Electra in E220m food wholesale deal

The mid-market private equity firm has bought BWG from Pernod Ricard, seeing off competition from financial investors including Hg, Candover, Alchemy and ABN Amro Capital.

Electra Partners Europe, the midmarket private equity investors, has completed the purchase of BWG Group from Pernod Ricard.

Electra, which had been working with PricewaterhouseCoopers Corporate Finance to identify opportunities in the wholesale industry for some time, agreed to pay E220m for the business. Around 30 per cent of the financing comes from equity funds advised by Electra. CIBC, the investment bank, is leading a consortium of debt providers arranging around E155m of senior debt, with AIB and Bank of Ireland participating. 

BWG, which is a food wholesaler operating in the UK and Ireland where it also owns a number of retail brands, was put up for auction by Pernod Ricard last year in an effort to dispose of non-beverage interests. Pernod Ricard was being advised by SocGen, which ran the auction.

Prior to Electra being granted exclusive access to the company, private equity houses interested in buying the company included Hg Capital, Candover, Alchemy Partners and ABN Amro Capital, according to a source familiar with the deal.

Directors Rupert King and Damien Lane led the deal for Electra. According to Lane, Electra had been attracted to BWG’s strong and stable cash-flow in a sector that offered significant scope for further organic growth. Future acquisitions were also a possibility, he said.

BWG, which in 2001 turned over E2.2bn and achieved earnings before interest and tax of E31m, is the fifth acquisition for Electra since the firm gained independence and raised a E1m buyout fund in 2000. The firm has offices in London, Frankfurt and Paris.