Doughty announces €1.5bn ATU flotation

London-based pan-European private equity firm Doughty Hanson has made its second IPO announcement in quick succession.

Doughty Hanson, the UK buyout firm, has confirmed it will seek an initial public offering of portfolio company Auto-Teile-Unger (ATU) on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.

According to analysts, the IPO is expected to value ATU at around €1.5 billion and deliver a return of between two to three times equity invested for Doughty Hanson, which bought the company in a deal worth about €900 million in June 2002. 

ATU, a German operator of specialised automotive parts stores and repair shops, is aiming to join the market by the middle of June 2004.

CSFB and HSBC Trinkaus & Burkhardt are joint global co-ordinators for the IPO, while HypoVereinsbank, Lehman Brothers, Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein and DZ Bank are acting as syndicate banks.

Shares will be offered to institutional investors in Germany and internationally, including US investors under Rule 144A. Retail investors in Germany will also be able to subscribe to the offer.

In a statement, ATU chief executive Werner Aichinger said: “The proceeds will allow us to fully repay the shareholder loan and to reduce our indebtedness, which will help us to strengthen the balance sheet and positions us for further expansion.”

Since it was established in 1985, ATU has set up 461 branches, of which 447 are based in Germany, 13 in Austria and one in the Czech Republic. In the year ended 31 December 2003, the firm had turnover of around €1.1 billion and EBITDA of €203 million.

Doughty Hanson acquired a majority stake in ATU through a management buyout in June 2002. The deal saw ATU founder Peter Unger retain a 19 percent interest and the management team five percent.

In a statement outlining its expansion plans, ATU said it would seek to grow its German network to 800 stores by 2014; open new lines of business, particularly by expanding into auto glass and the corporate and fleet sectors; and increase its activities abroad by expanding into neighbouring European countries.

Doughty Hanson, which is currently raising a new €3 billion fund, announced last month that it was planning to float UK football clothing and equipment manufacturer Umbro on the London Stock Exchange by the end of June 2004. Analysts said the IPO was expected to value the company at around £200 million. Doughty backed a £90 million buy-in at the business in April 1999.