Phoenix sells pallet business amid fundraising

The UK mid-market firm has completed a string of exits as it continues raising its latest fund.

UK mid-market firm Phoenix Equity Partners has returned about £370 million ($533 million; €478 million) to investors over the past 12 months following a string of exits, Private Equity International understands.

The exits come as the firm begins to invest its latest fund, which still collecting capital and understood to be targeting around £500 million.

The firm announced its latest exit with the sale of freight delivery service Palletways Group to South African logistics group Imperial Holdings for £163 million. The transaction generated a 4.3x return on investment for Phoenix.

Phoenix’ 2004 investment in Palletways was made through its 2001-vintage vehicle, Phoenix Equity Partners IV that raised €300 million, according to PEI Research & Analytics.

Under the firm’s ownership, the company has expanded from its UK base and now operates in 20 European countries to deliver 8 million pallets annually, according to a statement.

The transaction follows the sale of UK-based global testing and inspections company Edif Group last week to Italian testing and inspections group Rina. The sale generated a 2.3x return on cost and total proceeds of around £70 million, according to a statement. The firm invested £30 million in 2011, according to its website. The investment was made through Phoenix Equity Partners 2010, a £450 million fund.

In November, the initial public offering of low-cost gym chain The Gym Group netted a total realised and unrealised return of 2.9x for Phoenix Equity Partners 2010. The firm invested in the company in June 2013 through a secondary buyout alongside existing investor Bridges Ventures.

The sale of events company CloserStill in March to Inflexion Private Equity was the first exit from Phoenix Equity Partners 2010. The transaction generated a return on cost of 3.6x.

In April, Phoenix announced the debut transaction for its latest vehicle, investing in UK online lettings platform The Travel Chapter Group. The new fund held a first close in March.