A-Katsastus, a leading Northern European vehicle inspection company based in Finland, has been acquired by Bridgepoint from MB Funds, Tapiola, Finnish Industry Investment Ltd and Varma Mutual Pension Fund for an undisclosed sum. The business was state-owned until 2003 when it was acquired by MB Funds, the other financial investors and management.
In addition to its principal business of providing vehicle inspections and certifications that are required by law in Finland for all light and heavy motor vehicles over three years of age, A-Katsastus is also licensed to offer statutory drivers' examinations and is the market leader in Finnish vehicle registrations. The company provides its inspection services to customers completely independently of any vehicle repair businesses. In the year to 31 December 2004, it had sales of €81.3 million and now employs over 1,400 people.
From its base in Finland, the company has also established a strong platform for international growth via operations in the recently deregulated Danish market and in Latvia, Poland and Russia.
Lasse Korppi, CEO of A-Katsastus, said: "We believe that there are significant opportunities to extend our services in our home market in Finland and continue to increase our international presence outside Finland, particularly through regional expansion in Europe. Bridgepoint, as our new institutional investor, with its experience of roll out strategies for growing companies will help us achieve this objective."
Graham Oldroyd, a partner at Bridgepoint, added: " A-Katsastus is a well run business with a strong, scaleable domestic platform from which it can develop as the emerging Northern European vehicle inspection group as other countries open up to competition and as both the breadth of testing requirements and compliance rates increase across Europe. It will also introduce new activities that are complementary to its core inspection business. We expect that the company will become a regional consolidator, developing both organically and by acquisition."
Bridgepoint also believes that a combination of environmental and safety pressures will drive the trend of increasing breadth of test requirements and therefore accelerate market growth.
Advisers involved in this transaction included: for Bridgepoint - Aventum Partners (corporate finance), Ernst & Young (tax and financial), Castren & Snellman (legal), Bech Bruun (legal), Booz Allen Hamilton (commercial due diligence), Travers Smith (legal) and Loyens Loeff (legal); for the vendor - Alfred Berg ABN AMRO (Corporate Finance), Roschier Holmberg (legal) and PWC (vendor due diligence).
Debt was provided by Royal Bank of Scotland and Sampo Bank.
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