Candover buys Belgian films unit for €320m

Candover, the London-headquartered private equity firm, has acquired UCB Group of Belgium’s speciality films manufacturing business for €320m.

UCB Group, the quoted Belgian pharmaceutical and speciality chemicals company, has sold its speciality films manufacturing business to private equity firm Candover for €320 million ($398 million).   

ABN AMRO is providing debt financing for the transaction, for which details of the financing structure have not been disclosed.

Headquartered in Brussels, UCB’s films business is a manufacturer of specialist orientated polypropylene (OPP) and cellulose (Cello) films. The OPP division has a portfolio of speciality packaging products targeting high-growth niche markets, while the Cello unit launches new biodegradable packaging products for food and transparent labels for beverage bottles.

The acquisition includes a 50 percent shareholding in Securency, which manufactures and markets ‘Guardian’ high security substrate for polymer banknotes and substrates for government security documents worldwide. The high-tech polymer technology developed by the firm is designed to challenge banknote counterfeiting and was jointly developed by UCB and Reserve Bank of Australia, which is retaining its 50 percent interest.

UCB’s films business employs 1,600 people and has five manufacturing sites around the world: two in the UK and one each in Australia, Belgium and the US. In the year to December 2003, it generated total sales of €362 million. The firm’s management team is headed by chairman Dennis Matthewman, previously a director of Hays, which was backed by Candover in a buyout in 1987.

“UCB’s films business is well positioned in growing markets and has benefited from a long history of world class research and development,” said Julian Delano, a director of Candover.