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OpenGate buys into inflatable boat inventor Zodiac, Carlyle exits

4 Sep 2012

OpenGate Capital has agreed to buy French inflatable boat inventor Zodiac Recreational from parent Zodiac Marine & Pool, a Carlyle Group portfolio company.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Zodiac said it was divesting Zodiac Recreational as part of an on-going strategy to refine and refocus on military, professional and clean water industries.

Carlyle first bought into Zodiac M&P in 2007.

Zodiac pioneered the first inflatable boat in the mid-1930s, and the brand was made popular in the 1950s by Jacques-Yves Cousteau, who used Zodiac tenders during his expeditions.

OpenGate founder, managing partner and CEO Andrew Nikou, OpenGate Capital’s founder, said, “We are extremely honoured to have the trust and faith of Zodiac M&P.

“The Zodiac family of brands is iconic in its representation of quality, safety and reliability.

“We couldn’t be more pleased to mark our first marine industry acquisition with Zodiac, the ultimate symbol of performance.”

OpenGate European partners Robert Lezec and Julien Lagrèze said they would work with the company’s existing management team to strengthen operational and financial fundamentals, as well as drive expansion across Europe and other markets.

Lezec said, “Zodiac’s rich brand heritage has been enhanced over the years through relentless innovation and a commitment to the highest standards of quality. We are confident that we will be able to continue raising the profile, visibility and geographical reach of these brands going forward.”

Lagrèze added, “The consistent progression of the Zodiac business is not only attributed to the modernization of its manufacturing and distribution processes, it is also due to a dedicated base of highly skilled employees.”

Zodiac Recreational employs 430 people throughout its main operations in France as well as facilities in Tunisia and the US.

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