In the wake of media reports on a possible deal, Refresco (AEX: RFRG) has announced its rejection of an unsolicited take-private offer from PAI Partners, which proposed to acquire the bottler of soft drinks and juices for €1.4 billion in cash. Refresco received the bid on April 6 but deemed the offer “did not merit any further investigation,” per a company statement.
PAI’s proposal (and Refresco’s ensuing rebuff) could prove part of a growing trend: Against a backdrop of elevated dry powder figures and continued healthy fundraising, private equity firms may be increasingly turning to take-private buyouts and corporate carveouts as big-ticket ways to invest their piles of unused capital.
After the quantity of global take-private deals declined ever year from 2012 to 2014, activity is back on the uptick, rising from 75 in 2014 to 82 in 2015 to 86 last year, according to the PitchBook Platform. And with a slate of other deals either announced or completed so far in 2017—with notable targets including Stada, Team Health and Apollo Education Group—this year could be on pace for another increase in public-to-private frequency.
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The quest for attractive targets can lead to PE investors paying a premium. While Refresco closed Wednesday trading with a market cap of some €1.37 billion, the company’s share price has risen more than 15% since reports of a possible takeover first emerged; it was worth nearly €200 million less on April 6. Stada shareholders reaped similar rewards from private equity interest in the European pharmaceutical provider, as the company’s stock rose more than 50% in the five months prior to its announced sale.
While the sample size is admittedly minuscule, Stada and Refresco could also portend another development: An increase in the share of take-private buyouts of European companies. Of the 15 such deals completed so far during 2017, 40% have occurred in Europe, a higher share than at any point since the financial crisis. Here’s a full look at the recent trend:
Want more info on the global PE activity in take-private buyouts, including some of the biggest deals and busiest investors? PitchBook subscribers can check it out right here.
Article by Kevin Dowd, PitchBook