Gresham leads Alstom buy-out

A management buy-out of Alstom Automation Group was secured for £53m (E91m).

Gresham Trust will take a majority stake in the business – which provides specialised materials handling solutions and services in the UK and Europe.

AAG is a subsidiary of Alstom, the French transport and energy group that is itself rumoured to be up for sale. The struggling conglomerate is trading below its issue price and is seeking to refocus its activities on a number of core areas through targeted acquisitions and by selling off non-core assets like AAG.

For Gresham, a mid-market buy-out specialist, the deal represents the second completed by its Birmingham office since it opened six months ago, and culminates a year's negotiations with AAG management.

Investment director Peter Naylor told PrivateEquityOnline Gresham was looking at between 3 and 5 years to secure to a return from the purchase.

“The strategy going forward is to grow the businesses outside the Alstom framework. They will be able to focus much more on their sectors rather than working a part of a larger operation,” he said.

The Gresham team is confident the logistics business in France, Spain and the UK is well placed to take advantage of the handling and distribution needs generated by the fast-growing e-commerce market.

The management team will be led by Martin Melling, who is continuing as group chief executive, and the group's current finance director, Gary Wesley. The team was advised by Stephen Craik of KPMG Corporate Finance, who also originated the deal.

Bank of Scotland Structured Finance provided the senior debt and working capital facilities.

Legal advice was provided to Gresham Trust and AAG by Pinsent Curtis, and to the management team by Martineau Johnson & Co.