3i sells furnace maker to Astorg

3i has sold French industrial furnace maker ECM to French buyout firm Astorg Partners for approximately E50m.

(www.PrivateEquityCentral.net) Astorg Partners, the French midmarket investor which in September announced a E110m first close on its third buyout fund, has acquired ECM, a French industrial furnace maker, from 3i.

According to reports, Astorg agreed to pay approximately E50m for the business. 3i said it made an annualised return of more than 30 per cent, according to the reports.

3i firm bought ECM in November 2000 for E28m and received a 55 per cent stake in the company, with family management and others retaining the rest.

ECM’s technology allows auto manufacturers to use heat treatment on small components. Astorg plans to build up the company through future add-ons and is using BNP Paribas for debt financing, according to the reports.

In its most recent exit in June, 3i sold its 70 per cent stake in HPI, a provider of vehicle checking services to motor dealerships, consumers, finance and insurance companies, for £70m.

Earlier this month, 3i bought out Holland-based drinks manufacturer Refresco Holdings for E240m. The firm has invested around E70m from its latest fund, Eurofund Four. 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 Group. The fund is hoping to raise E3bn with a final close scheduled for next year.

Last week, 3i published its pre-close briefings ahead of the announcement of its interim results in November. The firm made investments totaling £187m in the five months to August 31, 2003, down on the same period last year. Realisations were also down to E409m, from E587m last time.