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BC Partners makes clean sweep with Spotless purchase

17 Feb 2010

BC Partners has acquired French laundry and cleaning product manufacturer Spotless Group from the private equity arm of insurance group AXA. The deal value of the 65.6 per cent stake reportedly values the company at €600m and doubles AXA Private Equity’s investment.

Spotless Group was created following the acquisition of French laundry and home care products company Eau Ecarlate. AXA built the company up with six bolt-on acquisitions across Europe, including Guaber in Italy, Punch in Ireland, Citin in Holland, Eparcyl in France, Ballerina in Spain and Dylon in the UK. AXA reportedly first tried to sell off Spotless two years ago but pulled it off the market as a result of the financial crisis.

Several firms are said to be looking for private buyers for portfolio companies as a result of financial market uncertainty driven by instability in the eurozone, but critics of “pass-the-parcel” deals claim that the practice was a major factor behind the leveraged buy-out bubble. Secondary buy-outs are often financed with large amounts of bank debt, a practice which left investors with heavy losses in the wake of the downturn.

Other recent secondary buy-outs include the £975m (€1.12bn) sale of drug development company Marken by Intermediate Capital Group to Apax Partners, and KKR’s acquisition of Pets at Home from Bridegepoint for £955m (€1.1bn).

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