Actis exits Sri Lankan gas manufacturer

The firm has sold its entire holdings in Ceylon Oxygen to trade buyer The Linde Group for an undisclosed amount. The original deal, in 2006, was at the time the largest private equity deal Sri Lanka had ever seen.

Emerging markets investor Actis has exited its 95 percent stake in Sri Lankan gas manufacturer Ceylon Oxygen to trade buyer Linde Group for an undisclosed amount, according to an Actis spokesperson.

The London-headquartered firm paid an undisclosed sum to acquire a 71 percent stake in Ceylon from chemical company Yara International ASA in September 2006. The deal required Actis to make a mandatory offer to acquire the company’s remaining shares.

According to an Actis statement, the buyout was at the time the largest private equity investment in Sri Lanka’s history. Although no financial information on this most recent sale has been divulged, Steven Enderby, an Actis partner on the board of Ceylon Oxygen, said in the statement that “over the last four years Ceylon Oxygen has proven that the potential Actis saw in the company was well founded”.
Rothschild acted as advisors to the deal.

Ceylon Oxygen manufactures gases for industrial and medical use. The company’s main products include oxygen, nitrogen, nitrous oxide, argon, acetylene, food-grade carbon dioxide and dry ice.

Actis invests in the global emerging markets with a growing portfolio of investments in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The firm currently has $4.7 billion funds under management.

According to its website, Actis’ only other previous holding in Sri Lanka was a stake in the country’s National Development Bank which acquired ABN Amro's operations in Sri Lanka in 2002. The firm subsequently exited its stake in the bank in 2006.

Actis is also reportedly looking to exit India’s Paras Pharmaceuticals, which it co-owns alongside Sequoia Capital. The company is currently the subject of a bidding war between five drug makers – Pfizer, UK-based GlaxoSmithKline, French company Sanofi Aventis, and Japan’s Daiichi Sankyo and Taisho Pharma – according to media reports.