OpEx Awards 22: Asia-Pacific Large-cap winner – Baring Private Equity Asia

BPEA pivoted Singapore’s Interplex from a low-margin manufacturing company to a provider of customised high-precision products for growth markets.

In 2016, Baring Private Equity Asia acquired Interplex, which was then listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange, and took the company private. The firm embarked upon a transformation strategy that would result in EBITDA almost doubling during its five-year ownership period. Key to this was repositioning the business from a low-margin ‘build-to-print’ company into a specialist ‘build-to-spec’ provider of high-precision products.

Today, Interplex is a provider of vertically integrated customised technology products with operations in 13 countries. Its components are used in automotive electrification, medical and life sciences, information and communication technology, and industrial applications.

“In an industry that faces high cost pressures, BPEA has… significantly improved the operational performance”

To bring about such a transformation, Interplex was restructured into two business units: the Interconnect and High Precision Engineering Group, and the Mechanical Group. A focus was then placed on pivoting towards serving higher-growth and higher-margin end-markets such as medtech, autonomous driving and vehicle electrification, which were benefitting from the trend towards digitalisation and decarbonisation.

The company also increased its presence in key markets through M&A, acquiring OCP Group, a North America-based manufacturer of cables and wire harnesses, in late 2020. As OCP serves customers in both medical and industrial markets, this acquisition helped Interplex grow its footprint in the medical segment.

Other value-creation initiatives included strengthening the company’s management team through the recruitment of a new CEO and 20 leadership positions, as well as creating a new front-end sales organisation and new marketing and key account management teams to enhance support for customers.

Digital transformation was also an important lever – the company began digitising its back-office functions in 2018 and implemented a number of business productivity tools to provide greater business intelligence and efficiencies.

Meanwhile, with BPEA’s support, Interplex worked to increase efficiencies at the product, manufacturing and organisational level. It introduced a global product quality team to spearhead a ‘zero-defects’ approach to manufacturing, invested in automation and productivity improvements, and established a team of seasoned industry executives to help turn around underperforming sites.

BPEA sold Interplex to Blackstone in January 2022 for a total enterprise value of $1.6 billion. The investment returned $1.1 billion of equity at a 4x multiple of invested capital for BPEA’s investors.

“In an industry that faces high cost pressures, BPEA has driven Interplex to operational excellence and significantly improved the operational performance,” said one of the judges.

To access more Baring Private Equity Asia insights, analysis and data, click here