European Golf Brands, the maker of electronic golf trolleys, has been sold by Close Brothers Private Equity (CBPE) to Graphite Capital for £26m. Barclays Bank provided debt finance for the deal.
CBPE acquired Kent-based European Golf Brands (EGB) for £10 million (€14.5 million) in 2000 in a deal led by turnaround specialist Mike Snapes, who became chairman. During the period of CBPE’s ownership, the firm has increased profits from under £1 million to more than £4 million.
The deal provides an exit for CBPE and Snapes, while managing director John DeGraft-Johnson and sales director David Wells will continue in their roles under Graphite’s ownership. Irish businessmen Rossa McDermott and Fergus O’Rafferty, both of whom have extensive experience in international sales, are joining the business. O’Rafferty becomes chairman, while McDermott’s role has not yet been confirmed.
Over the last few years EGB has focused on expanding its product range and the positioning of its Powakaddy and Hill Billy brands. Two new electronic trolleys have been launched including a robotic remote-controlled version. Under its new ownership the business will focus on the globalisation of its brands, including a major push into the US, the world’s largest golf marketplace.
CBPE declined to reveal the return in achieved on the deal but said it was “delighted” with it. The deal is the second from Graphite Capital’s Graphite Capital Partners VI fund, which it closed at £375 million in April 2003. Last June it invested an undisclosed sum in Leading Edge Labels, the specialist printing and packaging firm.