ISIS defies tough exit market

The UK firm has sold its interest in Tricom Group for £32m, quadrupling its original investment made in 1998.

ISIS Equity Partners, the UK private equity firm, has completed a successful exit of its stake in Tricom Group, the plumbing and heating equipment business it backed four and a half years ago.


ISIS led the £6m management buyout of Tricom from Mannesmann in November 1998 and subsequently supported the £2m acquisition of Fry & Pollard in 1999. Isis announced yesterday that it was selling the business to BSS Group, the UK-listed plumbing and heating company.


BSS is paying a cash consideration of £16.45m plus the assumption of approximately £14m of net debt. BSS will also make a £1.3m contribution to the Tricom pension scheme over three years. Tricom operates through its two divisions, Tricom Supplies and F&P Wholesale, and employs around 360 staff. Tricom reported operating profit of £4.2m on sales of £120.2m in 2002.


The deal gives ISIS an annual rate of return of over 50 per cent, equivalent to 4.3 times original cost. “This represents an excellent result for ISIS and our clients against a generally difficult backdrop for trade exits,” said Adam Holloway, head of portfolio management at ISIS. “BSS was identified at an early stage as a potential purchaser of Tricom.”


Isis Equity Partners, the private equity arm of ISIS Asset Management, held a second close of its third fund on £143m in February. The fund, launched last September, will invest in UK mid-market businesses, predominantly in the business services, consumer markets, healthcare, information technology and media sectors.