Electra picks up bowling business for £91m

The sale generated a 2.4x return for CBPE's Fund VIII

London-listed Electra Private Equity has made its second leisure investment of the year, acquiring The Original Bowling Company from mid-market private equity firm CBPE Capital for £91 million.

Electra has invested £51 million of equity in the deal, alongside a small investment from TOBC’s management team, which is led by Steve Burns. The remainder is made up of debt provided by GE, Barclays and Lloyds, according to a statement from Electra.

Electra declined to comment beyond the statement.

The deal gives CBPE a return of 2.4x. The firm invested £20 million in the business when it acquired a sizeable minority stake back in August 2010.

CBPE supported AMF Bowling’s acquisition of Hollywood Bowl, creating TOBC, the UK’s largest ten-pin bowling operator. The business has 43 bowling centres, 29 under the Hollywood Bowl brand and 14 under AMF, with 1,409 employees. According to a statement from CBPE, further investment in people, systems and process fuelled “considerable growth ahead of the market”, leading to an EBITDA increase of more than 60 percent to £15 million in the current year.

This is the first exit for CBPE’s Fund VIII – its first fund since spinning out from UK investment bank Close Brothers in December 2009 – which closed in 2010 on £405 million. Investments from the fund include a majority stake in restaurant group Côte, acquired for around £100 million in September 2013, and an investment in Medica Reporting, a UK-based provider of high-quality tele-radiology reporting services.

TOBC’s bowling centres are mainly located in leisure or retail parks, and also offer restaurants, licensed bars and family games arcades. Electra aims to grow the business further through making improvements to the existing portfolio, opening new centres and making “strategic acquisitions,” Bill Priestley, a partner at Electra, said, adding that the leisure industry “offers excellent growth opportunities”. Peter Boddy, who previously held the CEO position at sports nutrition brand Maxinutrition, will join TOBC’s board as non-executive chairman.

This is Electra’s ninth deal this year, taking the firm’s total new investment since 30 September 2013 to more than £300 million. In August Electra acquired Southview and Manor Park, two UK-based holiday parks, for £49 million, investing £20 million of equity with debt provided by Investec.

This year Electra has also invested £81 million in Ogier Fiduciary Services and £84 million in Hotter Shoes, which it acquired from Gresham Private Equity in a deal that valued the business at around £200 million.

At 11.00 BST, Electra shares were trading at 2,690p, giving the trust a market capitalisation of £952.53 million.