CapVis sells Tobler to UK trade

The Swiss private equity house has completed the sale of its wholesale heating products business in a £52m (SFr118m) deal with UK building material products business Wolseley.

CapVis, the Swiss private equity firm which earlier this year closed its second buyout fund on E340m, has made what it describes as a “very satisfactory” return on its investment in Tobler Management Holding, a Swiss wholesaler for heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and sanitation products.

The buyer of the business is Wolseley plc, the listed specialist trade distributor of plumbing, heating and building material products. Wolseley has agreed to pay £52m for the business, including net debt, in a deal financed from the group’s existing resources.


Tobler is the leading wholesaler in Switzerland with a market share of around 22 per cent. It is also one of the leading providers of technical maintenance services. In 2002, the company reported sales of £105m and operating profit, before goodwill amortisation, of £7m. Net assets stood at £34m. Tobler employs approximately 600 people across 21 branches.


CapVis, which invests in the Northern Alps region including Switzerland, Austria and Southern Germany, backed Tobler in April 2000, investing from its debut fund, CapVis I, which raised E200m in 1999. Alexander Krebs, chairman and partner of CapVis, declined to disclose the precise consideration paid by CapVis for the business, but confirmed it was more than SFr100m.


“We’re very satisfied with the return we have made on our investment,” said Krebs. “We have completely redesigned the group and sold a large portfolio of property in Tobler that substantially reduced the company’s net debt.”


The property portfolio was sold to a Swiss real estate fund, also for an undisclosed sum.