Alchemy Partners, the UK private equity firm headed by Jon Moulton, is reported to be backing a deal to acquire the UK electrical equipment rental group Boxclever.
The firm is backing Roger Mavity, Boxclever's chief executive, who is offering £200m for the business, according to the Sunday Telegraph. Mavity and Alchemy are being advised by NM Rothschild, with talks reportedly at an advanced stage.
Alchemy Partners was unavailable for comment.
Boxclever was formed by a merger of two rival rental chains, Radio Rentals, owned by Nomura, and Granada, owned by the UK media group of the same name, in the late 1990s. The business borrowed £748m in May 2002 through a bond issue arranged by WestLB as shareholders sought to reduce their commitment to the business.
This year, Boxclever has been cited as one of the primary reasons behind a substantial level of bad debt at WestLB, with Boxclever reportedly contributing around E430m of the bank’s E1.9bn of bad debt provisions. In May, the German bank reported losses of E1.7bn (£1.2bn).
Boxclever has suffered from a downturn in the level of TV rentals in the UK as consumers opt to purchase television sets rather than rent them, taking advantage of increasing credit finance and lower prices for TV sets. However, the company continues to provide services for around 1.5m customers in the UK, reporting turnover of £350m and profits of £160m.
WestLB’s principal finance unit, headed by Robin Saunders, has been the subject of considerable speculation over its future. In August, WestLB chief executive Johannes Ringel confirmed that that he had received some “very interesting enquiries” about the business. “We are aiming to sell (the principal finance portfolio) and we can imagine lots of different options,” he told Reuters.
WestLB’s advisor Goldman Sachs is looking at strategic options, which include a possible break-up of the business. Both Lehman Brothers and Citigroup are thought to be interested in bidding for the business.
Saunders has also long been linked with plans for a possible bid for the business, and earlier this year was thought to have arranged financing to acquire the unit.
Sources estimate that between £100m and £200m of equity capital might be acquired along with an unspecified portion of the debt, possibly in the range of £2bn to £3bn. The unit’s most recent investment was the £430m acquisition of Odeon, the UK cinema group, from Cinven in March.