Doughty Hanson acquires ATU Auto

The European private equity house has acquired a majority interest in the German auto parts company.

Doughty Hanson has acquired a majority interest in Auto-Teile-Unger Group (ATU), Germany's largest independent car parts stockist and auto repair company. The price has not been disclosed. ATU reported turnover of around E1bn in 2001 and employs 10,000 people.

Doughty Hanson confirmed that existing management will remain with the company to develop the business following the acquisition. ATU's founder Peter Unger will remain a shareholder in the business. ATU is a market leader in Germany, owning 383 branches in Germany as well as 12 in Austria and one in the Czech Republic.

The buyout firm said its strategy for ATU is going to be to maintain the firm’s market position and grow the business by further expansion of its branch network. It is intending to significantly grow the business prior to an initial public offering within five years.

Doughty Hanson is currently raising a new buyout fund targeted at circa. E3bn with the help of Merrill Lynch. The investment in ATU was drawn from the firm’s most recent private equity fund, launched in September 1997, which raised $2.5bn.