3i buys into ABA Sweden

The UK private equity group has bought a 47 per cent stake in the hose and pipe manufacturer.

3i has agreed to buy a 47 per cent stake in Stockholm headquartered ABA Group, a major manufacturer of hose and pipe sealing products for the distribution and automotive sectors. The terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

ABA was established in 1896 and has been family-owned for three generations. Initially it manufactured firefighting equipment but today comprises three business areas: sealing and clamping products, automotive systems and a technical consultancy called TeknikPartner.

In a statement announcing the agreement with 3i, the company also said that it had developed and patented a fast-connector – 'which has aroused great interest within the automotive industry' – and which is now ready for launch. ABA said that this new connector was expected to generate rapid growth for the company.

'ABA is in an exciting development phase. The combination of competent management and organization, a well-proven concept and a strong growth culture within the company means that we can look forward with great confidence to ABA's continued development and expansion,' said Lars Erik Blom, Investment Manager at 3i Nordic, advisers to 3i Group plc.

Nils Bergström, who until 1997 was managing director of the company, is now the main shareholder and will in future continue to own 47 per cent of the company. ABA's current managing director, Lars Nordin, has worked within the company since 1988. Together with the other members of company management, Nordin will own the remaining shares in ABA.

During 2001 ABA acquired the German competitor GEMI, with a turnover of SEK 150 million. The company currently employs 780 people and expects a turnover of around SEK 600 million in the year 2002.