Advent to acquire Laird for £1bn


Financier Worldwide Magazine

May 2018 Issue

In a public-to-private acquisition with an approximate value of £1bn, global private equity firm Advent International Corporation is to buy UK electronics and technology business Laird PLC.

AI Ladder Limited (Bidco), a wholly-owned indirect subsidiary of funds managed by Advent, reached an agreement with Laird’s board of directors on the terms of a recommended cash acquisition for the entire issued ordinary share capital of Laird on a fully-diluted basis. The acquisition is to be effected by means of a scheme of arrangement under Part 26 of the Companies Act.

“Laird has delivered a very much improved performance in 2017, making significant progress following the issues that faced the business in 2016,” said Dr Martin Read, chairman of the board of Laird. “Laird’s directors are confident the acquisition recognises Laird’s prospects and future growth potential.”

Under the terms of the acquisition, Laird shareholders are entitled to receive 200 pence in cash for each Laird share held, an offer which represents an attractive 72.6 percent premium to the current share price and provides Laird shareholders with the certainty of realising value from their investment in the form of cash.

“Accordingly, Laird’s directors are unanimously recommending the offer,” continued Dr Read. “As a leading global private equity firm, Advent provides stability for Laird’s customers and other stakeholders. It has also stated its intentions to support Laird’s employees and invest in the business as it moves to the next stage of its development.”

A global technology company focused on providing components and solutions that protect electronic devices from electromagnetic interference and heat, Laird’s products are supplied to all sectors of the electronics industry and enable connectivity in mission-critical systems through wireless applications and antenna systems.

In April 2017, Laird completed a £185m rights issue that reduced borrowings and optimised the capital structure of the Laird Group to enable continued investments in future growth. The rights issue also allowed Laird to continue executing its operating model redesign, which is delivering $20m of cost savings. As part of its 2016 results, Laird announced a new three division structure, which better reflects the different focus required in each of the divisions to drive value.

Laird’s acquirer, Advent, is one of the largest and most experienced global private equity investors. Possessing a strong track record of investing in high quality global industrial and engineering companies, Advent has been involved in more than 330 buyout transactions in 40 countries and has €35bn in assets under management.

“Laird is a high quality business with significant engineering capabilities and an excellent reputation across its broad customer base,” said Shonnel Malani, a managing director at Advent. “Laird enjoys market leading positions in a number of fast-growing segments, and by leveraging our sector expertise we look forward to working with management to further enhance its industry leading position.”

The directors of Laird are being advised by Rothschild, J.P. Morgan Cazenove and Numis.

Expected to become effective in the third quarter of 2018, the acquisition is subject to further conditions and terms, including the receipt of relevant clearances from competition and regulatory authorities, particularly those in the US, the EU and China.

Tony Quinlan, chief executive of Laird, concluded: “Laird’s history goes back almost 200 years and the business has evolved over that time into the global engineering company of today. I believe for its next chapter, Laird will benefit from private hands as it further strengthens its business model and looks to the future.”

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Fraser Tennant

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