3i sells stake in JP Corry Group to Saint-Gobain Building Distribution

13 Jun 2006

3i, Europe's leading private equity company, today announces it has sold its minority stake in Belfast-based JP Corry Group, one of the largest independent builders' merchants in the British Isles, to Saint-Gobain Building Distribution. 3i originally invested in JP Corry in 1996 and further supported the acquisition of Coens in the Republic of Ireland.  Following the sale, 3i will generate a 43% IRR.

Karl Cockwill, 3i portfolio manager, commented: "3i backed a talented and ambitious management team at JP Corry.  The company has grown strongly to become one of the leading independent builders' merchants in the British Isles. This transaction allows 3i to realise significant value created during the life of our investment, whilst allowing JP Corry to become part of an international organisation with extensive synergy opportunities."

Ansley Tolland, JP Corry Group Chief Executive, commented: "3i has been a very supportive partner and has used its extensive network to enable us to explore new business opportunities. The building products industry is rapidly consolidating around a small number of very large players and we are looking forward to the many exciting market opportunities that we will encounter under Saint-Gobain's ownership."

Peter Hindle, Chief Executive Saint-Gobain Building Distribution for UK, Ireland and USA commented: "We are delighted with the acquisition of the JP Corry Group and wish to welcome all its employees to Saint-Gobain Building Distribution.  This acquisition will give Saint-Gobain a significant presence throughout Ireland and a strong trading base in the roof truss sector in England.  Our plan for the JP Corry Group will include investment in the growth and development of every part of the business."

David Leslie, CF Partner, PwC, said: "This deal is the culmination of a tremendous story.  From the initial buy-in by Ansley 10 years ago, the business has expanded from a few branches to be one of Ireland's main builders' merchants.  It has been a pleasure to be the lead financial adviser to JP Corry and I believe that this marks the next chapter in the history of a famous Irish brand. "

JP Corry is the largest builders' merchant in Northern Ireland with 14 branches; has a significant presence in the Republic of Ireland with 5 branches providing cover across central Ireland; and operates from 3 sites in England through RK Timber, a top 5 manufacturer of roof trusses. 

The sale of JP Corry follows 3i's recent £21m investment in MKM, the fifth largest independent builders' merchant in the UK, and the sale of both Encon and William Wilson late last year to Wolseley plc.

Saint-Gobain Building Distribution, which is a subsidiary of Saint-Gobain Group, is the leading European distributor of buildings materials. It operates its merchanting activities in the UK under the names of Jewson, Graham and other specialist sister brands.  Saint-Gobain Group is a producer, processor and distributor of building materials such as glass, plasterboard, ceramics, plastics, cast iron, etc.  It operates in more than 50 countries worldwide, is one of the world's hundred leading industrial corporations and fields a workforce of over 200,000.

Karl Cockwill led the exit for 3i.  Corporate finance advice was led by David Leslie of PwC with support from Stuart Warriner.  Roddy Bruce of Dickson Minto provided legal advice to the Shareholders.  Saint-Gobain Building Distribution was advised by Ian Greenfield of Hammonds.

Notes to editors

About 3i 
3i is a 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 Pacific. 

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.

About JP Corry   
JP Corry is one of the largest remaining independent builders' merchants in the UK with 14 branches in Northern Ireland, 5 branches in the Republic of Ireland under the Coens and D Kantor brands and a roof truss manufacturing business operating from 3 sites in England under the RK Timber brand.

About Saint-Gobain Building Distribution
Saint-Gobain's Building Distribution Sector reported 2005 sales of €15.4 billion.  It currently has more than 62,000 employees and a network of over 3,600 sales outlets located in more than 20 countries.  It is the leading distributor of building materials in Europe and its main brands are Point.P, Jewson and Graham, Raab Karcher, Dahl, Lapeyre la maison and La Plateforme du Bâtiment.

About PwC
PwC's corporate finance team in the UK is one of the leading advisors in the mid market specialising in deals between 50 and 500m dollars, with a national presence and sector focus.  This deal follows a range of successful deals in this sector including the recent sale of William Wilson to Wolseley also led by David Leslie.