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Hg sells €220m toy maker to Ardian

Ardian’s latest deal marks the eighth full realisation from Hg’s fifth fund.

Paris-based Ardian has acquired toy manufacturing Schleich from London-based HgCapital, according to a statement.

Financial details of the transaction were undisclosed, but a source familiar with the matter told Private Equity International that the enterprise value was approximately €220 million.

Ardian and Hg declined to comment beyond the statement.

Schleich, which was established in 1935, is a one of Germany’s biggest toy manufacturers. Its toys are sold in more than 50 countries.

Hg acquired a majority stake in the family-owned business in December 2006 for an undisclosed sum, using its HgCapital Fund 5, a £958.3 million, 2006-vintage.

After a period of stagnation in 2011 and 2012, a change in management was implemented in 2013, and the company “returned to a path of sustainable growth”, Hg said in the statement. In 2013, Schleich achieved a 7 percent growth in sales while increasing its profitability compared with the previous year.

Under Hg’s ownership, sales have grown from €61 million to €106 million, with the number of employees increasing from approximately 190 to 340 today. Additionally, the company has entered new markets, including the US, and launched new product ranges.

Ardian has acquired a stake in the company using its €2.4 billion LBO Fund V, which it closed in October 2013, just after spinning out from its insurer parent AXA Group. Ardian has already made several investments using capital from this vehicle. In December, it bought a majority stake in in NHV Group (NHV), a Belgium-based helicopter transport services group. In March, Dominic Gaillard told PEI that the vehicle was already 35 percent deployed.

This divestment marks the eighth full realisation from HgCapital 5. In recent months, Hg has realised six investments, including the IPO of Manx Telecom, which generated a 2.1x return, and the sale of Americana International, the owner of the international fashion brand Bench, to EMERAM Capital Partners. Last November, Hg sold electronic marketplace provider Epyx to US-based fuel payment processing company Fleetcor, generating a 2.7x return.