Inflexion snaps up UK air conditioning firm

Inflexion Private Equity has bought Aspen Pumps, one of Europe’s leading air conditioning businesses, in a deal worth about £25 million.

UK mid-market firm Inflexion Private Equity has become the latest firm to cash in on the burgeoning air conditioning market, after buying UK-based Aspen Pumps for about £25 million (€36 million; $48 million).

Inflexion is backing a management buyout of Aspen, the UK’s market leading supplier of condensate pumps, which clear condensation from bathrooms and kitchens.

Financial details were not disclosed, but a banking source said the company was valued at about £25 million.

The air conditioning market has grown substantially in recent years as spending power has increased across Western Europe. Concerns about climate change have also helped to boost the market.

This growth has proved an attractive proposition to private equity firms. Last July ABN Amro Capital bought Volution, the maker of Vent-Axia fans, in a deal thought to be worth about £160 million.

Inflexion has brought in two senior executives to strengthen Aspen’s management team: Adrian Thompson, the former managing director of Greenwood Air Management, and industry veteran Ian Stuart, who joins as chairman. The management team are all investing in the buyout.

Aspen, which was founded in 1992, employs 50 staff in the UK but has distribution arrangements in more than 50 countries worldwide.

Inflexion managing partner Simon Turner said: “Aspen is a clear industry leader, with sustainable growth and ample opportunities to drive value against a background of strong market expansion.”

Ernst & Young advised Inflexion, while Lloyds TSB provided debt finance. The deal was originated by BDO Stoy Hayward.

It is Inflexion’s second deal of 2007, following the £12 million acquisition of UK-based software provider Tekton Group in January.