Terra Firma acquires Tank & Rast

The London-based private equity firm has signed an agreement to acquire the German motorway service station group for €1.035bn.

Terra Firma Capital Partners has completed its first German deal with the acquisition of Autobahn Tank & Rast, the motorway services operator, for €1.035 billion ($1.35 billion).

According to a source close to the transaction, Terra Firma will provide €350 million of the purchase price from its €2 billion fund which closed in March this year, with the remainder of the sum comprising senior debt from French bank Société Générale.

Tank & Rast was taken private in 1998 by a consortium comprising private equity firms Apax Partners and Allianz Capital Partners and German airline carrier Lufthansa in a transaction valued at €600 million.

The company operates a network of 338 filling stations, 381 restaurants and 51 motels across Germany and in 2003 generated revenues of €206 million and EBITDA of €130 million.

The company had been operating a dual track sales process, with a Frankfurt IPO considered to be a viable alternative option until recently.

Terra Firma also beat off competition from former bakery chain owner Heiner Kamps, whose bid collapsed earlier in the week when he failed to secure a €1 billion loan from Japanese bank Nomura.

Guy Hands, who left Nomura in 2002 to set up Terra Firma, looked at the possibility of acquiring Tank & Rast when it was privatised in 1998, according to the source.

Terra Firma has stepped up investment activity recently. In August the firm acquired two UK cinema chains, paying around £400 million (€596 million; $720 million) for Odeon and €270 million (£180 million; $325 million) for the UK and Europe network of UCI Cinemas.

This month, fund placement specialist Michael Hewett, formerly a principal in the London office of international placement agent Atlantic-Pacific Capital, will join Terra Firma to fill the newly created position of investor relations director, Europe. He will work alongside incumbent investor relations director Bill Miles.