Trilantic Europe to buy solar panel mounting biz

Exponent said to be in for pharma company.

The threat from climate change seems to become ever more present – several bodies including NASA found that 2023 was the warmest year on record, for example – but so does the fight against it, not least via the transition to renewable energy.

That opens up a range of opportunities for private equity firms, including in the products and services that support the technologies themselves.

We’ve got one such deal this morning, as Trilantic Europe announced a stake in just such a company.

Meanwhile, we look at reports that Exponent is vying to become the latest private equity firm to enter the veterinary pharma market, following EQT and its take-private of Dechra.

We then finish with some reflections on how a predicted spike in M&A activity could play out for private equity firms.

Mounting up

Trilantic Europe is set to acquire a 60 percent stake in Aerocompact Group, a company that produces and distributes substructures for mounting solar panels.

The Satteins, Austria-based company has around 150 employees worldwide, with subsidiaries in Germany, the US, India and Bulgaria.

Trilantic Europe will “accelerate growth even further and create a truly international champion in the solar mounting space, while also delivering on our investment sustainability commitments,” said Vittorio Pignatti-Morano, chairman of Trilantic Europe, in a statement.

Mathias Muther, Aerocompact’s founder, will retain a 40 percent stake through his private foundation.

Deal vetting

Exponent appears to be making good use of the Dublin office it opened late last year, with the private equity firm nearing a deal to buy Irish drugmaker Chanelle Pharma for more than €300 million, according to a report in the Sunday Times.

Chanelle started life in the veterinary pharma business but has grown to include human pharma in its offering. The Loughrea-headquartered company is present in over 90 countries and supplies 10 of the top 12 multinationals in the world, according to its website.

We got a ‘no comment’ when we approached Exponent about the story.

Vet pharma has been a sought-after sector for private equity. EQT completed a £4.88 billion ($6.20 billion; €5.73 billion) take-private of UK-based veterinary pharma company Dechra earlier this month, for instance.

M&A return

There was plenty of optimism coming from the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier in the month that M&A activity is set for a sharp increase this year with funds needing to sell assets to return cash to their LPs.

“We believe that this pressure could create both challenges and opportunities for our clients, depending on their portfolio composition, exit strategy, and risk appetite,” Ayman Shehata, associate in the corporate team of law firm Charles Russell Speechlys, told PE Hub Europe.

“Whilst this pressure could force some houses to sell their investments at lower valuations than they expected, it could also create attractive buying opportunities for those who have dry powder and are willing to invest in undervalued assets with strong growth potential. This opportunity is even greater as valuations become more modest reflecting the pressure to sell, higher financing costs and continued uncertain economic conditions.

“We are also likely to see more secondaries, with sales between private equity groups as a result of those funds that are coming under pressure to sell finding willing buyers in the funds who are sitting on significant amounts of dry powder to deploy.”

That tallies with some of the chatter coming out of IPEM Cannes last week.

Continuation funds, co-control and structured equity-type investments have been more common these days as GPs find a middle ground between debt and equity, according to Stephane Etroy, partner and head of European private equity at Ares Management.

Read more on that in this write-up.