3i invests in leading Brazilian eyewear retailer, Óticas Carol

08 Mar 2013

A consortium led by 3i Group plc (“3i” or “3i Group”), an international investor, has agreed to acquire Óticas Carol (“OC”), the second largest eyewear retailer in Brazil, from Brazilian entrepreneur Marcos Amaro. As part of the transaction, OC CEO Ronaldo Pereira will significantly increase his equity stake in the company. Institutional investors Neuberger Berman and Siguler Guff are co-investing alongside 3i in the transaction, which is expected to close by the end of March. The combined equity investment amounts to R$108 million (£36.4m).

Established in 1997, OC sells a broad range of prescription glasses, sunglasses and related eyewear accessories. The OC retail network is comprised of 490 stores across19 states in 235 cities, including São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.  The OC franchising model has successfully attracted optical retailers thanks to the strength of its brand, its strong relationships with suppliers and its dedicated laboratory offering which provides access to an exclusive range of high-quality, own-label lenses.

The highly fragmented eyewear market in Brazil grew at a 15% CAGR between 2006 and 2012.  The market is expected to continue growing significantly above GDP in the coming years thanks to strong domestic demand fuelled by increasing levels of income per capita, low unemployment, an ageing population, more people wearing prescription glasses and the increased use of eyewear as a fashion statement.

3i’s investment will support the OC management team’s plan to expand its store network throughout Brazil. In addition, 3i will work closely with management as an active partner, providing retail sector expertise and international best practice in strategy, operations and governance. 

Simon Borrows, Chief Executive of 3i Group commented: “We continue to see attractive investment opportunities in Brazil and are delighted to be making our second Brazilian investment in a strong business like Óticas Carol alongside Neuberger Berman and Siguler Guff, our two co-investors.”

Marcelo Di Lorenzo, Partner, Managing Director and Head of 3i Brazil said: “Óticas Carol is uniquely positioned in the Brazilian eyewear market. Its differentiated business model will enable the company to expand rapidly across the country. We look forward to working with the management team to continue the company’s growth strategy in the coming years.”  

Ronaldo Pereira, OC’s CEO, added: “With 3i’s support, global expertise and strong local presence, we will significantly increase the pace of expansion of our stores, further strengthen our business proposition to franchisees and attract leading local chains to join our brand. We aim to become the undisputed leader in the Brazilian optical retail space. Our team would like to thank Marcos Amaro for his vision and support during all these years, which were fundamental in transforming us into one of the leading optical retail brands in Brazil.” 

“On behalf of our clients, we are very pleased to partner with 3i in this acquisition in the Brazilian middle market. We see a strong opportunity for OC to continue to expand its store base, consolidate a highly fragmented sector and further strengthen its operations,” said Joana Rocha Scaff, Managing Director of Neuberger Berman Alternatives

“OC fits perfectly into Siguler Guff’s Emerging Markets investment strategy which focuses on opportunities generated from middle class per capita income growth and increasing consumption.  As we have seen in other consumer sectors in Brazil and in more developed markets, we believe that OC is an ideal candidate to lead the consolidation of Brazil’s fragmented eyewear market. After successfully co-investing with 3i in Blue Interactive, we look forward to working together to position OC to take advantage of continued growth in the eyewear market,” added Cesar Collier, Managing Director and head of Siguler Guff’s São Paulo office.
Marcos Amaro said: “I’m very pleased with this transaction. I am also very confident that 3i and its dedicated team will further strengthen OC’s leadership which we have built over the years.”  

For further information, contact:

3i Group - UK
Kathryn van der Kroft    Tel: +44 20 7975 3021
Email: kathryn.vanderkroft@3i.com

3i Group - Brazil
Anthony Dovkants, PR Consulting Brasil    Tel: +55 11 3078 0855
Email: anthony@prconsultingbrasil.com

Neuberger Berman
Alexander Samuelson    Tel: +1 212 476 5392
Email: Alexander.Samuelson@nb.com

Óticas Carol
Rejane Machado    Tel: +55 11 3528 9300
Email: rejane.machado@oticascarol.com.br

Siguler Guff
Cesar Collier, Managing Director    Tel: +55 11 3476 9992
Email: ccollier@sigulerguff.com

Notes to editors:

About 3i Group
3i is a leading international investor focused on mid-market private equity, infrastructure and debt management across Europe, Asia and the Americas. For further information, please visit www.3i.com.

About Neuberger Berman
Neuberger Berman is a private, independent, employee-controlled investment manager. It partners with institutions, advisors and individuals throughout the world to customize solutions that address their needs for income, growth and capital preservation. With more than 1,700 professionals focused exclusively on asset management, it offers an investment culture of independent thinking. Founded in 1939, the company provides solutions across equities, fixed income, hedge funds and private equity, and had $205 billion in assets under management as of December 31, 2012. For more information, please visit our website at www.nb.com.

About Óticas Carol
Óticas Carol, which was founded in 1997 with the goal to satisfy the needs of the Brazilian consumer in the eyewear industry, is one of Brazil’s leading optical chains. It currently has 490 stores across 19 Brazilian states. OC’s mission is to be the best platform for the sustainable growth of its franchisees. It seeks to delight its customers with excellent optical services and products. OC’s vision is to become the largest and most efficient Brazilian optical group, admired by its employees, franchisees, customers and the community. To learn more about Óticas Carol, please visit www.oticascarol.com.br.

About Siguler Guff
Siguler Guff & Company is a multi-strategy private equity investment firm which, together with its affiliates, has over $10.0 billion of assets under management across three lines of business: multi-manager funds, direct investment funds, and separate accounts. Siguler Guff serves over 450 institutional clients and over 500 high-net worth individuals, and the funds it manages have invested in over 350 private equity funds. The firm is headquartered in New York and has offices in Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Moscow, Shanghai, São Paulo and a local affiliate office in Mumbai. To learn more about Siguler Guff, please visit www.sigulerguff.com.