UK-headquartered private equity firm Baring Private Equity Partners [BPEP] has reported its best year on record for exits in 2002, completing 17 divestments across European, Asian and Latin American markets. At a time when a growing number of private equity funds are having to work hard to realise successful exits from portfolio companies, with IPO markets closed and trade buyers cautious, BPEP has been understandably keen to emphasise its results, particularly as several of its funds are raising new funds this year.
Baring has regional funds in every major international market outside of the US, each of which had at least one exit last year. All of the exits were trade sales to strategic buyers and include the divestments of a division of Topway (a Romanian margarine and condiments producer), Isolux (a Spanish engineering contractor) and Jyothy (an Indian consumer product company).
The firm’s 17 deals resulted in total returns of E181m, dominated by deals in Europe and Asia. In addition, Baring Latin America Partners completed three successful exits from companies held by the South America Private Equity Growth Fund – which Baring has advised since December 2001. In a period that saw very little activity in the communications and computer-related sectors sector, just under a sixth of the firm’s divestments came from within these sectors.
Commenting on the results, Chris Brotchie, CEO of Baring said: “Despite turbulent economic conditions and political uncertainty, we continue to find buyers willing to pay attractive prices for strategically interesting companies. We have managed to sell at an average multiple of nearly 2.3 times cost to buyers prepared to recognise in full the specific and real value we have added to each investment.'
For 2003, BPEP has already announced two successful exits from mainland China businesses for its Baring Asia Private Equity Funds in the first quarter.
At 30 September 2002, Baring Private Equity Partners had in excess of $2bn in funds under management. BPEP is a wholly owned subsidiary of ING Group.