France’s Activa completes third MBO in 2006

The Paris-based private equity firm has carried out a management buyout of electronic and photonic products specialist BFI Optilas, a spin-out from Nasdaq-listed Avnet.

French mid-market private equity firm Activa Capital has completed its third transaction this year with the management buyout and spin off of BFI Optilas.

Jérôme Sibony, an associate at Activa Capital, told PEO that the firm has purchased a majority position in the French producer and distributor of electronic and photonic products but declined to provide further details or a price.

Debt for the transaction was provided by Banque OBC, HSBC and Banque Finama. Activa Capital was advised by Constantin; Jones Day; August & Debouzy; EuroPartners; and Gras Savoye.

Founded in 1998 through the merger of BFI Ibexa and Optilas Group, BFI Optilas has been a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nasdaq-listed electronics business Avnet since 1995. The company has 12 offices spread throughout Europe and has an annual turnover of €120 million, according to Activa Capital.

BFI Optilas’ co-presidents, Phil Dunning and Philippe Gruson, have reinvested in the company and, alongside Avnet, retain a minority stake in the company.

Sibony said that BFI Optilas is Activa Capital’s third investment in 2006. Activa Capital acquired a majority stake in Créal, a French manufacturer of aluminium windows, from Sigefi Private Equity and founder Claude Caprini in April. Earlier in February, the firm completed the MBO of French procurement externalization business Logitrade. Deal terms were not disclosed for either transaction.

Activa Capital’s investments in BFI Optilas, Créal and Logitrade were made from Activa Capital Fund FCPR which closed on €162 million ($206 million) at the end of 2003. According to Sibony, the fund is currently over 50 percent invested and the firm expects to begin marketing a new vehicle in 2007.