Bezier sold in private equity-backed MBO

By Adam Hooker, Monday 22 August 2011

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Bezier has been sold in a management buyout backed by HIG Europe, the European arm of private equity firm HIG Capital.

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The deal will see David Mitchell, who returned to the industry as Bezier chairman in 2009, step down.

Bezier will continue to be led by chief executive Trevor O'Reilly.

The buyout also sees non-trading shell holding company Bezier Acquisitions, which Mitchell said had no creditors, placed into administration with Deloitte.

Previously Bezier had £120m of debt on its balance sheet, but Mitchell said that this had now been "significantly reduced", although he could not confirm the exact figure, through a consensual arrangement with the company's bankers.

He added: "The reason this move is good news is because, unlike many other deals in the industry, suppliers will not be impacted. No supplier will be left behind.

"When we came in it was a very disparate business, there were lots of different companies. There is now more cohesion, it is far more integrated and I would say it has as strong a balance sheet as anyone in the sector."

As well as securing its balance sheet, HIG, which was advised by Moorgate Capital, has also made funds available for Bezier, which chief financial officer Richard Barfield said would be used to pursue acquisitions, as well as make further investments.

O’Reilly said: "Until today the company has been carrying too much debt, but now with such a strong balance sheet and a financial backer with the firepower of HIG Europe we will be able to reach our full potential.

"The market is changing and we are building a business model that allows Bezier to lead the way in taking advantage of new opportunities. It’s been challenging to do this with the legacy of debt within the business but that constraint to growth has now been removed."

Mitchell added: "I don’t know what I will do next. I like doing this, I have been in print since I was a boy and hopefully I will have the opportunity to continue, but it would have to be the right one."

See also: 

Bezier undergoes revamp as it eyes '£12bn' retail opportunity

Bezier launches £1.5m cloud service to group IT platforms

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