Barclays Private Equity sells Webhelp to Astorg Partners(3)

French private equity firm Astorg Partners has bought a 35 percent stake in Webhelp, France’s third biggest provider of client communication services, from Barclays Private Equity for about €40 million.

Barclays Private Equity has sold some of its stake in Webhelp, a French communication services provider, to Astorg Partners for about €40 million ($54 million). Astorg has bought a 35 percent stake while the management team will keep a 50 percent stake and the other 15 percent will be owned by Barclays Private Equity and three French private equity firms.

Barclays originally bought a 50 percent stake in the business in 2004 with the three French private equity firms – Durenne Capital, Avenir and Alvent. The management team at that time owned the other 50 percent. The sale has generated a return of more than two times the original investment and an internal rate of return of 60 percent – according to Barclays.

Founded in 2000, Webhelp provides communication services, including call centres and a multi-channel offering, to clients in the telecoms, internet and financial services sectors. The company generated sales of €90 million in 2006 and operates 12 sites in France, Morocco and Romania.

Paris-based Astorg Partners has more than €1 billion under management and has generated an overall internal rate of return of more than 30 percent on its investments. Barclays Private Equity is currently investing a €1.65 billion fund which closed in February 2005.