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Bridgepoint in the News

15 October 2010

Histoire d’Or and Marc Orian acquisition

Bridgepoint completes simultaneous acquisition and merger of Histoire d’Or and Marc Orian.

Bridgepoint has completed the simultaneous acquisition of the two leading jewellery retailers in France, Histoire d'Or and Marc Orian, in a transaction totalling over €600 million to create the undisputed leader in the French jewellery market and to provide a platform for European consolidation of the segment.

With a network of over 500 outlets, principally in shopping centres across France, and including 20 stores in Italy, Belgium and Portugal, the Histoire d'Or/Marc Orian group will have 2,700 employees and combined revenues of €350 million. The merger is expected to deliver significant synergies and operational benefits, notably in gross margin improvement, improved cost structures and inventory management.

Bridgepoint identified the industrial logic for the merger and initiated exclusive dialogue with the vendors of both companies (Silverfleet Capital and Qualium respectively) outside a formal sale process. The management team of Histoire d'Or, headed by Eric Belmonte, will lead the new entity. Bridgepoint will be the majority shareholder in the group with Apax Partners (a former investor in Histoire d'Or) and Qualium co-investing in minority positions.

Eric Belmonte said: "By combining Histoire d'Or and Marc Orian we will create a national champion that is capable of developing internationally and modernising what has been a conservative sector. These are two complementary brands with strong management teams."

Bridgepoint believes that the well-regarded management team is capable of creating the first pan-European retail brand in this segment.

"Eric Belmonte leads a highly entrepreneurial team with the vision and operational excellence to exploit the combined strengths of the two businesses and will be able to leverage Bridgepoint's European network to expand the group," said Benoit Bassi, partner responsible for Bridgepoint's operations in France.

Histoire d'Or, founded in 1981, is the No 1 jewellery retailer in shopping centres, operating in the generalist affordable precious jewellery segment of the market where average ticket prices are below €300 but represent over 50% of the market in France. Marc Orian, originally a spin off from Histoire d'Or in 1986 and the No 2 player in France, has a mid-market positioning through three different store formats. The segment in which both companies operate has been growing since 2003 by 4.6% p.a., faster than the rest of the market.

Advisers involved in this transaction on behalf of Bridgepoint included:

Rothschild & Cie, Société Générale CIB (corporate finance) ; Société Générale CIB, Natixis, Crédit Agricole CIB, Lloyds (debt) ; LEK Consulting, Bain & Co (strategy) ; Frieh & Associés, Debevoise, Ayache Salama et Associés, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton (legal) ; KPMG (accounting) ; Ernst & Young (tax) ; Marsh (insurance).

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