CVC brings in ex-StarBev boss at Autobar

CVC has brought in a heavy-hitting operational expert to replace Andrew Bristow as CEO at Autobar, as it gears up for a sale or a float of the UK vending machine company.

CVC Capital Partners has appointed Alain Beyens as chief executive officer at Autobar, one of Europe's biggest vending machine businesses. Beyens, who will start his new role in October, was until recently the CEO of brewer StarBev, another CVC portfolio company, where he oversaw the $3.5 billion sale to Molson Coors in April this year.

CVC partner Jean-Remy Roussel will act as interim CEO until Beyens’ arrival – but Andrew Bristow, the entrepreneur who built up Autobar and was CEO at the time of the CVC acquisition, has left the company altogether after eight years in charge. 

In a note to staff and external stakeholders seen by Private Equity International, Autobar’s non-executive chairman Tim Parker highlighted Beyens’ credentials as an operator. “Alain’s operational expertise and extensive pan-European leadership experience will allow him to work effectively with the experienced senior management team to build on Autobar’s successes to date and drive the business forward through the next phase of growth”.

At the time CVC completed its £1.2 billion acquisition of Autobar in August 2010, it served around 100,000 customers in 11 countries in Europe, with sales of €569 million in the year to March 2010. Since then it has been on an aggressive acquisition spree: according to the company’s website, it has hoovered up no fewer than 18 smaller rivals in the UK, Germany, France and Spain. 

This was not Bristow’s first experience of private equity ownership; prior to the CVC deal, Autobar had been owned by UK firm Charterhouse Capital Partners for six years. The outgoing CEO’s future plans remain unclear.

According to one banking source, CVC had been expected to pursue a float or sale of Autobar within the next 12 months – but this change in leadership could delay this timetable by at least a year, he suggested.

A CVC spokesperson declined to comment on the change, or its exit plans for Autobar.