BC agrees bakery biz sale

Listings back? Good news for Bain on SoftwareOne pursuit.

We’re kicking off with exits today, as BC Partners agrees to sell a frozen bakery company to a consortium backed by Investindustrial and the Bagnoli family.

Next we look at signs that public listings are returning as an exit route for private equity firms, with EQT reported to be looking at an IPO for a portfolio company and Triton Partners launching a private placement of shares in one of its businesses.

Switching to take-privates, and Bain Capital’s interest in Swiss tech company SoftwareOne could be revived after a group of founding shareholders called for the election of a new board, while Apax Partners wrapped up its acquisition of WGSN from listed data and tech company Ascential.

Baked deal

BC Partners has agreed to sell Forno d’Asolo Group (FdA), a global manufacturer and distributor of frozen bakery products, to a consortium backed by Investindustrial and the Bagnoli family.

The deal values FdA at about €1.1 billion, according to a source familiar with the matter.

FdA Group is based in Treviso, Italy. It generated around €500 million of sales and over €85 million of EBITDA in 2023.

BC Partners invested in FdA Group in 2018. Within two years of the initial investment, BC finalised four strategic add-on acquisitions, all bilaterally sourced from local Italian entrepreneurs, including the acquisition of Bindi. FdA Group has almost quadrupled in size since BC’s original investment.

During the ownership, the firm oversaw growth initiatives such as unlocking commercial and operational enhancements, completion of FdA Group’s product offering, diversification of sales channels and expansion into new international markets such as the US, Germany and France, according to a release.

“FdA Group is a perfect example of the investments BC Partners looks for in the consumer space, thanks to the staple nature of its products, the deep loyalty of its customers, its market position and its unique distribution platform,” said Marco Castelli, head of consumer at BC Partners. “The group enjoys tremendous consolidation potential in some of the largest frozen bakery markets globally and we are confident of its continued success.”

Bagnoli family-owned Sammontana, an Italian gelato company, and Investindustrial-managed Frozen Investments will combine Sammontana with FdA Group to create an international manufacturer of frozen pastries, desserts and gelato.

The Bagnoli family, Investindustrial and the management team will own 100 percent of the new group. The combined group will have almost €1 billion in revenues with production facilities across Italy, the US and France, and over 2,500 employees.

IPOs back?

Private equity firms looking to sell assets faced a lacklustre IPO market last year, but there are signs that the listing exit route is opening again.

EQT is drawing up plans for a Swiss IPO of dermatology company Galderma that might come in the first half of 2024, according to the Financial Times, citing people familiar with the matter.

EQT declined to comment on the report when approached by PE Hub Europe.

Meanwhile, Triton Partners this morning launched a private placement of up to 30 million Renk Group shares at €15 each, with bookbuilding to take place today and tomorrow before listing on Wednesday.

Triton will still hold a majority position in Renk, a German manufacturer of drive products such as gear units and suspension systems for military and civil end markets, after the sale.

Finally, though there’s no private equity involvement, the IPO of a 30 percent stake in Athens International Airport looks to have gone well, with the listing attracting sufficient demand last week to be priced at the top of its €7-€8.20 per share offer range.

Going private

Looking the other way now to take-privates, and private equity’s interest in Swiss tech company SoftwareOne could be renewed after a group of founding shareholders who hold about 29 percent of the business requested an extraordinary general meeting to elect a new board.

The shareholders “fundamentally disagree” with the board’s recent conclusion of its strategic review, and believe that a recent non-binding offer for a take-private deal should have been presented to shareholders.

The board rejected the SFr18.80 per share move from Bain Capital in January. It valued the total equity at around SFr2.98 billion ($3.43 billion; €3.19 billion).

Bain declined to comment when approached by PE Hub Europe.

Wrapped up

Meanwhile, Apax Partners has completed the acquisition of WGSN, the product design business of listed UK data and tech company Ascential.

Apax had made an offer to buy WGSN that valued the business at an enterprise value of up to £700 million in October.