UK childcare manufacturer bought for £230m (€339m)

Car safety seats-to-pushchairs firm Britax Childcare broke free from its parent company today after being sold in a deal worth £230m (€339m).

Car safety seats-to-pushchairs firm Britax Childcare broke free from its parent company today after being sold in a deal worth £230m (€339m).

The UK-based business, which was one of three divisions at Britax International, has been acquired by The Carlyle Group following an auction that attracted strong interest from a number of other private equity groups.

US-based Carlyle said it would work closely with the present management team at a company that accounts for around 40% of the German and UK markets as well as 60% in Australia and 13% in the United States.

With brands including Romer and Safe n Sound, Britax Childcare generated revenues of £120m (€177m) in 2004.

It was put on the market earlier this year by Britax International, which is backed by the equity finance arm of Royal Bank of Scotland following a delisting from the London Stock Exchange in 2001. Britax also operates an aircraft interiors division and a public safety arm.

Britax International chairman Alan Bowkett said it would use the proceeds of the sale to reduce debt and develop other parts of its business.

He added: “The childcare division has been an excellent business for us and has developed strongly over the last few years.”

Britax Childcare employs around 900 people at operations worldwide, including around 200 people in the UK.

Andrew Stafford, head of Britax Childcare, said he was confident of “significant growth” under Carlyle.

He added: “We have been enormously impressed by their energy and professionalism, together with the enthusiasm they have shown for our vision for the future of the business.”

Today’s deal price is at the top end of expectations after a report in July said ABN Amro Capital, Montagu, PPM and 3i were all understood to have made first-round bids, with the offers worth between £200m (€295m) and £230m (€339m).

As well as its strong market position, Britax is helped by high barriers to new entrants as the market is governed by tough regulatory standards.

In recent months, baby care products firm Avent has been sold for about £300m (€442m) to Charterhouse while Toys R Us was sold to private equity bidders for almost £4bn (€5.9bn).

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