ECM resolves succession issue at German courier

The owner and founder of European courier IN tIME Direkt-Kuriere Transport has sold his stake to German buyout firm ECM Equity Capital Management following succession problems.

Frankfurt-based ECM Equity Capital Management has staged a management buyout of European courier IN tIME Direkt-Kuriere Transport was undisclosed. A banking source said the price was between €50-150 million ($67-203 million).

The company founder and majority owner Dieter Bartels will sell his stake to ECM’s funds and the existing management team consisting of Torsten Prelle, Gerd Röttger, and Eckhard Schaede.

In 2006, IN tIME handled roughly 174,000 deliveries for mostly industrial customers, with sales of around €46 million. Sales in 2007 are expected to grow by around 20 percent.

A source close to the deal said: “Bartels is in his late 40s and it is difficult to maintain momentum as an individual running such a large company with no obvious family member to take over.”

Many companies in the German Mittelstandt are facing similar succession issues, as the original family owners approach retirement and the younger generation do not want to take over. Private equity positions itself as offering these owners a way to realise some cash from their businesses.

Six of the 15 companies ECM has bought in Germany have been family owned, including aluminium shutter company Alukon, outdoor sports surfaces company Polytan and post-production film company CineMedia.

This is the first investment from ECM’s third fund, which closed in September 2006 with capital commitments of €250 million.