HgCapital sells German toy-maker Schleich to Ardian


European private equity investor HgCapital has exited toy manufacturer Schleich with its sale to Paris-headquartered buyout peer Ardian.

The toy-maker, which makes plastic figures including dinosaurs, knights, farm animals and Smurfs, was acquired by HgCapital in 2006, when it had an enterprise value of about €165m. The buyout firm was previously reported to have shelved a sale last year.

The transaction has been done through Ardian’s € 2.4bn LBO Fund V, which the firm closed in October 2013.

The management of Schleich has acquired a “substantial” stake in the company as part of the acquisition, which is subject to antitrust approval, it said.

Founded in 1935, Schleich is one of Germany’s biggest toy manufacturers. Since HgCapital’s acquisition, sales have grown from € 61m to € 106m, with the number of employees increasing from approximately 190 to 340.

In 2013, Schleich achieved a seven per cent growth in sales while increasing its profitability compared with the previous year. Advance sales from the new product ranges in the first part of 2014 have already exceeded the high targets set by the management, validating Schleich’s new strategy, it said.

Justin von Simson, partner HgCapital, said, “For HgCapital, Schleich was a successful investment and it was a pleasure working together with the current management team to help develop Schleich’s international presence, distribution and logistics capability and its profitability. We identified a strong and experienced new leadership team for the company, jointly developed a new, robust strategy for the future and thus positioned the company for its next phase of growth. We are delighted to have found in Ardian the ideal future partner for Schleich.”

Caspar von Meibom, managing director at Ardian, added, “For me as a father, Schleich with its timeless toy figurines represents much more than just an investment in a company. With its new strategy of increasingly expanding into play worlds as well as further penetrating both international markets and new distribution channels, we see significant additional growth potential for the company.”

Copyright © 2014 AltAssets