AXA exits Phönix/Strack

The French firm, which is targeting €2bn for Fund V, helped the valve supply company achieve double digit growth during its two years of ownership.

Paris-based AXA Private Equity has sold its majority stake in Phönix/Strack Group, a German specialist valve supplier.

The company is to be acquired by the Curtiss-Wright Corporation, a US diversified component manufacturer listed on NYSE, for €82 million. The transaction is still subject to approval by the authorities.

Phönix is based in Volkmarsen, central Germany. It produces custom-built for the energy, chemicals and refinery sectors, and counts 282 employees.

The company was acquired by AXA for an undisclosed amount in 2010. It has achieved double-digit growth since then, reaching €50 million in revenues last year. It also bought Daume Regelarmaturen, a specialist producer of regulating valves, in 2011.

“Under the ownership and with the support of AXA PE, the company developed through a threefold strategy: further internationalisation through our international network with a focus on the energy sector in France and Asian countries; buy and build through the acquisition of Daume Group; focus on the improvement of internal processes and the organizational structure,” Dirk Wittneben, managing director at Axa Private Equity, told Private Equity International.

He explained that Phönix had the right product mix to attract interest from within the industry. “Trade buyers in this particular sector are looking for niche players with highly engineered products, which they can add to their product portfolio.”

Its geographical reach made it an even more of a suitable target, he added. “On one hand Phönix/Strack is a mid-sized company in this industry with production in Germany, on the other hand the exposure to global projects is high, including Asia and emerging markets. And German engineering competence still has a very good reputation, especially in the US and Asia.”

The deal comes as AXA continues to raise its LBO Fund V, which has a target of €2 billion. The firm held a first close on the fund in March 2012 on €1.1 billion. 

Phönix was originally an acquisition from AXA's Expansion Fund II, which had €350 million in commitments at its final close.