Advantage Partners to make first solo acquisition outside Japan

The local Japanese buyout firm is set to acquire a US-based automotive leather interiors provider, beating The Carlyle Group in its bid, in what the firm calls ‘a big first step’ to becoming a ‘global firm’.

Japan-focussed private equity firm Advantage Partners is purchasing GST AutoLeather from SILLC Holdings, a holding company owned by private equity firm Court Square Capital Partners, for an undisclosed sum.

Advantage Partners beat Carlyle in its bid to acquire the company, according to a source.

An associate at Advantage Partners told PEO that they did not know who the other bidders were, or how many there were. The deal was made from the firm’s fourth fund, he said.

The fourth fund raised $1.9 billion (€1.2 billion) and closed last year.

GST AutoLeather is a provider of automotive leather upholstery and it supplies for auto manufacturers such as Toyota, General Motors, Honda, Chrysler, Ford and Volkswagen.

Richard Folsom, representative partner at Advantage Partners said in a statement that the firm will look to support GST AutoLeather in executing its growth strategy in the markets in which it already competes, and in newer markets such as China.

This is the first time Advantage Partners has made an acquisition outside Japan on its own. In 2006, the firm joint hands with Bain Capital to acquire MEI Conlux, a transaction processing company with headquarters in both Japan and the US.

According to the associate at Advantage Partners, the “final goal [for Advantage Partners] is to become a global firm” and this acquisition “is a big first step” in that direction.

He said: “We cannot say that we are restricted to Japan for Fund IV.” The firm is also looking to make investments in Europe and other parts of Asia from the fund. He added, however, that the firm continues to remain actively engaged in buyout activities in Japan.

Advantage Partners was founded in 1992 and manages total assets of more than $3.4 billion. It launched its first buyout fund MBI Fund I in 1997. The firm opened its first international office in Hong Kong recently.

Goldman Sachs advised Advantage Partners on the deal, while SILLC Holdings was advised by Lazard Feres.