Electra pushes German MBO through

The UK-based private equity house has backed a E120m management buyout at German specialist water equipment company OASE.

Electra Partners has announced its third European buyout of 2002, backing management at OASE Wübker, a German water gardening products and accessories manufacturer.


Precise financial details of the transaction have not been disclosed, although Electra has agreed to underwrite the entire transaction value, thought to be in the region of E120m, prior to refinancing the deal in 2003. Electra, which beat off competition from a number of trade buyers including German company Gardena, is planning to commit a total of around E65m to the transaction.


“We have already spoken to one or two banks about financing the deal, but that process will start in January,” said Nigel McConnell, who led the deal for Electra. “In order to ensure that the transaction was completed, we had to show the vendor that we were able to complete the deal before year end.”


The OASE management team will continue to run the company under CEO Günter Nosthoff. Over the past five years it has seen turnover rise by an annual average rate of more than 15 per cent, and is already market leader in Germany, UK, Belgium, the Netherlands and France. The firm’s turnover for 2001 was E82m. It is expected that turnover for the year ending 31 December 2002 will be around E100m.


McConnell said the plan for OASE was to expand into new markets, particularly the US and Eastern Europe, but believes that bolt-on acquisitions may not be necessary. “OASE is a neat business and it will continue to enjoy strong growth as long as it continues to successfully identify areas for product development.”


This is Electra Partners Europe’s first management buy-out in Germany since successfully closing a E1bn fund in April 2001, and its third European MBO this year. In July, the firm paid E220m to Pernod Ricard for food wholesaler BWG, beating off competition from Hg, Candover, Alchemy and ABN Amro Capital. In May, the firm agreed to pay E78m for UK gaming business Kunick.


Electra Partners Europe was advised by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Ashurst Morris Crisp, LEK and SJ Berwin.