3i and Ratos to acquire Atle

Atle has recommended that shareholders accept an offer which values the quoted VC firm at £580m.

3i and Swedish private equity company Ratos have made a £580m takeover offer for Atle AB, the quoted Swedish private equity investor which focuses on small and medium-sized unlisted companies.

The deal is 3i’s fourth acquisitive venture into continental Europe since the beginning of last year. Atle has recommended that shareholders accept the offer.

Brian Larcombe, chief executive of 3i, said: “We have been looking for the right opportunity in Sweden and this transaction gives us a first class team and a strong market position and portfolio.”

The offer is being made through Woodrose Invest AB, which was set up by 3i and and Ratos for the acquistion. Shareholders are being offered SEK153 (£10.8) per share for all shares less deduction for the cash dividend payout.

Atle’s portfolio of just over 100 companies will be divided between 3i and Ratos in the approximate ratio of 60:40 by value. 3i is effectively paying a total of SEK 5,224m (£363m) for 85 directly held investments in Sweden and a 50 per cent interest in a further portfolio of 19 investments held jointly with Ratos.

The majority of Atle’s employees will join 3i’s office in Stockholm. A small team will manage the jointly owned investments and one executive will join Ratos.

Atle’s unaudited accounts for the nine months ended 30 September 2000 showed that the group had consolidated net assets of SEK4,991m (£346.8m) and a consolidated profit before taxation of SEK660m (£45.9m). For the year ended 31 December 1999 Atle’s consolidated net assets were SEK4,820m (£334.9m) and a consolidated profit before taxation of SEK 1,008m (£70m). The firm is listed on the Stockholm Exchange and has nearly 16,000 shareholders.