Electra Partners moves into Italy under new banner

Electra Partners Europe has opened an Italian office while rebranding as Cognetas a year after its formal separation from Electra Investment Trust in 2005.

Electra Partners Europe, a pan-European mid-market private equity firm, has taken a new name, Cognetas, and opened an office in Italy.
Maurizio Bianco, who has joined Cognetas from Euromobiliare Private Equity, the buyout arm of an Italian investment bank, will head the Milan office. A further two investment professionals are due to join Bianco.

McConnell: great opportunity in Italy

Nigel McConnell, Cognetas’ managing partner, said the firm had seen a lot of deals in Italy in its size range and the country was a great opportunity. The new branding would also prevent any confusion in the Italian market where the firm had enjoyed a successful joint venture under the B&S Electra banner with BS Private Equity, now a stand-alone manager, he said.
Cognetas has one Italian investment in its portfolio, Azelis Chemicals, a chemical distribution company, which an Italian source said the firm had begun marketing for a sale. Cognetas invested €45 million in a €135 million buyout for a 57% stake in the business in 2003. It acquired the stake from institutional investors Interbanca, Centrobanca and Permira leaving management with a substantial investment in the company.
Cognetas will maintain Electra Partners Europe’s strategy of investing in deals of up to €500 million ($643 million) in the European business services, healthcare, financial services and industrial sectors. Electra European Fund, which raised €1 billion in 2001, will be renamed Cognetas Fund, and the vintage-2005 €1.26 billion Electra European Fund II will be renamed Cognetas Fund II. The latter is now approximately one third invested.
Cognetas said its rebranding reflects the firm’s independence following its spinout from former parent Electra Investment Trust, a London Stock Exchange-quoted investment trust, in early 2005.
Last month, Cognetas sold Amtico, a vinyl flooring business, to ABN AMRO Capital, the private equity arm of banking group ABN AMRO, for £98 million. Cognetas has completed buyouts with an enterprise value of over €6.25 billion in the last fifteen years and has 30 professionals operating out of offices in London, Frankfurt, Paris and Milan.