Actis backs $98m Malaysian buyout

Private equity firm Actis has supported the buyout of Malaysia’s Unza Holdings – its first deal in South Asia since de-merging from CDC Capital Partners earlier in the year.

Actis, the emerging markets investor, has taken a 30 percent stake in Malaysian personal care business Unza Holdings through a $98 million (€79 million) management buyout from Berjaya, the Malaysian conglomerate. Standard Chartered Private Equity worked on the deal alongside Actis and has also taken a 30 percent interest.

It is the first deal completed by Actis in South Asia since it de-merged from CDC Capital Partners, the emerging markets investor backed by the UK government, in January 2004.

Unza, which was established in 1979, comprises a group of companies that manufacture and market household and personal care products under 35 proprietary brands. The brands, which include Eversoft cushions and Enchanteur fragrances, delivered sales of over $100 million in 2003. Unza has 3,400 staff and operations across Malaysia, Hong Kong and China.

“Malaysia presents exciting investment opportunities for Actis,” said Paul Fletcher, chief executive of Actis. “As this investment demonstrates, the market for the acquisition of non-core businesses from conglomerates is opening up.”

Recent figures from the Asian Venture Capital Journal showed private equity investment taking off in Malaysia. In the first half of 2004, the country saw deals totalling $459 million, compared with a total of just $30 million in the first six months of 2003.

Actis made a number of investments in Malaysia prior to its de-merger, including in palm oil business BAL Plantations, which was sold to Golden Hope Plantations in 1996.