First Islamic acquires UK water company

Crescent Capital, a subsidiary of First Islamic Investment Bank, has beaten off Terra Firma Capital Partners to acquire South Staffordshire water company for £142.6m.

Bahrain-headquartered First Islamic Investment Bank has, through its wholly owned subsidiary, Crescent Capital, agreed to acquire UK water company South Staffordshire for £142.6 million (€204.4 million; $260.8 million).

Shar'iah-compliant Crescent Capital is the private equity arm of the bank responsible for identifying and structuring private equity, corporate and real estate investments.

The firm offered 1120 pence per South Staffordshire share, representing an enterprise value of £236.7 million (including debt of £94.1 million). The offer was made through holding vehicle AquaInvest, owned by First Islamic.

South Staffordshire had attracted attention from a number of private equity firms and London-based Terra Firma had reportedly indicated strong interest. Guy Hands’ firm has been active in the utilities market this year, acquiring the British waste management business of Shanks, the European waste management company, for £227.5m in May.

Also earlier this year, the Atlanta office of Crescent Capital acquired US fashion retailer Loehmann’s in a take-private transaction worth approximately $177 million (€150 million).

As shar’iah compliant, the firm typically shuns companies in the alcohol, gambling, and media industries. Islamic law governs what is considered to be sinful.

Founded in 1996 in Bahrain, First Islamic also has offices in London and Atlanta. As at the end of 2003, the firm had assets under management of $3.6 billion, total assets of $818 million and had generated net income of $44.8 million for 2003.