European private equity firm Bridgepoint Capital has achieved its third exit in Scandinavia since it began investing in the Nordic region eight years ago.
A consortium of investors comprising Bridgepoint Capital, Norwegian investment firm Foinco and Finnish mutual group Tapiola have sold Huurre Group, a cold store manufacturer based in Finland, to the company’s management and Nordic investment bank Kaupthing.
Since its acquisition of Huurre Group in 1998, Bridgepoint has funded a number of acquisitions for the business including Norwegian rival Prepan in 1999, and Svensk Butiksservice in 2000, the Swedish refrigeration maintenance and installation division of grocery retail chain ICA.
The financial details of the sale of the business, which was acquired in 1998 for E37m, have not been disclosed. In 2002 Huurre reported turnover of E146.9m and EBITDA of E14.3m. Senior bank loan facilities for the transaction were provided by Bank of Scotland.
“We achieved a good return on our investment because the business has performed well over the past five years,” said Bridgepoint director Graham Oldroyd. “Huurre has grown significantly under our ownership from a combination of organic growth and bolt-on acquisitions. This has taken the company to a market-leading position in Scandinavia.”
Oldroyd said Finland was likely to be a key market for the firm in the Nordic region. “We are looking to build our Nordic team with Finland as the key market for us in the region.” Oldroyd currently heads a team of four from the firm’s Stockholm offices. Chris Busby, investment director at Bridgepoint in Stockholm for the past five years, is moving to the firm’s London transaction team.
Oldroyd said he expects to make a number of acquisitions in the region this year. “Although growth is not strong in the Nordic region, the market is not in recession and the M&A market is holding up quite well. We’re cautiously optimistic for the coming year.”
Bridgepoint’s biggest deal to date in the Nordic region was the 2001 buyout of Nordisk Parkering (NP), the largest privately owned car park operator in the region, in a deal worth more than SKr800m. In August of the same year, Bridgepoint sold Capella, the Swedish data services outsourcing business it backed in 1998, to Finland Post for an undisclosed sum.