Merrill Lynch wins dentist auction

The global bank’s private equity arm has bought a UK dentist, reportedly seeing off competition from rival firms including Blackstone and Bridgepoint.

Merrill Lynch Private Equity has bought Integrated Dental Holdings from UK mid-market buyout firm LGV Capital, according to a statement. Terms were undisclosed but the firm paid around £300 million (€402.2 million; $583.6 million), according to someone close to the deal.

The US bank managed to trump bids from Duke Street Capital-owned dentist chain Oasis Healthcare, US buyout firm The Blackstone Group and European buyout firm Bridgepoint, according to media reports.

Michael Mowlem at LGV Capital, said his firm had made a more than four times return in less than 2 years with an internal rate of return of 120 percent.  

Mowlem said: “We bought the business on the cusp of a new NHS contract and we used the business as a platform for growth.” The business made several acquisitions including the acquisition of orthodontristry company Orthoworld, he said.

Merrill Lynch Investment Banking and big four accountant PricewaterhouseCoopers advised Merrill Lynch Private Equity. Hawkpoint Partners advised LGV and management.  Financing was provided by European banks Bank of Ireland, Barclays, Merrill Lynch and RBS.

Merrill Lynch Private Equity owns a 74 percent stake in electrical company Rexel alongside US buyout firm Clayton Dubilier & Rice and French buyout firm Eurazeo.

It was also one of the firms that made record profits from the float of UK department store Debenhams alongside European buyout firm CVC Capital Partners and global buyout firm TPG Capital.

Matthew Turner joined Merrill Lynch Private Equity last year as head of its Europe, Middle East and Africa team.

“Since [Merrill Lynch’s new chief executive] John Thain arrived he has made it clear that principal investment should be at the heart of our activities.” Turner said he had been brought in to strengthen and expand the firm’s capabilities in Europe.