3i agrees buyout of VNU Business Media Europe

18 Dec 2006

3i, Europe’s leading private equity company, announces today it has reached agreement in principle to acquire substantially all of VNU Business Media Europe (BME), the leading Dutch careers classified and B2B magazines group.

BME focuses on the recruitment sector, as well as technology, business and finance, delivering valuable news and information through more than 70 print titles, including such premier brands as Intermediair, Computing, Computable, Accountancy Age and Management Team.  BME’s Intermediair print product is the largest single title in the market.  On-line, BME’s Intermediair Online and Nationale Vacaturebank brands also have a substantial market position.  Overall, BME has the leading position in the print and on-line recruitment market in The Netherlands.

Erik Hoekstra, prospective CEO of BME, and current MD Netherlands, said:  “We are delighted to work with 3i. They exhibited compelling sector knowledge right from the start, coupled with a proven ability to operate alongside us in the various European markets where BME is active.  We are convinced of the exciting growth potential of BME, and in partnership with 3i we are looking forward to making it happen.”

Mark Redman, Partner 3i Buyouts Benelux, commented: “As part of our Dutch media focus, we identified BME as the prime asset in the Dutch recruitment space, with market leading titles such as Intermediair and Nationale Vacaturebank.  Erik Hoekstra and his team have positioned the group fantastically well to take advantage of the exciting online opportunities inherent in the sector.  3i will give BME the firepower it needs to take advantage of the expected continued transition to online, as well as further developing its compelling print offering”.

Crevan O’Grady, 3i’s Head of Media, added: “Classified advertising is a space we know well globally, and we are keen to invest in.  We are attracted by recruitment’s proven on-line model, and 3i has a track record of successful investments in classified ads in newspapers, yellow pages and on-line (e.g. Poliris in France).   The sector is at a point of change which presents an opportunity to back tomorrow’s winners.  We were particularly attracted by BME’s existing platform of a leading on-line offering.  We also believe this is a best-in-class management team we are backing.”

The proposed acquisition includes BME’s operations in The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, Italy and Spain.  The proposed sale of BME’s business in France is still under discussion.  The agreement is subject to compliance with all applicable employee consultations and regulatory clearances, and is expected to complete during February 2007.

3i was advised by LongAcre Partners, London (Eric Lawson-Smith) and Watch Hill, New York (Philip Weymouth), with financial due diligence undertaken by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Amsterdam (Cornelis Smaal) and legal advice from Allen & Overy, Amsterdam (Justin Steer).  3i introduced Rob van den Bergh and Rein Goedkoop, who both acted as Senior Advisers to 3i during the transaction.

About 3i

About 3i
3i is a world leader in private equity and venture capital.  We focus on buyouts, growth capital, infrastructure 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.  www.3i.com

3i Buyouts is the European mid-market leader, with c€8bn in funds under management. The business invests in mid-market transactions with a typical enterprise value of up to €1bn in a wide range of sectors, with a focus on media, healthcare, business services and consumer. 3i Buyout’s competitive edge comes from its pan-European network and global sector insight, access to operating capabilities and delivering unique market access for deal flow and value creation.

The latest successful €5bn fundraising for Eurofund V follows another successful year for 3i Buyouts. Significant realisations across Europe include the sale of: German generic prescription drugs distributor, betapharm; own-label Dutch fruit juice business, Refresco; Swedish clothing, home and accessories retailer Gant; UK environmental due diligence firm ERM; International foreign exchange specialist Travelex; and pan-European directory business Yellow Brick Road (including De Telefoongids).