57% stake in the company from Permira, Interbanca and Centrobanco; management will hold the remaining 43%. In 1998 Permira invested in Italian holding company Novorchem, which acquired Organa/Chemplast, Novaria and Giulio Gross before merging with Groupe Arnaud of France in 2001. Numerous acquisitions, including Chance & Hunt in the UK, ChemVerga in Italy, Champoiseau in France and Kraemer & Martin in Germany, have followed since. Electra plans to continue this strategy and has set aside an additional €40m for acquisitions. The company focuses on chemicals for the pharmaceuticals, life sciences, engineering, plastics, rubber, coatings, composites and electronics sectors. Estimated sales for 2003 are €470m.