3i agrees 730 million buyout of Global Garden Products

11 Oct 2007

3i, Europe’s leading mid-market private equity and venture capital company, and funds managed by 3i have signed an agreement to acquire Global Garden Products (“GGP"), Europe’s leading manufacturer and distributor of lawn mowers and powered garden equipment, from ABN Amro Capital and AAC Capital Partners.

The transaction, which is subject to regulatory approval, values the business at €730 million.  Existing management, led by CEO Pierluigi Tosato, will invest alongside 3i.

Lorenzo Salieri, Partner of 3i Italy who led the transaction, commented: "We were very impressed with the quality of the Management Team.  Pierluigi Tosato and his team have been highly committed and successful in creating Europe's dominant market leader in powered gardening equipment.  With the financial and strategic support of 3i, we see tremendous opportunities to continue driving the business forward in the future."

Pierluigi Tosato, CEO of GGP, commented: "We are grateful to ABN AMRO Capital and AAC Capital Partners for their support in building the business into a leading European player.  With the support of 3i’s global network, we look forward to growing our market share further, expanding into high growth territories such as Eastern Europe and Russia and exploring opportunities of cooperation with potential partners in US and Asia."

Marco Fumagalli, Partner and Managing Director of 3i Italy, commented: "The current situation in the financial markets is not easy and closing the deal for the acquisition of GGP required a good dose of courage and creativity.  We are very pleased that we will be able to work in partnership with the management team in order to grow the business and prepare it for an IPO.”

“We are proud to have worked with the team of Pierluigi Tosato – commented Antonio Corbani, Managing Director of ABN Amro Capital in Italy – repositioning the company from a producer of private labels to a real consumer product company with own brands and a leader in the European market.  We wish GGP and 3i to continue on this path of success.”

GGP was put up for sale in July by ABN Amro Capital, following which a competitive auction was held, managed by UBS.  ABN Amro Capital and AAC Capital Partners were advised by UBS (financial advisor), Dewey & Leboeuf (legal) and PwC (financial due diligence).  3i was advised by Morgan Stanley (financial advisor), Studio Chiomenti (legal) and KPMG (financial due diligence).

Following completion of the transaction, the Board of GGP will include Group CEO Pierluigi Tosato, together with representatives of 3i: Paolo Antonietti, 3i Senior Advisor, as Chairman; Marco Fumagalli, Partner and Managing Director of 3i Italy, as Non Executive Director; and Lorenzo Salieri, Partner of 3i Italy, as Non Executive Director.

GGP is the leading European manufacturer of walk-behind and ride-on lawnmowers as well as a wide range of hand-held gardening equipment and accessories.  Its leading brands include Stiga, Castelgarden, Mountfield, Alpina and Belos.  The company also manufactures private label products for the leading garden and DIY centres in Europe.  In addition, GGP manufactures products for original equipment manufacturers including John Deere and Honda.

GGP is an international group, with headquarters in Castelfranco Veneto, Italy and 15 subsidiaries in Europe, China and Russia.  Production is based in 4 manufacturing facilities in Europe (2 in Italy, 1 in Sweden and 1 in Slovakia).

The company employs around 1,800 people and sales to year ending August 31 2007 amounted to EUR 546 million with EUR 84 million EBITDA.  The company plans to invest in new technologies and Research & Development 70% of total capital expenditure and around 3% of sales in the next few years.  GGP distributes its products in more than 80 countries worldwide.  Its largest markets are UK, Germany, France, Italy and the Nordic countries.

The European powered garden equipment market is estimated to be worth EUR 2.2 billion, with GGP being the market leader with 21% market share (40% market share in the specific segment of ride-ons and front mowers tractors).  It is a market with a solid demand base which is set for continued growth.

*In September 2007, the Northern European buyout business of ABN AMRO Capital became AAC Capital Partners. 

Notes to editors

About AAC Capital Partners
AAC Capital Partners (formerly ABN AMRO Capital) is one of Europe's leading private equity firms, with teams operating in three countries in Northern Europe (the Netherlands, UK, and Sweden). Total funds under management by AAC Capital Partners (as at 30 June 2007) were € 3.1 billion. AAC Capital Partners’ main focus is to back management buyouts and management buy-ins of profitable, cash-generative Northern European companies, usually with a value between € 50 – 500 million in the industrial, services and consumer sectors.

So far in 2007, AAC Capital Partners has executed six buyouts (Dunlop Aircraft Tyres, OyezStraker, T.G.I. Friday’s, Baarsma Wine Group, Sdu, Vetus).  AAC Capital Partners has recently completed exits from FABORY, TMI, Park Resorts and Iittala. 
www.aaccapitalpartners.com

About ABN Amro Capital
ABN AMRO Capital in Italy manages a portfolio of mid-market buy-outs, typically within a deal range of €50 to 350 mln. The companies, headquartered in Italy, compete globally and enjoy leadership positions (number 1 or 2) in their reference markets. Examples of our investments include Bianchi Vending Group (manufacturer of vending machines) and ACC (manufacturer of compressors for the white good industry).

About 3i

3i is a world leader in private equity and venture capital.  We focus on buyouts, growth capital and venture capital and invest across Europe, in the United States and Asia. Our competitive advantage comes from our international network and the strength and breadth of our relationships in business.  These underpin the value that we deliver to our portfolio and to our shareholders. 

For further information please contact:

Kathryn van der Kroft
email. kathryn.vanderkroft@3i.com
tel.  +44 207 975 3021