3i sells PL International interest to Varian, Inc. in £23m deal

09 Nov 2005

3i, Europe's leading private equity and venture capital company, today announces that it has sold its minority stake in PL International to Nasdaq listed USA company, Varian, Inc. for £6.5m in a deal valued at £23m.  3i is making an IRR of 41% on its original investment.

As part of the deal, Varian, Inc. will acquire all of PL International's three main business units in their entirety.  These include Polymer Laboratories is a leader in the development of consumables and instrumentation for advanced polymer analysis, including columns, standards and specialist chromatography systems dedicated to Gel Permeation Chromatography (GPC) analysis.  Polymer Laboratories also manufactures systems for high throughput screening and process monitoring applied to polymeric materials. 

For HPLC, Polymer Laboratories manufactures robust polymeric media and columns for biochromatography, and specialist detectors.  For the pharmaceutical and clinical diagnostic industries, Polymer Laboratories manufactures resins for drug development and pharmaceutical process applications, and clinical diagnostic polymer particles.

PL International's 160 highly skilled technical staff based in the UK, USA, France, Germany and The Netherlands will remain with the company, which falls under the ownership of Varian following the completion of the deal. 

Since 3i first backed PL International, the firm has expanded its production to a new state of the art facility in Church Stretton, near Shrewsbury, has developed overseas subsidiary offices in the US, The Netherlands, Germany and France.

3i Investment Director David Bell commented "3i has been delighted to support PL International, working closely with its excellent management team to date.  Today's acquisition by Varian will allow the company to take its business to the next level backed by the strength of a Nasdaq listed parent, in this exciting growth market."

Advisors on the deal include Andrew Harris of Howes Percival and Mike Hinchliffe of Addleshaws. 

Notes to editors

About 3i
3i is a FTSE100 company and 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 in Asia.

Our competitive advantage comes from our international network and the strength and breadth of our relationships in business.  It underpins the value that we deliver to our portfolio and to our shareholders.  3i has bought into healthcare companies since the early 1980s and to date has conducted over 200 investments in this sector. www.3i.com

About PL International
PL International, established in 1976, develops, manufactures and markets instrumentation and consumables for advanced polymer analysis and high throughput screening in drug discovery.  The Company also develops and manufactures polymer particles in the fields of chromatography, clinical diagnostics, medicinal and combinatorial chemistry, with gram to metric tonne capability.  Worldwide distribution to its blue chip and new technology company customer base is via wholly owned subsidiaries and offices in the UK, USA, The Netherlands, Germany and France, and its extensive distributor network elsewhere.

In almost 30 years in business, PL International has continued to develop its technologies and remains an innovative, world leading company.

To date, PL International is a privately held company by Dr F P Warner (Chairman), Dr T G Croucher (Deputy Chairman & Operations Director) and 3i.

About Varian
Varian, Inc. is a leading worldwide supplier of scientific instruments and vacuum technologies for life science and industrial applications. The company provides complete solutions, including instruments, vacuum components, laboratory consumable supplies, software, training, and support through its global distribution system. Varian, Inc. employs approximately 3,700 people and operates manufacturing facilities in 13 locations in North America, Europe, and the Pacific Rim. Varian, Inc. had fiscal year 2005 sales of $773 million (excluding the divested Electronics Manufacturing business), and its common stock is traded on Nasdaq under the symbol, "VARI." Further information is available on the company's Web site: www.varianinc.com.