AXA makes clean exit with Spotless sale

BC Partners has acquired the laundry product business in a secondary buyout that values the company at €600m.

AXA Private Equity has sold its 65.6 percent stake in Spotless Group, a European household and laundry product company, to BC Partners in a deal that values business at €600 million, a source has confirmed.

A source close to the deal confirmed that AXA would generate approximately double its initial investment in the business, as reported in the Financial Times. BC Partners has also bought out minority shareholders the Gaulandi family in Italy and European Capital.

Spotless products: in 
eight  countries

AXA made its first investment in Spotless Group in 2005, when it acquired French laundry and home care products, Eau Ecarlate. The group then embarked on a buy-and-build strategy that saw it make six acquisitions across Europe. It now operates through eight national subsidiaries in Europe and employs more than 300 people.

In an unusual step, all employees at the group are to benefit from the buyout. They will receive a bonus equivalent to two months' salary, AXA said in a statement.

Philippe Poletti, head of mid-cap leveraged buyouts for AXA, said Spotless had represented a “fantastic project from both a human and a business point of view”, in a statement.

London-headquartered BC Partners has been deploying capital at a fast pace as it nears the end of the investment period for Fund VIII, which closed on €5.8 billion in May 2005. The firm, which is planning to commence fundraising for Fund IX later this year, invested €1.3 billion of equity between the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008 and the end of 2009.