This content is from: Local Insights

Switzerland

In the largest ever leveraged buyout effected on the European continent, Doughty Hanson & Co Ltd acquired the Geberit Group. Doughty Hanson, acting as general partner of various limited partnerships, controls Geberit International SA which purchased the shares of the Group's parent company, Geberit Holding AG, from certain members of the Geberit family who had held all of the shares in Geberit Holding AG either directly or through four personal holding companies.

Doughty Hanson is one of the largest private equity fund managers operating in Northern Europe and has led the financing of major leveraged buyout transactions in northern Europe, including acquisitions of Bran & Luebbe GmbH, Tarkett International AG and Tag Heuer SA.

The Geberit Group, with headquarters in Jona, Switzerland, is a leading supplier in Europe of sanitary installation systems and plumbing products for the residential and commercial construction markets. Founded in 1874 by Caspar Melchior Gebert, it reported net sales of Swfr 905 million in 1996 and employed approximately 3,400 employees worldwide as of December 1996.

The gross consideration paid for the business amounted to approximately Swfr1.8 billion (US$1.24 billion), including about Swfr590 million for certain non-operating assets sold along with the Geberit Group and transaction costs.

In what was termed by the leading Swiss financial newspaper a possibly major breakthrough for the creation of a market in high-yield instruments of European companies, Geberit International SA will refinance a portion of the debt by issuance of 10.125% Senior Subordinated Notes in the DM-equivalent of Swfr135 million. Merrill Lynch Capital Markets Bank is acting as lead manager. The Notes will be offered in the US under Rule 144A and outside under Regulation S of the US Securities Act of 1933. Applications will be made to list the Notes on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and the Notes have been approved for trading in the Private Offerings, Resales and Trading through Automated Linkages (PORTAL) market.

Doughty Hanson & Co Limited aims for an initial public offering in Geberit International SA within the next three to five years.

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