Catalyst Corporate Finance has advised German heating group Vaillant on the cross-border sale of its UK ladders business.
Vaillant sold Abru, which supplies access equipment like stepladders and platforms to the UK DIY and home improvement market, to Pennsylvania-based ladder manufacturer Werner Co for an undisclosed sum.
Abru has a manufacturing and distribution base in Belper, Derbyshire and supplies products to wholesalers and retailers including B&Q, Homebase, Argos and Wilkinsons.
Werner Co is a private equity-backed US business with a $600 million turnover, manufacturing and distributing fibreglass, aluminium and wood climbing products.
The acquisition of Abru will provide a UK and European base to continue Werner’s global growth.
Catalyst said Vaillant had previously identified Abru as a non-core asset and made a number of attempts to sell it since it acquired Abru as part of another deal in 2000.
But it had not been able to achieve a suitable price and asked the firm to get a deal done.
On appointment, Catalyst identified a number of new buyers, largely drawn from overseas markets. However, the effect of the credit crunch on trading, and the wider materials market in the UK, resulted in the process being delayed.
Catalyst Corporate Finance partner Keith Pickering led the deal to completion along with Leigh Daveran.
He said: “Initial offers for the business were made in late 2008, however, when the outlook for the business became more uncertain due to the downturn in market conditions we advised that the two preferred buyers should be stood down to allow management to focus on dealing with the operational issues of the business.”
When the business was subsequently re-presented to buyers, Catalyst negotiated a deal with Werner at a price that was acceptable to Vaillant.
This approach meant that Vaillant was able to quickly re-engage with Werner in late 2009 and deliver a deal, securing a result that Vaillant had been trying in vain to achieve for over nine years.
Andrew Michelman, M&A consultant to Vaillant, commented: “After a thorough analysis of the potential global buyer pool, Catalyst engaged with a few carefully selected buyers and, against the background of an extremely difficult trading environment, brought the best suitor through a process to deliver a successful result.”
Abru was founded in 1968 and sells a selection of access equipment such as stepladders, work platforms and loft ladders under brands such as Promaster, Blue Seal and Arrow DIY.
Vaillant’s history stretches back to 1874 when it was established in Germany. Since then it has become a leading player in the boiler and heating market, pioneering the first combi boilers 35 years ago.