Second October exit for Bridgepoint

The mid-market buyout firm has completed its second exit this month, selling its stake in Artform International to IMI plc for £48m.

Bridgepoint Capital, the UK-based mid-market private equity firm, has continued its run of exits with the sale of Artform International, a display products designer and manufacturer, to UK-listed IMI plc.

NatWest Equity Partners, the name under which Bridgepoint Capital was trading prior to the firm’s management buyout in May 2000 from UK retail bank Natwest, acquired Artform International for £38m in December 1997. The firm declined to reveal multiples and IRR following the exit but said it had achieved a “healthy return” on its investment.


Under the deal, IMI is acquiring 93 per cent of Artform. The remaining seven per cent of Artform will be retained by the management team until 2007, when put and call options become exercisable at a price ranging from a minimum of £1.5m to a maximum of £5.9m dependent upon performance.


Artform, founded in Loughborough over 25 years ago designs and manufactures point-of-purchase display units for European consumer companies. Last year, the company reported pre-tax profit of £4.3m on sales of £33m. The bulk of Artform’s sales are in European markets and its current customers include Nike and L’Oreal. The company employs 425 people.


The Artform exit follows Bridgepoint's £24.7m sale of Walters Hexagon Group to Anixter International of the US, completed earlier this month. To date this year, Bridgepoint has returned E200m to its investors and completed six new investments from its E2bn Bridgepoint Europe II fund.


The original buyout by NatWest Equity Partners was financed with senior debt facilities from NM Rothschild and mezzanine funding from ABN Amro Causeway Mezzanine. NM Rothschild also advised Bridgepoint on sale to IMI.