LDC in £100m packaging exit

The divestment of Benson Group will net Lloyds’ PE arm a return of more than 2x.

LDC, the private equity arm of Lloyds Banking Group, has sold its stake in Benson Group, a UK-based carton manufacturer, for £100 million to New York-listed Graphic Packaging International, according to a statement.

The divestment netted UK-based LDC, which invested in the company in December 2011, a return of “just over 2x”, according to a person familiar with the matter.

LDC declined to comment beyond the statement.

Benson Group supplies printed folding cartons to the food retail sector as well as to the pharmaceutical sector. It has a workforce of more than 900, with manufacturing sites in Newcastle, Gateshead and Crewe.

Under LDC’s ownership, Benson Group has invested in its infrastructure by installing new machineries at all of its UK operations. The company has delivered “strong financial growth” in the two years of LDC’s investment, with annual turnover rising to £120 million in the current financial year, according to LDC.

The original investment and divestment from Benson Group was led by LDC’s chief investment officer Martin Draper and investment director Andy Grove. LDC and management received legal support from Eversheds in Nottingham.

The sale of Benson Group marks LDC’s first exit of the year. Earlier this month, it backed global media content company Imagine Nation for an undisclosed amount. In January, LDC agreed to buy a significant stake in Bluestone Group, a financial services business which specialises in consumer loan purchasing and debt servicing.