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Equistone offloads Uetikon to Ardian’s Novacap

The sale comes a month after the pan-European firm closed its fifth fund on its €2bn hard-cap

Pan-European private equity firm Equistone Partners Europe has sold its majority shareholding in chemicals manufacturer CU Chemie Uetikon to French pharmaceuticals and chemicals company Novacap, a portfolio company of Ardian, according to a statement from the firm.

Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed. Equistone declined to comment on financials.

Uetikon, based in Lahr, Germany, manufactures specialised fine chemicals and pharmaceutical ingredients, providing services to pharmaceutical companies worldwide.

Equistone acquired a majority shareholding though a management buyout in November 2011. Uetikon posted a turnover of around €40 million in 2014 and has around 135 employees, according to Equistone.

Since acquisition Equistone has expanded the management team and “invested in a sustainable strategy for growth”, according to Equistone managing director in Switzerland, Philippe Stüdi.

Ardian first invested in Novacap, in which it has a majority shareholding, in January 2011, in a deal valuing the business at €240 million.

Novacap is organised around four independent business units: Novacarb, a producer of inorganic chemical products; Novapex, which produces organic chemical products; Novacid, a distributor of hydrochloric acid and producer of calcium chloride; and Novacyl, which produces aspirin and salicylic acid.

In May last year the company refinanced on the high yield bond market, issuing €310 million in senior secured floating rate notes, which are due in 2019. It also secured a €65 million super senior revolving credit facility.

The refinancing was sought to enable Novacap to “benefit from a more flexible balance sheet and finance structure to pursue growth, both organically and through carefully selected add-ons”, according to a statement from Novacap and Ardian at the time.

Last month Equistone held a first and final close on its fifth fund at its hard-cap of €2 billion after just six months in market.

Equistone Partners Europe Fund V came to market in October 2014 with an initial target of €1.75 billion. Investors in the fund include pension funds, funds of funds, sovereign wealth funds and insurance companies, Private Equity International reported previously. 

Fund V will follow a similar strategy to its predecessors, investing in European buyouts valued at between €50 million and €300 million.

Recent transactions by the firm include the sale of a majority holding in A-Plan Insurance to HgCapital in December in a deal valuing the business at around £300 million (€470 million; €378 million), which generated a return for Equistone of 2.8x, and the acquisition of a majority stake in French multi-specialist insurance broker Finaxy Group in April last year.