Clearbrook makes first disposal

Clearbrook Capital Partners, a private equity firm established by Robin Saunders, has sold laboratory company Eclipse Scientific for £50 million.

Clearbrook Capital Partners, former WestLB banker Robin Saunders’ investment firm, is selling Eclipse Scientific, an independent laboratory company, for £50m to Inspicio, a testing and inspection group.
 
The disposal will net Clearbrook and its co-investors, RIT Capital Partners and Lord Rothschild’s family interests, a profit of £40m after two years.  Julie Dedman, Eclipse’s chief executive, had a 25% stake in the business.
 
Saunders said: “Everybody is pretty happy. Our entry multiple was low, which is why we love roll-ups that start below critical mass. It was a lot of fun. I’d have bought a business a week, but you need to integrate and take out the synergies in an orderly fashion.”
 
Eclipse made a total of eight acquisitions to put together a group of 11 laboratories in the UK and Ireland.
 
The sale is the first disposal by Clearbrook, the private equity investment firm established by Robin Saunders in 2004.
 
Saunders said there were a number of similar deals in the pipeline but without a traditional private equity fund she was not under any pressure to invest.
 
She said: “We just want to do a couple of great deals. They don’t have to be big or highly leveraged. We are an absolute return, value investor focused on delivering a superior multiple.”
 
She did not rule out raising a fund in the future, but said: “Raising capital is not an issue, but we want to walk before we run.  We have been oversubscribed for every investment we have done.”
 
Clearbrook’s other investments are in Harbourmaster, a European collateralised loan obligation fund manager, and Hawk Group, a specialised finance company.