3i backs £85m MBO of Vantec

Nissan is selling its 66.7 per cent stake in the logistics company to Start Holdings Co Ltd, a holding firm set up by 3i and Vantec executives.

3i is backing the £85m (E133m) management buy-out of Vantec Corp, which provides logistics services to Nissan and other third party customers. The deal, the largest of its kind undertaken in Japan, is expected to be completed before the end of January.

Nissan Motor will sell all of its 66.7 per cent stake in automotive parts transporter Vantec Corp to Start Holdings Co Ltd, a newly established holding firm set up by 3i and top executives of Vantec. Start Holdings will later buy part of the remaining stake in Vantec, now held by Nissan affiliates.

Shinsuke Okuno, who will lead the management team at Vantec, said: “the buy-out of Vantec provides us with an exceptional opportunity to focus our activity and achieve significant growth.

“Nissan will continue to be an important customer, but our expertise and track record in automotive logistics together with our independence will enable us to develop our customer base outside the Nissan Group. We will also be looking to continue our expansion in the areas of other manufacturing logistics as well as commercial logistics.”

Vantec management and 3i’s growth plan for the business includes funding to increase capital investment in areas such as the development of world class IT systems. The overall funding involved is to be in the region of ¥15bn, which will be provided by a mixture of equity from management and 3i, and debt to be provided by a syndicate of banks led by the Industrial Bank of Japan.

There are plans to introduce non-executive directors to the board of Vantec from 3i’s Independent Director Programme (IDP). 3i’s IDP has more than 550 international executives.

Chris Boulton, president of 3i’s Japanese operation, said: “We are delighted to achieve our first success in the Japanese market with such a significant deal and we look forward to supporting Vantec management in its plan to grow the business. As Japan’s economy shows signs of restructuring, the opportunities for 3i are significant.”

Nissan, the Japanese automaker, which is 37 per cent owned by French car-maker Renault, is under pressure to sell its non-core assets to achieve its debt-reduction goals.

Vantec was set up in 1954 to provide logistics services exclusively to the Nissan Group. Its headquarters are in Yokohama, and it employs approximately 2000 staff. The company’s turnover in 1999 was over $600m.