3i acquires Refresco

The UK-based private equity firm has made the first investment from its Eurofund Four buyout fund, acquiring the Dutch drinks group Refresco in a deal valued at E240m.

3i has reached agreement with a group of European private equity firms over the secondary buyout of Refresco Holdings, a Holland-based drinks manufacturer.


3i has invested around E70m from its latest fund, Eurofund Four, in the transaction, which is valued at E240m. The fund, which held a first close in May, has secured commitments of E600m from third party investors to close at E2.1bn, including a E1.5bn commitment from 3i. The fund is hoping to raise E3bn with a final close scheduled for next year.


The business is being acquired from a group of European private equity firms comprising Hay Hill Capital, NeSBIC, ISIS Equity Partners, CBG Commerzbank and Capiton. Details of return on investment for the vendors have not been disclosed. Debt financing for the transaction has been provided by SG Corporate & Investment Banking, Fortis Bank and ING Bank.


Refresco Holding was established as a platform company for the management buyout of Menken Beverages, consisting of Menken Drinks and Refrescos out of the Dutch dairy company CampinaMelkunie. At the time of the E95m buyout in 2000, a merger was completed with family-owned Krings Fruchtsaft, a German fruit juices manufacturer.


Refresco produces and distributes fruit juices and carbonated and still soft drinks across Europe, a market worth around E96bn annually. The company’s annual turnover has quadrupled from E125m to E500m, largely through acquisitions in Germany, France and Spain.


We were immediately impressed by Refresco’s management team and its results in recent years,” said Chris Williams, investment director at 3i in London. “Refresco plays a leading role in [the European drinks] market and we are delighted to support its further growth both organically and through acquisitions.”


3i has introduced Alan Peterson, an experienced chairman for a number of private-equity backed companies, to the supervisory board of Refresco as chairman.


Yesterday, 3i published its pre-close briefings ahead of the announcement of its interim results in November. The firm made investments totalling £187m in the five months to 31 August, down on the same period last year. Realisations were also down to E409m, from E587m last time.