3i sells stake in William Wilson to Wolseley in £81m deal

01 Nov 2005

3i, Europe's leading private equity company, has sold its minority stake in William Wilson, one of the UK's leading independent suppliers of electrical, plumbing, heating and building products, to Wolseley plc, the global leader in heating and plumbing supplies and a leading supplier of building materials, in an £81m deal. 

3i's proceeds of £22m represent a money multiple of 20 times its original investment cost and an IRR of 17%. 

Judy Mackie, 3i Portfolio Manager, commented: "Since we invested in William Wilson, the company has grown strongly to become one of the leading players in the industry.  The building products industry is rapidly consolidating around a small number of large players and we believe this acquisition offers a great opportunity for both William Wilson and Wolseley."  

William Wilson was established in Aberdeen in 1900 and has branches in most major towns and cities in Scotland and the North of England. The company, which has a turnover of £105 million and employs 600 staff, announced record profits for the year ended March 2005.  Current chairman Graeme Wilson, and his brother Sandy Wilson, are retiring but their sons Michael and Colin will remain with the existing management team, headed up by joint managing directors Bob Bisset and Robert Skidmore, to drive the business forward.

Graeme Wilson, chairman of William Wilson added: "3i has been a valued investor and a supportive partner and we are pleased to have delivered an excellent return for them.  We look forward to accelerating our development with Wolseley's support." 

PricewaterhouseCoopers were lead advisors in the transaction and originated the deal with Wolseley after considering a range of options.

David Leslie, Head of CF for PwC in Scotland led the team and said: "William Wilson is an excellent example of a Scottish private company which has expanded and grown profitably into a national business.  It has a proud history as a successful family business and this transaction marks the next chapter in its development.  The combination with Wolseley offers a new platform and resources to expand, and also preserves the brand and market positioning of the company."

Other advisors on the deal were Maclay Murray & Spens (John Harding Edgar) and Dickson Minto (Roddy Bruce).

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 Asia.

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.  www.3i.com 

3i Growth Capital 
3i's Growth Capital business focuses on investing minority stakes in high growth companies expanding organically or through acquisition.  The business currently manages 300 investments across Europe and Asia with a value in excess of €1.8bn and invests across a broad range of industry sectors, including healthcare, financial services, food & drink, media, IT services, support services and oil & gas. 

Recent investments include Nimbus, India, €36m; Boxer, Sweden, €84m; Clinica Baviera, Spain, €40m; Williams Lea, UK, €68m; Renta Corporation, Spain, €20m; Novem CID, Germany, €25m; Vetoquinol, France, €20m and PEARL, Singapore, €8m.  Recent exits include Cannon Avent, UK, €450m; Pets at Home, UK, €330m; Wood Group, UK, €37m; Ascent Technology, UK, €34m; Raynal, France, €0.5m and Highland Energy, Germany, €178m.