3i backs MBO of Wendt in 86m deal

31 Mar 2005

3i is pleased to announce that it has backed the management buyout ("MBO") of Wendt GmbH ("Wendt"), a leading German manufacturer of super-abrasive precision grinding machines and tools, in an €86m deal.  Wendt has been sold by Anglo American plc, the global mining and natural resources company.

Wendt supplies solutions for high-end grinding operations in the automotive, aerospace and cutting tools industries.  The company focuses on exceptionally demanding grinding applications that require the use of super-abrasives and delivers highly customised products to its customers. 

The company has an outstanding track record in introducing innovative processes to the market and enjoys the reputation of dedication to quality, highly experienced staff and being able to deliver on its promise.

Wendt operates in a fast growing, global market for grinding tools which is forecast to continue to increase substantially over the coming years, primarily due to demand from the automotive market.  A secondary growth driver is the mounting use of hard materials in the aerospace and cutting tools industries.

The MBO team has identified a number of growth areas including introducing new applications and machines that require state of the art grinding operations as well as exploiting growth opportunities in Asia.  Furthermore, the team aims to increase tool sales in the US and expand Wendt's OEM partnering activities.

Walter Münnich, who has been appointed non-executive chairman, has a successful track record in the industry, having previously held the position of CEO of Flender AG, then part of Babcock Group and having led the MBO of Elexis, the German factory automation specialists, which subsequently floated in 1999. 

Mike Robins, 3i's head of German buyouts, commented: "We are delighted to be supporting the MBO of Wendt, as we believe the company is the technology and quality leader in its field.  This deal has been achieved through a joint approach by our London and Frankfurt teams demonstrating our international reach and expertise.  We look forward to working with the management team to further develop Wendt's leading position in the market."

Walter Münnich, non-executive chairman Wendt, commented: "I am delighted to be joining Wendt.  The company is at the forefront of its market in terms of both quality and innovation and I see enormous potential to strengthen this position.  I am particularly excited about prospects in China and India where a strong increase in car production will drive demand for our products."  

Norbert Lamers, CEO Wendt, commented: "I am delighted that 3i is backing the MBO of Wendt.  I am confident that they will strongly support our growth and expansion strategies and will contribute to the future development of the company."

Notes to editors

About 3i
3i is a world leader in private equity and venture capital. It focuses on Buyouts, Growth Capital and Venture Capital and invests across Europe, in the United States and in Asia Pacific. Its competitive advantage comes from its international network and the strength and breadth of its relationships in business. These underpin the value that it delivers to its portfolio and to its shareholders.

In the 6 months to 30 September 2004, 3i invested £521m, including co-investment funds.  3i's buyout business concentrates on the mid and smaller buyout markets in Europe and Asia Pacific and invested £305m in the 6 months to 30 September 2004.  Its growth capital business invested £142m in that period in high growth companies expanding organically or through acquisition. 3i's venture capital business invested £74m in the 6 months to 30 September 2004 in early stage technology companies.
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About Wendt 
Headquartered in Meerbusch, Germany (near Düsseldorf), Wendt specialises in the development of grinding solutions for hard materials (tungsten carbide, ceramics and polycrystalline hard materials), steel and glass.  These include the manufacture of advanced robotic grinding machines and systems as well as diamond and CBN grinding wheels, diamond dressing and profiling tools.  Wendt employs some 845 people and has plants in Belgium, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Russia, India and the USA.