French mega cap firm PAI Partners has notched up its first investment of the year, buying Marcolin, one of Italy's largest eyewear manufacturers.
PAI sourced the deal on a proprietary basis, paying private investors and its family owners €207m.
The firm has bought just over 78 per cent of eyewear maker and intends to fully delist the business in a €4.25 per share squeeze-out that is expected to close in November.
Marcolin's share price fell shortly after the deal was announced as the €4.25 bid came in lower than an anticipated €4.80 offer. The deal values the sunglasses maker at around 8x its forecasted 2012 Ebitda. In 2011, the business posted sales of €224.1m and Ebitda of €34.2m in 2011, up nine and 14 per cent respectively year-on-year.
Marcolin makes frames for sunglasses brands such as Just Cavalli, Tod's, Mont Blanc, Diesel, Swarovsky and Timberland and is the third largest company of its kind in Italy. It has a market capitalisation of €297m and very little debt.
The Marcolin family was the main shareholder alongside Diego Della Valle, which owns the Tod’s shoe brand. Both shareholders as well as Antonio Abete, another equity holder, will keep a 15 per cent stake in the company after the deal completes.
Consumer has long been one of PAI's areas of expertise, with the sale of Italian fashion retailer Gruppo Coin in May last year helping to turn the firm's fortunes around.
Its comeback followed the trigger of a key-man clause in August 2009 after two of its top executives – chief executive Dominique Mégret and Bertrand Meunier – decided to walk.
The shock departures and a series of failed investments caused dissent among LPs, and the private equity firm's flagship fund was halved to €2.7bn.
The Gruppo Coin exit to BC Partners was shortly preceded by the €1.6bn sale of half of French yoghurt giant Yoplait to US food group General Mills, helping to win back investors' confidence.
Lion Capital has also moved into Europe's eyewear sector after buying French retailer Alain Affelou from Bridgepoint for €800m last May.
Meanwhile, Advent International has just succeeded in taking German retailer Douglas Holding private and Carlyle is still pursuing UK listed defence business Chemring, as buyout houses eye up keenly priced stocks.