Home Private Equity LLCP to invest in vet trainer; Astorg closes secondaries deal

LLCP to invest in vet trainer; Astorg closes secondaries deal

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Private equity’s interest in the pet sector shows no signs of slowing down, with yet another deal to report this morning. This time it’s Levine Leichtman Capital Partners buying a stake in a veterinary training and education provider from RJD Partners.

We then look at a deal type that more and more private equity firms have been using in the face of difficult exit markets: single-asset continuation funds. Astorg has just closed such a fund to acquire testing and certification company Normec.

Finishing up, we look at another sector where private equity has found fertile hunting ground: cybersecurity. Clayton Dubilier & Rice and Permira have made an indication of interest in French cybersecurity company Exclusive Networks, a business that Permira only listed a few years ago. We’ve also got a brief update on Blackstone’s take-private of music catalogue Hipgnosis.

Training up

Levine Leichtman Capital Partners (LLCP) has agreed to invest in Improve International Group in partnership with its management team. RJD Partners is the seller.

Improve International is a veterinary postgraduate training and education provider. It uses training facilities and digital content to deliver courses in 20 countries and in nine different languages. Based in Swindon in the UK, it has over 170 employees, with offices in Germany, Spain, Portugal, the US and France.

“The management team has built a leading education business that is well positioned to service the growing needs of the veterinary industry globally,” said Josh Kaufman, partner and head of Europe at LLCP, in a statement. The firm will “help them scale the business through organic initiatives, including new course development and geographic expansion, as well as through strategic M&A”.

Other recent deals in the pet sector include Inflexion agreeing to exit Lintbells, the producer of supplements brand YuMOVE, to Gryphon Investors-backed Vetnique Labs and Cinven agreeing to exit Arcaplanet Group, an Italian omnichannel pet care retailer, to Fressnapf.

Irien Joseph also took a deep dive this week into what’s driving some of these pet sector deals.

Continuation

PE Hub’s Michael Schoeck wrote earlier this week about how oil and gas investors have been turning to single-asset continuation vehicles, and now we’ve got a similar deal in the testing and certification industry.

Astorg has announced the closing of the €1.4 billion Normec Continuation Fund, which it established to acquire Normec.

Normec is a pan-European independent testing, inspection, certification, and compliance company held in Astorg VII. Amsterdam-based Normec employs 5,000 staff across 35 locations, with over 70 completed acquisitions in six countries and operating in four divisions.

The fund was capitalised by lead investors CVC Secondary Partners, Pantheon, Lexington Partners and Eurazeo, alongside additional investors, including sovereign wealth funds, pension funds, asset managers, and family offices.

The transaction was oversubscribed and includes commitments from both existing Fund VII and new investors alongside equity contributions from the Normec leadership team and the Astorg deal team.

Exclusive interest

We’ve got yet another instance of a private equity portfolio company taken public just a few years ago being subject to a take-private move – a phenomenon we discussed at length in this deep dive from a little while back.

A consortium led by Clayton Dubilier & Rice and Permira has made a non-binding indication of interest in French cybersecurity company Exclusive Networks for €24 a share, valuing the total equity of the business at around €2.2 billion. The company’s share price had been trading below €22 but jumped to just shy of €24 on the news.

Permira already has a holding of 57.3 percent in the company via its Everest UK HoldCo entity. Permira bought a majority stake in the business in 2018, before launching an IPO in 2021 at €20 per share, giving Exclusive Networks a market capitalisation of around €1.8 billion.

Coda

Sticking with take-privates for a moment, Blackstone’s takeover of London-listed music catalogue Hipgnosis Songs Fund has won shareholder approval. Blackstone upped its offer to $1.31 per share last month.

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