ABN Amro, Dunedin back UK aerospace unit

Gardner Aerospace, a struggling components manufacturer, is being sold to a private equity-backed management team in a £21m deal.

ABN Amro Capital and Dunedin Capital Partners have joined forces to back Gardner Aerospace, a UK-based aerospace components manufacturer, in a deal that secures the future of the Nuneaton-based company.


Gardner Aerospace is one of the UK’s largest aerospace machining groups. It produces components for airframes and aircraft engines. The company’s customers include Rolls Royce, BAE Systems, Airbus and GKN. The business employs 1,000 people at eleven sites in England, Wales and also Poland.


Ian Taylor, managing director of ABN Amro Capital, said ABN Amro’s interest in the company went beyond the recent sale process which began in January. “We actually made an approach for the business two years ago and were told it was not for sale. It is a good business which has been the victim of a change in fortunes at the parent company.”


Gardner Aerospace is a unit of L Gardner Group, which has been in the hands of the receivers since the beginning of the year. According to Taylor, the AIM-listed company over-expanded in the 1990s and has since suffered from high levels of debt as well as a downturn in the global market: “The company made a series of acquisitions in the 1990s and struggled to bring the various companies together. This deal should provide the business with the financial stability it needs to complete its improvement programme.”


ABN AMRO Capital is contributing £8.4m equity to the deal, with Dunedin providing a further £7.3m. Banking facilities for the transaction are being provided by Lloyds TSB Commercial Finance. The management team will be led by Steve Hollis (CEO), Simon Frost (chairman) and Ian Whybrow (finance director). Patrick Bulmer (ABN Amro) and Dougal Bennett (Dunedin) will both join the company’s board as non-executive directors.


Myles Halley, a corporate recovery partner at KPMG, the receiver for Gardner, said: “The transaction secures the future of these companies and secures the ongoing employment of the workforce, which includes nearly 1,000 people employed across eleven companies.”


ABN Amro Capital, the private equity unit of ABN Amro Bank, recently launched a £266m takeover offer for Pizza Express, the UK pizza restaurant chain. Taylor said the firm was awaiting developments at TDR, the newly established UK midmarket shop, and Capricorn Ventures, which have indicated that they intend to make a higher offer for the company.