LONDON (The Deal) -- Private equity company 3i Group said Wednesday it agreed to sell Belgian specialty chemicals distributor Azelis to private equity peer Apax Partners almost eight years after acquiring the company from the now-defunct private equity investor Cognetas.
No enterprise value for the deal was announced, but London-listed 3i said it received proceeds for the sale of about £62 million, ($95.93 million), pr about £36 million more on the £26 million at which the company was held on 3i's books as of March 31, 2014.
Those figures come with a warning, however -- they are only a partial guide to the actual value of the business or to 3i's return on equity.
Azelis is about 55% owned by 3i's Eurofund V, a limited partner vehicle, in which 3i is the largest investor. According to the private equity firm's 2007 results, the listed company's investment was £27 million when Eurofund V bought what was then over 60% in Azelis in early 2007. 3i reported at the time that Eurofund V was taking a £72 million ($81.72 million) stake in a deal with an enterprise value of £315 million.
According to Reuters, the total debt financing package of the 2007 deal, was £307 million, with leverage of six times Ebitda.
3i tried to sell Antwerp-based Azelis in March 2011, bringing in Bank of America Merrill Lynch to organize the sale through a controlled auction with a reported target value of about £500 million, at a time when private equity companies were doing a string of deals in the chemicals and chemicals distribution sector. But the sale was pulled later.
It also reportedly invested a further £30 million of equity into the company in 2012, following the sale in October that year, of its composites business to Hamburg, Germany-based Velox for an undisclosed price. Velox said at the time the Azelis Composites business area had sales of about £50 million.
Azelis serves the coatings, chemicals, rubber and plastic additives, food, health, animal nutrition, pharma and personal care industries. The company was put together as a buy-and-build platform by private equity firm Permira (then known as Schroder Ventures) and Italian banks Interbanca and Centrobanca in 2001 from the merger of Groupe Arnaud and Distribuzione.
Permira later added Britain's Cahnce & Hunt and Germany's Kraemer & Martin. It generated sales of £944.3 million in 2013, a decline of about 24% on revenues in 2011, the last full year before the sale of the composites unit, and of about 15% on revenues in 2012. Ebitda was £38.4 million in 2013, £43.7 million in 2012 and £54.1 million in 2011.
Nevertheless, according to 3i, Azelis has grown under its leadership both organically and by acquisition, expanding its footprint in the U.K., the Benelux and central and eastern Europe, as well as entering the Asian market.
Apax will fund the acquisition with financing arranged by J.P. Morgan. It also said it intends to continue to develop Azelis' specialist product portfolio as well as extend its geographic reach, both organically and by acquisition.
UBS advised Apax partner Frank Ehmer on the deal, which was briefly reported on when Apax entered exclusive negotiations on buying Azelis earlier this month. Derek Baird and Ian Barratt of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett as well as a team from Ashurst provided legal advice.
3i partner Robert van Goethem turned to Greenhill Partners and a Clifford Chance legal team led by Kerstin Kopp.
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