Bridgepoint in €800m eyeglass exit

The deal for eyeglass retailer Alain Afflelou was struck just one day after Bridgepoint confirmed it had entered exclusive talks with Lion Capital.

Bridgepoint has agreed to sell eyeglass designer and manufacturer Alain Afflelou to Lion Capital in deal valued at €800 million, according to a source with knowledge of the transaction. 

The enterprise value puts the deal at 11x EBITDA for the company, the source said. The deal is being financed through a €400 million debt package from Citigroup, UniCredit SpA and Alcentra.

On Monday, Bridgepoint announced that Lion had entered in exclusive talks to acquire the company, which was launched by eponymous founder Alain Afflelou in 1972. Last fiscal year, the franchisor generated €800 million in sales across almost 1,100 stores in France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Morocco, Lebanon and Ivory Coast.

Bridgepoint acquired a 56 percent stake in Alain Afflelou in 2006 for €500 million through its third European fund, which is fully invested. That deal included €325 million in debt financing. 

Bridgepoint European III was generating a 2.6 percent net internal rate of return and a 1.1x return multiple as of 30 September, 2011, according to documents from the California Public Employees’ Retirement System. It is unclear how much the firm has distributed to investors since then. 

The firm declined to comment. A representative for Lion Capital did not respond to a request for comment. 

Bridgepoint’s latest fund, which raised €4.84 billion in 2008, has completed 15 transactions and is around 60 percent invested, according to the source. Earlier this year, the firm successfully completed its acquisition of wealth management company Quilter for £175 million (€210 million; $272 million). 

Bridgepoint typically focuses on the European mid-market and has raised more than €12 billion since its inception. The firm’s investment and operations committees are chaired by William Jackson.