Italy’s BS exits sea-transport investment

Italian private equity firm BS has sold a majority interest in STC, an Italian short sea transportation group, reporting an IRR of over 45 in the three years it has owned the business.

BS Private Equity, the Italian mid-market buyout firm, has unloaded most of its stake in Società Trasporti Combinati, an Italian short sea transportation group.

BS retains a 20 per cent stake in the business, while a new investor, Star Social Responsible Fund, a medium-size close-end fund sponsored by Efibanca Palladio Finanziaria, has become the majority shareholder. Management has retained a 21 percent stake.


STC operates short sea transportation services in Europe and North Africa. The group comprises four entities, based in Italy, France, Morocco and Tunisia, with a consolidated turnover of €35.5 million in 2003. The group, headed by Fabrizio Bertacchi, employs approximately 120 staff.


BS Private Equity originally backed the management team in 2000 as part of the buyout from the company’s founders. Since then, STC has increased its turnover by an average of 11 percent, while EBITDA has increased by 75 percent, according to BS.


As a result of the sale, at the end of a three year investment period, BS Private Equity has reported an IRR higher than 45 percent, a cash-to-cash ratio above three and a capital gain on cost of €14 million ($17.6 million).


Last summer, BS Private Equity held a final close of one of the largest Italy-focused buyout funds, raising €550 million. In the past twelve months BS Private Equity has completed six new transactions, including the recent offer for Euphon, the Italian media production company.