3i sells its 25% stake back to the Senoble family, as 100% owners of the business

31 Mar 2008

3i today announces the divestment of its minority stake in Senoble, the third largest French producer of yoghurts, dairy products and chilled desserts. The Senoble family have bought back 3i’s stake and will now regain 100% ownership of the business, which has doubled in size during 3i’s involvement over the past four years.

Marc Senoble, fourth generation family business owner, sold a 25% holding to 3i in 2004 in order to finance the growth of the group. Four years on, the reults are clear:
- Turnover almost doubled from €630 million to over €1.1 billion  
- International business increased from 25% to 55% of total sales
- Four acquisitions made outside of France, notably that of UK-based Elisabeth The Chef
- Number of industrial manufacturing sites doubled from 6 to 12 (5 in France, 3 in the UK, 1 in Spain, 1 in Italy and 2 in Slovakia)

Thanks to this sustained growth, Senoble, the third biggest manufacturer behind Danone and Lactalis-Nestlé, has joined the leading group of dairy producers in Europe. Senoble is the market leader in private labelled dairy products which represents 85% of the company’s business, with the remaining 15% of which is marketed under the Senoble and Weight Watchers brands or local brands in central Europe.

Marc Senoble has recruited Francois Salamon, former executive at Danone and Club Med, as General Manager in order to add international expertise to the management group.

Marc Senoble comments: “Over the past four years, I have been grateful to have chosen 3i as a partner. Leveraging its international network, indepth sector knowledge and active partnership style, 3i has played a fundamental role in our expansion in the UK and has fervently supported our development strategy in Europe. Furthermore, on a personal level, it has been a real pleasure to work with them.”

Olivier Le Gall, 3i Partner adds : “Senoble, an impressive player on the French market, wanted to expand into other European markets with the help of 3i. Mission accomplished! The group now generates a consolidated turnover of over €1billion through its activities in France and Spain, and also its acquisitions in the UK, Italy and Slovakia. On behalf of 3i, I’m proud to have partenered with Marc Senoble and his teams to achieve such a  fantastic result.”

Calyon (Crédit Agricole group) provided the financing for the transaction.

Notes to editors

Principles

Senoble: Marc Senoble, Alain Perez
3i : Olivier Le Gall, Laurent Savinelli

Advisors

3i advisors
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (Paris) – Jean-Claude Cotoni, Melissa Ferchaux

Senoble advisors
Rothschild & Cie – Thierry Latran, Eric Toulemonde, Mathilde Paoli, Anne-Catherine Philippeau
Mayer Brown LLP (Paris) – Guillaume Kuperfils, Frédéric Vern (Corporate) – O.Parawan, A.Belgrand (Tax) – Mikael Brelot, P.Vigand (Financement).
Deloitte TS Paris – Cyril Stivala, Emmanuel Conjard
Gira – Christophe Lafougère

Financing 
Calyon  – Laurent Chenain, Stephan Herschtel, Bertrand Nung, Litzic Maarek, Mikael Brelot

About 3i

3i is a world leader in private equity and venture capital.  We focus on Buyouts, Growth Capital, Venture Capital, Infrastructure and Quoted Private Equity (“QPE”) and invest across Europe, the United States and Asia.  Our competitive advantage comes from our international network and the strength and breadth of our business relationships.  These underpin the value that we deliver to our portfolio and to our shareholders. This builds on 3i's long and significant experience partnering with family businesses internationally from John Hardy in Asia to Moldmasters in North America and Williams Lea in the UK.