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Phoenix Equity Partners sells Nationwide Autocentres to Halfords

18 Feb 2010

UK mid-market private equity firm Phoenix Equity Partners has sold Nationwide Autocentres to Halfords Group, Britain’s leading car parts and bicycles retailer, for £73m (€63.6m).

Nationwide is a provider of automotive mechanical repair, servicing and MOT tests across the UK. Operating from over 220 centres, Nationwide has over 600,000 customers and claims to be the UK’s leading MOT tester. Its biggest competitor is Kwik-Fit.

Phoenix acquired Nationwide in February 2006, following a direct approach made to the business 12 months earlier. The acquisition was made alongside a new management team recruited by Phoenix, in a management buy-in (MBI) deal.

As opposed to a management buy-out, where the existing management team acquires a company alongside a financial sponsor, MBI’s involve an external management team buying into a company. An MBI can be slightly riskier than a MBO because the new management will not be as familiar with the way the company works; however, they may be more adept at running the company than the incumbent team.

Between the buy-in and this year, revenues have grown by around 30 per cent and profitability by approximately 75 per cent.

Phoenix, which manages over £900m (€1bn) in capital commitments, last month sold Acorn Care & Education, a provider of education and care to vulnerable children.

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