CBPE sells SP Systems to Swiss trade buyer

Close Brother’s private equity arm has sold the manufacturer it acquired in 2000 in a deal valuing the company at £85m.

Close Brothers Private Equity (CBPE), the independent UK merchant bank’s mid-market buyout business, has sold SP System to Gurit Heberlein, the Swiss industrial group.

Gurit agreed to pay £75m for the business, which makes composites for racing yachts and wind energy turbines, and assume an additional £10m in debt.

CBPE bought SP Systems in an MBO in November 2000 from Zoltek, a Nasdaq-listed company. At the time, CBPE invested £20m of equity in a £45m transaction, for which Lloyds TSB provided debt funding.

Richard Lott of CBPE said the idea of selling the business to Gurit had first been tabled by SP’s management and then taken forward with CBPE’s full support.  Lott declined to comment on the rate of return the firm generated by selling the company on less than two years after purchasing it.

CBPE, which was advised by Bond Pearce in Southampton, currently manages £350m on behalf of third party investors. Its latest fund closed in February 2002.