Wightlink secondary buyout

Wightlink Holdings a southern England ferry operator has completed a secondary buyout with an enterprise value of GBP180 million. The company’s management was backed by RBS Mezzanine, part of the Royal Bank of Scotland’s structured finance division to the tune of GBP21 million. This will not be sold down. The deal was arranged by the bank’s Debt Ventures team.

The mezzanine facility will be used to finance the buyout of Cinven and other shareholders, comprising some existing mezzanine warrant holders and individual shareholders.

The GBP180 million enterprise value is made up of a number of other transactions completed by Wightlink in recent years, in addition to the latest mezzanine tranche. In 1999, the company completed a 25-year GBP135 million whole-business BBB-rated securitisation to repay acquisition finance. This repaid funds provided by Cinven and the RBS Leveraged Finance Group to back the 1995 first management buy-in, which was led by Aiken, when the company was bought from Sea Containers in a GBP100 million deal.

There is also a leasing element included, which covers three of Wightlink’s fleet. Some management equity and some working capital.

Wightlink group chief executive Mike Aiken, finance director Adam Humphryes and a group of 14 managers have all increased their equity stakes in the company. See exit news this issue for details of Cinven’s financial terms.