Candover doubles its money on roof racks

Candover has made a successful exit from its investment in Thule Group, a Swedish company that makes car accessories for equipment transport. The firm has generated an IRR of more than 40 percent from the sale to Nordic Capital, following a two and a half year buy-and-build programme.

UK-based buyout firm Candover has generated a return of more than 2.5 times its initial investment by selling Thule Group, a Swedish equipment transport company, to rival Nordic Capital.

Terms were not disclosed, but the company recorded revenues of about €711 million ($957 million) last year, with profits of €99.2 million. Based on the multiple Candover has previously used to value the business, this would put a price tag of about €1.3 billion on Thule – around 13 times earnings.

A Thule roof-rack

Candover bought the business in October 2004 for €465 million, investing about €190 million of equity in the original deal, and has since made no fewer than seven bolt-on acquisitions – most recently US business Case Logic. The firm said that overall it had made about 2.5 times its money over the course of the investment, with an internal rate of return of about 40 percent.

Further acquisitions may follow. Nordic Capital, which is acquiring the business from its sixth buyout fund, said Thule was “an excellent platform both for future add-on acquisitions and for organic growth.”

The company’s current management team, led by president and chief executive Anders Petterson, is re-investing in the secondary buyout and will remain in place. He said: “Strategically, we will continue with our buy and build strategy, with the aim of creating a €1 billion company by 2009.”

Sweden-based Thule makes devices for cars to transport sports equipment and leisure items, including bike racks, trailers and rooftop boxes. Under Candover’s ownership, the company has enjoyed steady growth – Thule now employs over 4,000 people and has more than 30 sites in North America, Europe, Africa and Asia.

Candover’s other investments in the region include Get, a Norwegian cable TV operator, and Swedish bedmaker Hilding Anders, which it bought for about €1 billion in December.