PAI Partners, the re-branded private equity firm which gained independence last year from Paribas, has launched a takeover bid for Grandvision, the French optical retailer with interests across Europe, valuing the business at E490m.
Grandvision, listed on the Paris Bourse, counts a number of Europe’s leading optical store brands among its European operations, including Vision Express, GrandOptical, Générale d'Optique and Solaris. The business has operations in eight countries including Switzerland, Belgium, Italy, the UK, Spain and the Czech Republic.
Grandvision published half-year figures earlier this month which reported sales of E305m, up two per cent on the previous year. The company opened eight new stores during the period, taking the total number of stores to 386.
PAI Partners, formerly known as PAI Management, has offered E21 per share for Grandvision, valuing the company at E490m, according to the Conseil des Marches Financiers, the French takeover panel. Grandvision founders and co-chairmen Daniel Abittan and Michel Likierman and co-chief executives Elie Vannier and Jean-Luc Selignan have agreed along with other founding shareholders to sell 23 per cent of the company's capital, including 37 per cent of the total voting rights, to PAI Partners
The offer was made at a E3 per share premium to the E18m closing price on July 21 and at a E4.10 premium to the average price during the past twelve months.
In a statement to the Paris Bourse, PAI partners said that the firm’s aim would be to reverse the strategy that had seen the company focus solely on profit and not continued growth. After a period of international expansion, including the acquisition of UK-based Vision Express in 1997, the company has scaled back its international operations, closing stores in Argentina, Poland, Lithuania and Estonia. PAI said the fall in the company’s share price since 2001 had been the result of the company’s decision to scale back its overseas operations.
French public-to-private deals have been thin on the ground in recent years, due largely to the legal complexities of completing such a transaction. Last year, CVC and PAI struggled to acquire the remaining interest in Provimi, the French animal feeds manufacturer, following the acquisition of a 54 per cent stake in the business for E205m from Edison. A buyer is required to own 95 per cent of the stock of a company before it is able to force minority shareholders to sell their interests.
This week, Industri Kapital announced the recapitalisation of Fives-Lilles, a French industrial group taken private by the Swedish private equity house in 2001 in a deal worth E235m.
Trading in Grandvision has been suspended until further notice. PAI partners is being advised by HSBC-CCF. Grandvision is being advised by Rothschild.