Advent's Williams Lea deal is approved

Jo Francis
Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The European Commission has approved Advent International’s takeover of Williams Lea Tag, while a high-profile executive’s name has been linked with a future senior role at the group.

Advent was confirmed as the purchaser of the Williams Lea Tag businesses in August, with the formalities expected to be completed during Q4.

The deal was subject to regulatory approval, and the European Commission has now given the buy the green light.

The Commission’s statement said: “The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of Williams Lea Tag GmbH of Germany, Williams Lea Holdings, Inc. of the US and Williams Lea Holdings Limited of the UK, together forming the Williams Lea business, by Advent International of the US.

“The Williams Lea business is active in the provision of marketing communications services and business document process outsourcing. Advent International is a private equity investment firm with portfolio companies active in various business sectors. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because the overlaps between the activities of the Williams Lea business and Advent International's portfolio companies are limited.”

The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

Separately, experienced private equity executive David Kassler has been tipped to become the new leader of the business under Advent.

His track record includes stints as chief executive at EMI Music, Phones 4U, and Deluxe Entertainment Services.

In his personal profile he describes himself as: “Advising on strategic and operational change pre- and post-acquisition for three major international private equity firms – including a global leader in B2B digital content, a leading global marketing services business and a buy-and-build in the European hospitality sector.”

He is also an investor and director at content and advertising app business DeviceMesh.

Advent International has declined to comment on any details regarding the Williams Lea Tag business until the takeover is completed, and PrintWeek could not reach Kassler for comment at the time of writing.

A team from Advent is understood to be combing through Williams Lea’s books ahead of completion. Extracting the operation from Deutsche Post DHL Group, which has owned Williams Lea since 2006, is likely to be a complex proceeding. The two companies have already said that they will work in partnership to ensure a smooth separation.

The 2016 accounts for the various Williams Lea limited companies registered in the UK, including Williams Lea Holdings, should have been filed by 30 September but are currently flagged at Companies House as overdue.

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