Smiths Group plans polymers unit sale

Permira, BC Partners and Montagu Private Equity are among the interested parties for the UK-listed engineering company’s polymers unit.

UK engineering company Smiths Group is considering plans to sell its Polymer Seals business, following a decision to focus on its aerospace and medical equipment divisions.

Polymer Sealing Solutions was formed from TI Group Specialty Polymer Products in 2001, following from the merger of Smiths Industries and TI Group the previous year. The company has 80 facilities in Europe, North America, Latin America and Asia, and reported operating profit last year of £40m on turnover of £400m. The company employs over 4,000 people.


Last week, Smiths Group confirmed its intention to focus on its aerospace and medical units, saying that it would listen to offers for the polymer seals unit. The company also confirmed that it had received ‘several approaches’ for the business.


A number of private equity players have emerged as potential bidders for the business, including BC Partners, linked earlier this week with a bid for the pubs division of Six Continents, Permira, and Montagu Private Equity.


Montagu, the former private equity unit of HSBC, which earlier this week completed its buyout from the bank, has already established links with Smiths Group. The unit backed the £125m management buyout of its UK-based air movement and cable management business in December, the third transaction from its £1.2bn European buyout fund raised last year.


As part of its ongoing disposal program, Smiths is also thought to be planning to sell John Crane, its engineered sealing systems business, although this is not expected before the Polymer sale.