EQT launches €209m bid for Polish manufacturer

The firm’s Warsaw office is closing in on its debut deal, making it the first EQT investment in Central and Eastern Europe.

EQT Partners, the mid-market buyout firm with Scandinavian roots, has launched its first takeover effort in Poland since opening its Warsaw office last year. It has offered to take HTL Strefa, a manufacturing company listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange, private for total of PLN885.6 million (€209 million; $309 million).

Medlance: One of HTL Strefa's products

The offer of PLN13.71 per share represents a premium of 12.7 percent over the weighted average share price for the six months prior to the bid being launched, according to a statement from the firm. The offer has been accepted “irrevocably” by three shareholders who between them hold almost 78 percent of the issued share capital, the firm said.

HTL Strefa manufactures surgical instruments – lancets – used to obtain capillary blood samples. The business was listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange in 2006 and employs 800 people across two Polish sites. In 2008 the business reported revenues of PLN143 million: an 89 percent increase on 2007.

Executing EQT’s growth strategy for HTL Strefa and expansion into new markets will require “substantial investments” said Piotr Czapski, partner at EQT, in a statement.

EQT unveiled its Polish office – its first location in Central and Eastern Europe – in October last year. The firm hired telecoms veteran Czapski, who had previously headed management consultancy McKinsey & Co’s Eastern European business technology practice, to lead the new team.

In making its first investment in the region, EQT will be joining the likes of IK Investment Partners, another firm with its roots in Northern Europe, which made its first and only Polish investment to date in October 2008: an undisclosed investment in train part manufacturer Axtone.

The offer period for THL Strefa will run for the month concluding 26 October.