Graphite makes 9.6x money on Maplin

Montagu Private Equity has acquired UK electronic components company Maplin Electronics from Graphite Capital for £244m.

UK private equity firm Graphite Capital has sold Maplin Electronics, the UK-based maker of electronic components and accessories, to fellow UK private equity house Montagu Private Equity for £244 million (€359 million; $437 million).

Graphite, which acquired 67 percent of Maplin in a £42 million secondary MBO in June 2001, made a total return of 9.6 times its original investment according to a statement, achieving an IRR in excess of 120 percent.

Montagu is backing the incumbent management team of eight directors, led by chairman Keith Pacey and managing director Graham Caldwell, who are reinvesting “a significant proportion of their proceeds from the transaction” according to the statement.

Maplin, which was founded in 1972 as a home-based mail order business, now has 89 stores across the UK and delivered pre-tax profits of £12.2 million on sales of £99.2 million in the 12 months to December 2003.

According to director James Roddis, the transaction is Montagu’s fifth deal in the last three months across Europe. Recent German transactions have included the acquisition of German manufacturer Stabilus from KKR-owned Demag Holding and the €200 million secondary buyout of sausage-case maker Kalle Holding from CVC Capital Partners.

Two weeks ago, Montagu Private Equity completed the secondary buyout of UK-based Survitec Group from Alchemy Partners in a £146 million deal.

Montagu, formerly known as HSBC Private Equity before it became independent last year, has over £2 billion under management. HSBC retains a 19.9 percent stake in the firm.

Graphite Capital manages £750 million through three private funds and the publicly quoted Graphite Enterprise Trust. Graphite was formerly known as F&C Ventures, completing its own management buyout from Foreign & Colonial Management and changing its name just before the acquisition of Maplin in 2001. Its latest fund, Graphite Capital VI, closed in April 2003 on £375 million.