Close Bros make 4x money on blinds

Change Capital Partners has acquired a UK blinds manufacturer in a secondary MBO valued at £115m, providing a full exit for Close Brothers Private Equity.

Close Brothers Private Equity, the UK mid-market buyout firm, has realised its investment in UK blind manufacturer Hillarys Blinds in a £115 million (€174 million; $210 million) secondary management buyout led by Change Capital.

Hillarys' new owner is the start-up private equity firm headed by Luc Vandevelde, the former chairman of Marks & Spencer.

According to London-based partner Simon Wildig, Close Brothers made 3.6x its money, having originally invested £19 million in the original MBO/MBI in May 2001. The original investment was made from Close Brothers Private Equity VI, which is fully committed at this stage. The firm is currently investing from its £360 million Fund VII, which closed in March this year.

Commenting on the transaction in a statement, Wildig, who managed the investment with Mark Perryman, said: “The group has a fantastic business model, which the team has refined. I hope that Change’s ownership proves to be as successful and enjoyable as ours.”

The deal was led for Change Capital by managing director Steve Petrow, who formed the firm along with Vandevelde and Frederic Hufkens in January 2003. The firm received an initial cornerstone investment of €300 million from the Halley family, a leading shareholder in French retailer The Carrefour Group. The Halley family has also set aside a further €700 million for co-investment.

Change Capital’s sole transaction to date has been the £60 million acquisition of UK high street hardware and DIY retailer Robert Dyas in March this year. The firm recently withdrew from a consortium led by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts seeking to acquire Dutch retailer Royal Vendex for €1.4 billion.

The Hillarys Blinds transaction represents Close Brothers’ fourth exit of the year, following the sale of UK travel services operator Capital Incentives, the £26 million sale of European Golf Brands in January and the sale of its stake of ordinary shares in listed engineering company Hill & Smith.