3i exits industrial testing company to Bridgepoint

The sale follows the exit of nine investments already made by the firm in the first half of its financial year as it continues to trim its portfolio.

3i Group has sold Element Materials Technology, a testing, inspection and certificate company, to Bridgepoint for an estimated £656 million ($977 million; €900 million).

Proceeds from 3i’s investment made in 2010, is understood to have generated a 3.9x return for the firm.

It follows recent exits in the first six months of the firm’s financial year from Azelis, Labco, Touchtunes, Boomerang, Soyaconcept, Inspecta, and partial exits of its quoted holding in Quintiles, as well as Scandlines and India’s UFO Moviez through an initial public offering, as reported by Private Equity International.

3i has returned more than £307 million to investors in the first half of 2015, with more planned for the second half, chief executive Simon Borrows said on an earnings call in November.

Headquartered in the UK, Elements tests outsourced industrial materials in 51 laboratories throughout the US and Europe, and has 10,000 customers in the aerospace, oil and gas and transportation sectors.

During 3i’s investment period the company expanded internationally, growing organically and through the acquisition of 10 companies. The number of labs increased from 22 in 2010 to 53 in 2015, and revenue has trebled to around $290 million annually.

Bridgepoint, which will provide capital and operational support to help further grow the business, made the investment through its Bridgepoint Europe V fund, which is a €4 billion, 2014-vintage vehicle.

In September, the firm acquired French medical technology company Balt through the same fund, for an undisclosed amount.

Advisers in the sale included RBC Capital Markets and HSBC for Bridgepoint, and Rothschild and Baird for 3i Group.