Tunstall sold by Bridgepoint

Return details were undisclosed but a source close to the transaction placed it at 2.5x.

Tunstall is a Yorkshire-headquartered provider of personal and home telecare systems to the elderly. The European market leader, the company’s products include care alarm system for private and care homes, software to enable monitoring centres to respond to raised alarms and the management of call centres on behalf of local authorities and related support services.

Tunstall has a long history with private equity. Bridgepoint bought the business in June 2005 for £255m from mid-market rival HgCapital, generating a 2.8x return, but its connections with PE stretches all the way back to the early days of the industry in Europe. Cinven acquired it in December 1980 and floated the business in 1984 before selling its remaining stake the following year, generating a whopping return of 32x.

The business remains popular. In a contested auction, German electronics Giant Bosch and its Dutch counterpart Phillips were reported to have approached Bridgepoint in September when the firm was sounding out divestment options.

One of the most experienced private equity investors in healthcare, Bridgepoint’s last sector-related exit came in December 2006 when it sold Attendo, a Swedish provider of older and disabled care for local authorities, to Industri Kapital, generating a 4.4x return. The London-headquartered buyouts house acquired Attendo in February 2005 and merged its telecare division with Tunstall.

Healthcare investments still in the Bridgepoint portfolio include Clinical Solutions, a clinical decision support software provider; Gambro Healthcare, now called Diaverum, a dialysis care services group; and Rodenstock, an ophthalmic lens manufacturer.

The healthcare sector continues to attract private equity interest despite the credit crunch. Just last month LGV Capital made three secondary sales of healthcare firms, with Integrated Dental Holdings (IDH), the UK’s largest owner of dental practices, acquired by Merrill Lynch Global Private Equity for over £250m; Cinven bought private acute hospital operator Classic Hospitals; and Bank of Scotland Integrated Finance has backed an MBO of Verna Group, a Bolton-based healthcare business.