Capvis to buy ABB building systems unit

Capvis, the Swiss private equity house, has agreed to acquire ABB’s Swiss building systems business for an undisclosed sum.

Capvis is set to acquire ABB’s Zurich-based building systems division in a deal subject to approval from regulatory authorities.

ABB Building Systems is a leading provider of electrical installations in commercial, industrial and infrastructure buildings and also installs and services antennas for the mobile telecom industry.

The company consists of eight business units: Kriegel & Schaffner, Kriegel & Co, ABB Installationen, ABB Elettro-Impianti, Arnold AG Elektrische Unternehmungen, Broger, Grossenbacher Installationen and JAG Jakob Installationen.

Based in Volketswil, near Zurich, ABB Building Systems employs approximately 1,600 people in 32 locations. The company generated revenue of CHF278 million (€177 million; $220 million) in 2003.

The deal, expected to complete in mid-March, will see Capvis take a 68 percent stake in newly established holding company. Management will be the second-largest shareholder with 22 percent, while ABB will retain a ten percent interest. Credit Suisse in Zurich is providing debt financing for the transaction, for which financial terms were not disclosed.

The deal forms part of Swiss-Swedish engineering group ABB’s divestment programme aimed at reducing its debt pile. Last month, it sold its upstream oil and gas business to 3i, Candover and JPMorgan Partners for €729 million (plus a possible €39 million deferred payment). The firm’s German building systems unit and downstream oil and gas business are still up for sale.         

Capvis, which was established in 1999 as the successor to SBC Equity Partners, invests in mid-market management buyouts in Switzerland, Austria and Southern Germany. It has backed 26 companies since 1990 including Uster Technologies, Soudronic and Polytec Holding. Last June, the firm closed its Capvis II fund on €340 million – surpassing a target of €300 million.