Barclays PE buys ECI investment

The E44m secondary buyout of computer software business NCC Group is the UK-based firm’s fourth deal this month.

Barclays Private Equity, the mid-market private equity unit of the UK-listed bank, has backed the E44m management buyout of The NCC Group, a company specialising in independent third party protection and storage of business critical software, in what is the firm’s fourth deal in a month.


Barclays is taking a 65 per cent stake in the business, previously part of the National Computing Centre, with the current management of the division leading the transaction. The company reported sales for the financial year 2002-2003 of E19m.


The deal provides UK private equity firm ECI, formerly known as ECI Ventures, with a strong return on its investment in NCC Group. ECI led the initial buyout from Manchester-based National Computing Centre in 1999 in a £6m deal. ECI was unavailable for comment.


Rob Cotton, leading the deal for NCC, said: “The NCC Group is the only significant provider of escrow services in the UK and with the potential market for escrow services currently estimated at approximately E150m, it has a strong growth potential.” Barclays Private Equity was advised by Eversheds and PriceWaterhouseCoopers.


The deal comes only seven days after Barclays PE acquired a near-30 per cent stake in SP Metal, a French plastic packaging manufacturer. The financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed, although SP, which specialises in plastic household items, reported sales last year of E211m and EBITDA of E26m. The remainder of SP Metal is owned by the company’s management.


Other recent acquisitions by Barclays Private Equity include a E100m deal to acquire a minority stake in Marr, the food distribution unit of Italian food group Cremonini and a £147m buyout of Royal & SunAlliance’s healthcare and assistance insurance business.


The firm is investing the Barclays Private Equity European Fund which it closed on E1.25bn in December last year, including a E600m commitment from Barclays Bank.