KKR-led trio offers €1.43bn for Vendex

Vendex, the Dutch retailer, has received a €1.43 billion offer from a private equity consortium comprising Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, AlpInvest Partners and Change Capital Partners.

A private equity trio comprising Kohlberg Kravis Roberts of the US, AlpInvest Partners of the Netherlands and UK-based Change Capital Partners have offered €1.43 billion for Vendex, a Dutch retailer listed on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange. 

In a statement, Vendex said it had completed exploratory discussions on a possible bid for all its outstanding shares, which had led to a bid from the consortium of €16 per ordinary share subject to completion of negotiations on a merger protocol and “limited confirmatory due diligence”.

Vendex added that it was “positively disposed” to the offer and had entered into exclusive negotiations with the consortium. It said it would consult the Vendex central works council and expected to provide further information within two to three weeks.

A spokesperson for KKR said the consortium was “uniquely suited” to the deal due to the a combination of KKR’s financial capabilities, Change Capital’s experience of the retail sector and AlpInvest’s knowledge of the Dutch market. The same source said KKR is the lead investor in the transaction, for which debt finance is being arranged by ABN Amro, Citigroup and ING.

The source added that the consortium was “attracted to the business due to its strong formats and market positions in department stores, DIY, apparel and electronic retailing.”

In what was a competitive sale process, the consortium is reported to have beaten off competition from a joint offer from UK-based private equity houses Cinven and Permira. French investor PAI was also reported to have been an interested party. 

Vendex is a Dutch non-food retailer with additional operations in Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, Germany and France. Founded in 1870, the company owns more than 1,650 outlets including the Bijenkorf department store on Amsterdam’s Dam Square.

In the fourth quarter of 2003, Vendex reported flat sales of €1.18 billion, including a nine per cent decline in sales at its Vroom & Dreesmann store, which is being revamped. Prior to the sale process being launched, some Vendex shareholders had called for an external financial injection due to Vroom & Dreesmann’s troubles.     

KKR has led a number of European buyouts recently including MTU, the aerospace division of DaimlerChrysler. AlpInvest Partners has also been active since it spun out of banking parent NIB Capital in February. Change Capital was launched by former Marks & Spencer chairman Luc Vandevelde last year and bought UK retailer Robert Dyas earlier this month for £61 million.