ECI bets £50m on sports, electronics

ECI Partners has completed two deals in three days, investing £15m in an electronic archiving company and £35m in a sports online and mail order retailer.

ECI Partners, the UK mid-market private equity firm, has announced the acquisition of M&M Sports, a UK online and mail order sports retailer. Sources close to the transaction revealed that the purchase price was approximately £35 million (€52 million; $64 million).

Based in Leominster, England, M&M turned over approximately £40 million in year ended February 2004, with underlying earnings before income tax, depreciation and amortisation of £5 million. The deal was led for ECI by managing director Tim Raffle and investment executive David Ewing.

The transaction is ECI’s second this week, following the investment on Monday of £15 million for a majority stake in UK-based electronic archiving group EDM, led by ECI's managing director Steve Tudge and investment executive John Hayhurst. HSBC provided £15 million in debt financing on the deal.

ECI is currently investing from its seventh, £175 million private equity fund, which closed in 2000. In June, the firm appointed Charlie Johnstone as a business development manager to focus on intermediaries and liaise with director James Stewart who is responsible for ECI’s direct origination programme and manages the group’s hands-on chairman and MBI programmes.

ECI was originally founded in 1976 as Equity Capital for Industry and has offices in London and Manchester with a staff of 14 investment professionals. The firm is owned by its management team and manages funds of approximately £350 million.