Oakley seals Italy deal ahead of fund close

The price comparison site deal comes from OCPE II Master, which is likely to close imminently

UK-based Oakley Capital has acquired a majority stake in Facile.it, Italy’s largest car insurance broker and price comparison website. Facile’s founders will also re-invest part of their proceeds in the buyout, according to the firm.

According to a regulatory filing by Oakley Capital Investments Limited (OCIL), a vehicle listed on London’s Alternative Investment Market designed to give retail investors access to Oakley’s limited partnership funds, the investment is being made from Oakley’s second fund, OCPE II Master, a 2013 vintage with a target of €500 million. OCIL said its exposure to this particular deal via Fund II was €27 million.

OCIL also said that it had increased its own commitment to Fund II by €50 million, taking its total commitment to €200 million. This takes the total amount of capital committed to Fund II to €497 million. A source close to the firm told Private Equity International that the fund will close shortly.

Oakley declined to comment on fundraising.

Facile was originally established in 2008 to provide consumers with access to the best car insurance premiums. Since then it has expanded to include gas and electricity, broadband internet services, bank accounts and mobile phones. According to Oakley, Facile now helps 1.5 million Italians per month compare prices for various products.

The business generated revenues of €28.6 million and EBITDA of €4.7 million in 2013, well up on the equivalent figures for 2012 of €19.3 million and €0.4 million respectively.

Oakley believes that Facile can continue to grow, since Italy’s car insurance market is one of Europe’s largest by value – it’s currently worth about €20 billion – but has yet to fully develop online. Currently only 10 percent of premiums are purchased online, whereas in the UK around 81 percent of the country’s similarly-sized market is purchased online.

Oakley Capital’s Peter Dubens added that Oakley has substantial experience in this sector courtesy of Fund I’s investment in Verivox, a German consumer energy and telecommunications price comparison website. Oakley made an initial €16 million investment for a 49 percent stake in Verivox in 2009, which it later topped up to 51 percent with shares bought from management.

Oakley typically invests in companies with enterprise values between €40 million and €150 million, with a targeted equity investment size of between €20 million and €60 million, according to its website.

This is the firm’s fourth investment from Fund II, Dubens said. In March, Oakley invested $65 million of equity from Fund II into Connecticut-based marine technology company North Technology Group.

Oakley Capital shares were quoted at 160.5 pence on Wednesday, giving the firm a market cap of £205.64 million