Recently-launched private equity house bd-capital picks probiotics pioneer Symprove for debut deal

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Newly-launched private equity house bd-capital has sealed its first investment by backing Symprove, a startup attempting to disrupt the £35bn probiotics market.

Symprove was launched in 2010 by Barry Smith on his UK farm, after he discovered that his innovative probiotic formula could not only make the animals on his farm live disease-free lives without the need for antibiotics, but could also work on humans.

The company’s daily-use, subscription product, sold primarily through its direct-to-consumer website, is growing at more than 50% year-on-year, the company says.

Richard Baker, managing partner and co-founder of bd-capital, and the former CEO of Alliance Boots, said, “It is clear to us from our interactions with Barry and the Symprove team, our own diligence, and review of both the scientific materials and customer feedback, that Symprove not only has the opportunity for significant future growth, but the potential to change the lives of millions of people living with conditions and symptoms that, today, have very limited treatment options.

“We are inspired by the level of responsibility, and the scale of the task, that being investors in Symprove will bring.

“We share Barry’s vision for Symprove of becoming the world’s leading probiotic supplement, bringing scientific rigour and well-evidenced outcomes to an industry that has often overpromised and underdelivered.”

Bd-capital was launched last summer by former Advent International partner Andy Dawson and ex-Whitbread and FTSE chairman Baker. It is currently eyeing up to €400m for its debut fundraise.

The firm says it is targeting pan-European mid-market businesses where changing patterns of consumer behaviour and technology disruption are creating growth opportunities.

Earlier this year KKR’s former Spain head joined bd-capital as partner and head of its southern Europe investment activity.

Alejo Vidal-Quadras de Caralt joined KKR in 2014, and was responsible for developing and supporting KKR’s investment platforms in Spain across private equity, credit, infrastructure and real estate.

He previously spent nine years as head of Iberia for private equity house 3i.

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