Axa Private Equity, B&S in concrete transaction

Axa Private Equity and B&S Private Equity have acquired the concrete subsidiary of Vivendi Environnement.

Axa Private Equity, the private equity division of French insurance group Axa, has led the buyout of concrete products manufacturer Bonna Sabla from environmental services group Vivendi Environnement.  Financial details of the transaction have not been disclosed.

Axa Private Equity, with headquarters in Paris, is joining forces with Italian private equity fund, B&S Private Equity Group, to provide the equity for the deal. Together with management, the two firms will control 80 per cent of Bonna Sabla. Vivendi Environnement, meanwhile, will retain a 20 per cent of the capital. Senior debt is being provided by CIC and KBCEuromezzanine is underwriting the mezzanine debt facility.

Bonna Sabla operates principally in public sector projects and has a market share of around 30 per cent. With offices in the UK, Spain, Tunisia and Egypt, the company had sales of E405m in 2001, of which 25 per cent were outside France.

Vivendi Environnement decided to sell its concrete business, a subsidiary of Vivendi Water, in an effort to focus on its core utilities business.

Commenting on the strategy for the business going forward, Frédéric Collard, senior investment manager of Axa Private Equity said: 'In the first instance, our plan is to work on implementing higher internal strategies. We will then study any opportunties to grow in expanding markets.'

The transaction is the latest investment from Axa Private Equity's E400m buyout fund, which closed in June 2001. Other investments include the management buyout of Champeau Group, a supplier of wood roof truss systems in France, and the purchase of insurance firm Cornhill, both announced in September.

The French group also completed the disposal of its interest in Digiplug, a French developer of wireless client and network technology during the same month. The company was acquired by Japanese business development company Faith, which agreed to pay E30m in cash.

B&S is currently investing Italian Private Equity Fund III, which has E300m under management. The deal is B&S’ first venture in France.