CD&R buys and builds again with Sirva

The US relocation and logistics group has bought rival Rowan Simmons

Sirva, the US-based relocation and logistics group that is a portfolio company of buyout firm Clayton Dubilier & Rice (CD&R), has bought smaller UK competitor Rowan Simmons in a deal estimated to be worth around E10m.

In a trademark move by CD&R, the larger company is looking to grow its operations across Europe via a combination of organic growth and key market acquisitions. Earlier this year Sirva acquired Maison Huet and combined it with SIRVA’s other French entity, removals firm Allied Arthur Pierre (although retaining its own branding.)

CD&R originally acquired North American Van Lines in 1998, which it subsequently merged with Allied Van Lines a year later and renamed the business Sirva. It now has a turnover of $2.2bn (FY 2001) and has operations in 36 countries. CD&R funds own over 73 per cent of Sirvir and is reported to have invested over $100m thus far.

Rowan Simmons, which has four offices across the UK, has a number of blue chip corporate clients, including Rolls-Royce and BP. For 2001 it had turnover of £8m and operating profits of £750,000.  

CD&R has been keen to grow the contribution European investments make to its funds: it recently agreed to buy UK food services firm Brake Brothers for £434m but also saw its investment in aircraft manufacturer Fairchild Dornier founder as the company went into bankruptcy earlier this year. The firm has a long established reputation for investing in companies expressly to enhance performance, at both the operational and strategic level, rather than simply exploiting financial leverage opportunities.

Although realisations from such investments can be spectacular, they are neither guaranteed nor quick in coming and CD&R has recently come under closer scrutiny by those wanting reassurance that there are some compelling exit opportunities for some of its portfolio firms, even in these depressed times.