Compass buys Italian fridge maker

The London-headquartered private equity firm has completed its eighth European transaction from a $1bn fund dedicated to the region.

Compass Partners, the private equity firm with offices in London and Frankfurt, has acquired 100 percent of Eco, an Italian refrigerator heat exchanger maker, for an undisclosed sum.

The secondary buyout was made from Italian private equity houses PM & Partners, BS Private Equity, Italian Private Equity Fund II, BNL Investire Impresa and current management. The consortium had owned Eco since 2001, when PM & Partners led the purchase of the company and acquired a 24.6 percent stake from its Emerald Fund. A follow-on investment was made in December 2002.

Financial details of the secondary buyout were not disclosed. However, BNL Investire Impresa sold its 13 percent stake in the company to Compass Partners for €22 million ($27 million), according to a Dow Jones report, implying an enterprise value of the business of approximately €170 million.

Eco produces heat exchangers for civil and industrial air conditioning and refrigeration units and in 2003 group sales amounted to €200 million. The company employs around 1550 people and has production facilities in Italy, Austria and Spain.

Compass Partners declined to comment on the transaction, citing the firm's policy not to issue comments to the press. The firm's website has a section titled “'private’ private equity” where the firm’s stated policy reads: “Compass does not publicise its transactions or take credit for the transactions.”

Compass Partners is currently investing from its $1 billion European Equity Fund (Bermuda) LP and has previously completed seven investments including the buyouts of Woods Air Movement from Marconi and Necta Vending, an Italian vending machine manufacturer from Electrolux.

Earlier this year, the firm lost operating partner Ken Hanna who left to join confectionery and beverages group Cadbury Schweppes as chief financial officer.

Compass was founded by Stephen Walters, former head of M&A at Morgan Stanley; John Clark, previously CEO of BET; and Paul Soldatos, a former partner at Investcorp.