ECP closes Biffa deal; Warburg Pincus-backed IONOS preps IPO; Equistone sells Acuity stake to Permira

KKR has partnered with and invested in private credit fund Tosca Debt Capital.

Good morning Eurohubsters, Craig McGlashan here with the Dealflow.

We open with the completion of a big take-private deal in the UK by Energy Capital Partners, before looking at a move in the opposite direction by a company going public. Warburg Pincus has a minority holding in that firm. We also feature Permira buying a majority stake in an analytics firm from Equistone, a deal for an auction company in Finland, KKR partnering with a private debt company and finally the latest US private equity interest in a European football team.

Going private. Energy Capital Partners (ECP) has completed the take-private of Biffa, a UK waste management firm, in a £2.1 billion ($2.6 billion; €2.4 billion) deal.

Biffa, headquartered in Buckinghamshire, assists the waste management process from recycling, treatment and energy generation to collection, disposal, and surplus redistribution. The firm offers waste services to 100,000 UK business customers and two million households.

The Biffa board agreed the terms with ECP in September.

“We share the Biffa team’s vision to promote a more sustainable, circular economy, and are excited to partner with the company in its next phase of growth,” said Andrew Gilbert, partner at ECP, in a statement. “ECP and Biffa will remain focused on providing the highest levels of service to the company’s customers.”

You can read more on the financials of the deal here.

I’ll be speaking with ECP’s Gilbert later today so stay tuned to PE Hub Europe for a deep dive on the acquisition in the coming days.

Going public. Moving in the opposite direction is German web hosting firm IONOS Group, which has outlined pricing for an IPO. Private equity firm Warburg Pincus is a minority shareholder in the firm.

The firm has set a price range of €18.50 to €22.50 a share for its planned IPO on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.

Private equity firms are likely to be keenly interested in the outcome of the move. The European IPO market was quiet in 2022 – thanks in large part to turmoil in stock markets – so a successful IPO by IONOS could signal that one exit route for private equity firms has reopened.

Staying private. While IPOs have been thin on the ground, one exit strategy has been to sell to other private equity firms. That was a route taken by Equistone, which is selling its majority stake in Acuity Knowledge Partners to Permira.

Equistone will reinvest in Acuity as a minority shareholder.

Acuity is a provider of research, analytics, and business intelligence to the financial services sector. The firm is headquartered in London and has a global client base of more than 500 financial service firms. It has offices in the UK, USA, India, Sri Lanka, Costa Rica, China and Dubai.

The deal, subject to regulatory approvals, is likely to close in the second quarter of 2023.

Read more on the deal here.

Auction deal. Vaaka Partners is set to acquire a majority stake in Finnish digital auction platform has one million monthly visitors and half a million registered customers. The platform offers machinery, equipment, tools, cars, and other merchandise mainly advertised by private companies and public sector entities.

The platform was established in 2005 and is headquartered in Helsinki. It employs around 80 people and the total number of auctions in 2022 on the platform stood at 320,000.

Check out more on the deal here.

Partnering up. US private equity giant KKR has partnered with private credit fund Tosca Debt Capital and has also taken a stake in the Manchester, UK-headquartered firm.

KKR is investing via its asset-backed finance partners fund and other managed credit funds. It aims to provide TDC with capital to expand its sourcing of debt transactions with lower mid-market companies in the UK. The capital will focus on private equity-sponsored deals.

KKR is also buying a stake in TDC to help deliver an “ambitious” business plan to build a £3 billion ($3.7 billion; €3.4 billion) platform over the next five years, according to a statement.

“While economic conditions are challenging and debt availability is tightening, we are still seeing a strong flow of private equity deals,” said Gary Davison, founder and managing partner of TDC, in the statement. “We believe the new investment will place us in a great position to gain market share and show we are a committed funding partner for ambitious companies and private equity sponsors operating in the lower mid-market.”

Read more about the deal here.

And now, the sports. New York-headquartered private equity firm MSP Sports Capital is mulling an investment in Everton Football Club, according to a report by Bloomberg.

Everton are one of England’s most successful clubs historically but have not been champions since 1987 and this season are fighting relegation from the top-flight.

MSP is no stranger to European football, with several clubs already in its portfolio.

We’ve asked MSP for comment.

For more on private equity in football, check out our coverage of ALK’s ownership of Burnley FC, our deep dive into RedBird’s purchase of AC Milan and a round-up of some of the biggest football deals over the last year.

Aperitif. You should have had time to eat breakfast by now, so it’s safe to head over to our affiliate site PE Hub in the US to read Obey Martin Manayiti’s roundup of deals in the food sector.

Firms such as Brynwood Partners, Swander Pace and Trive Capital are on the menu in the article, which you can read here.

Editor’s note. Open access to PE Hub Europe will be ending soon – click here to learn how to subscribe so you don’t miss out on our coverage.

That’s it from me – I’ll be back with you tomorrow.