Montagu linked to Maplin deal

Maplin Electronics, the UK-based maker of electronic gadgets, is understood to be close to a £240m sale to Montagu Private Equity, the mid-market private equity firm.

According to a report in London’s The Times newspaper, Montagu Private Equity is in exclusive talks to buy Maplin Electronics, the electronic gadgets specialist, for around £240 million (€357 million; $431 million) from fellow UK private equity firm Graphite Capital.

The report says Montagu is supporting the incumbent management team of eight directors, who are planning to re-invest around half their combined stake if the proposed deal goes through. They are reported to have seen a sixfold increase in the value of the holding since Graphite acquired Maplin in a £42 million management buyout in 2001.

Maplin was founded in 1972 as a home-based mail order business run by entrepreneurs Roger Allen and Doug Simmons. Now headed by chairman Dr Keith Pacey and managing director Graham Caldwell, the business has grown to more than 80 stores as well as boasting a website and catalogue selling gadgets ranging from insect killers to miniature robots.

In the year to December 2003, Maplin delivered pre-tax profits of £12.2 million on sales of £99.2 million. The report said it was understood that Montagu had beaten off competition from about ten other potential buyers.

Earlier in the month, Montagu acquired Survitec, a survival technology company, from Alchemy Partners for £146 million. Montagu, formerly known as HSBC Private Equity before it became independent last year, has over £2 billion under management.