Toy maker Vivid goes to Privet in “special sits” deal

UK mid-market firm Phoenix had struggled to sell the company after 14 years of ownership.

Deal-by-deal investor Privet Capital has acquired toy company Vivid Toy Group after 14 years of ownership by fellow UK private equity firm Phoenix Equity Partners.

Steve Keating, Privet managing partner, described the deal as a “special situations” acquisition. “The company is profitable but needs investment,” he said. He declined to comment on the deal value but the firm typically invests equity up to £10 million in businesses “experiencing financial stress”, according to its website. Vivid has revenue of around £80 million.

Phoenix, which acquired the company in 2002 for £62 million, has sought but failed to find a buyer for the business on a number of occasions in recent years, a person with knowledge of the deal told PEI. Another source told PEI the deal had resulted “in a good return overall” for Phoenix and that the timing of the sale was due to the fact that the 2001 fund the investment was made from is coming to the end of its life. Phoenix declined to comment.

Vivid has produced toys for well-known brands such as Moshi Monsters, Thunderbirds and Bratz Dolls.

“The toy sector is a €15 billion sector in Europe and it’s stable and non-cyclical. People will always buy toys for their kids – it’s one of the last things people stop buying,” Keating said.

Privet was founded in 2008 by Keating and invests on a deal-by-deal basis, backed by family offices and high-net-worth individuals. The firm currently has five portfolio companies, Keating said.

Following the Privet acquisition, Vivid will be under private equity ownership for the third time in almost twenty years after New York private equity firm Jordan Group acquired an 80 percent stake in 1998 for £25 million.