Argantis seals first Mittelstand deal

Argantis, the German Mittelstand investor currently raising its debut fund, has agreed its first deal: the acquisition of road haulage firm NordSüd Speditionsgesellschaft.

Cologne-based Argantis, which was set up to exploit opportunities in the German mid-cap segment known as the Mittelstand, has agreed to buy road haulage business NordSüd Speditionsgesellschaft from Lippstadt-based Hella Hueck & Co.

The parties agreed not to disclose financial details of the deal. Argantis has stated publicly that its aim is to invest between €10 million and €30 million of equity in transactions worth between €30 million and €100 million. 

NordSüd is a “just-in-time” road haulage firm serving clients in the automotive component, household appliance (white goods), steel, wood, plastics and processing industries. As well as German and pan-European trucking services, the firm also offers warehousing and transport-related services for third parties.

The firm’s client list includes Daimler Chrysler and Miele as well as Hella, which will continue to be a client following the deal. Hella said it had decided to sell the business in order to focus on its core automotive component activities.

In a statement, Argantis said it would help NordSüd focus on strategic market segments such as premium truckage, while also extending its sales and marketing activities and helping it to grow organically and through selected acquisitions, as well as geographically by bolstering its regional presence in northern and southern Germany.

“Due to the increasing outsourcing of road haulage services, the market has further growth potential to offer,” said Fritz Graf von der Schulenberg, Argantis managing director. Von der Schulenberg has prior experience of the sector, having previously worked at Ferrostaal, the industrial services unit of German trucks group MAN, prior to launching Argantis with fellow managing director Michael Hildisch. Hildisch was formerly a director with Carlyle Group covering German-speaking territories.

Argantis announced the first closing of its debut fund on €100 million in February 2004, and is aiming for a final close on €200 million sometime in 2005. Investors in the first closing included sponsors Sal Oppenheim jr & Cie and IKB Deutsche Industriebank, as well as KfW Bankengruppe and Argantis management. The fundraising in currently targeting institutions and high net worth individuals in Europe and the Middle East.

As well as Germany, Argantis says it also looks at opportunities in Austria and Switzerland.