Accent claims 30% return from Tribon sale

Accent Equity Partners, the Nordic mid-market private equity firm, has delivered a 30 percent IRR from the sale of Swedish software company Tribon Solutions to the UK’s Aveva Group for £19m.

Tribon Solutions, a Swedish niche software group, has been sold by private equity firm Accent Equity Partners to Aveva Group of the UK in a £19 million deal (€28 million; $34 million).

Accent acquired Tribon in July 2002 from Sweden’s Sixth National Pension Fund (AP6). The consideration was not officially disclosed, but was thought to have been around SEK140 million (€15 million; $18 million). Following the deal, Accent had an 88.8 percent stake and management 11.2 percent.

Accent began talks about a possible sale with Aveva in mid-2003 and due diligence commenced in December. Aveva has acquired a 100 percent stake, through a mixture of £15 million in cash and £4 million in Aveva shares. Following the deal, Accent has retained a four percent interest in the combined Aveva/Tribon group, making it one of the company’s ten largest shareholders.

Niklas Sloutski, a partner at Accent, said the firm had targeted Aveva as a potential buyer. “One thing that differentiates us in the marketplace is that we try to identify the industrial group that would provide the best strategic fit for our portfolio companies and then initiate discussions with them,” he said. “The industrial background of our team members gives buyers confidence.”

In this case, Aveva decided its focus on engineering IT systems would be complemented by Tribon’s shipbuilding software solutions. “The acquisition of Tribon will extend our business into the adjacent and complementary sector of shipbuilding,” said Aveva chairman Richard King. “Tribon is the leading provider of engineering IT solutions to the shipbuilding sector which is currently growing strongly, especially in the Far East.”

Tribon was founded in Malmo, Sweden, in 1976 as part of Kockums Computer Systems before being acquired by The Sixth AP Fund in 1999. The firm has 166 employees and overseas offices in China, Germany, India, Japan, Korea, Russia, Singapore, the UK and the US.           

Accent has achieved ten exits from portfolio companies since January 2003, the most recent prior to Tribon being the divestment of Hornell, a supplier of protective equipment, to 3M at a stated capital gain multiple of 13.6 times cost.

Accent is currently raising its seventh fund, Accent Equity 2003, and is expecting to raise a total of €200 million from mainly European-based investors by the end of July 2004. UBS is acting as placement agent for the fund.