Mid Europa buys Wheelabrator for CEE expansion

The Warsaw office of the London-based Central and Eastern Europe private equity firm has made the first investment from its recently closed Emerging Europe Convergence Fund II.

London-based Central and Eastern Europe buyout firm Mid Europa Partners has acquired US-headquartered surface preparation and finishing equipment specialist, Wheelabrator Group.
 
The sale provided an exit for a US private equity consortium led by Colorado and New York-based Bard Capital Group, which acquired Wheelabrator Group from US Filter Corporation in 2003. No financial terms were disclosed, but Bard Capital said in a release that the realisation provided a 3x multiple on its original investment.
 

The old owners were US funds, so they probably weren’t that familiar with this part of Europe, but it’s an ideal platform for us.

Zbigniew Rekusz, director, Mid Europa Partners

Zbigniew Rekusz, head of Mid Europa’s office in Poland, told PEO that the Wheelabrator acquisition was the firm’s first from its Emerging Europe Convergence Fund II, which closed on €650 million ($775 million) in January of this year.
 
Along with plans to move Wheelabrator’s Colorado headquarters to Altrincham, England, Rekusz said that the company will also focus on its “currently limited” operations in Poland.
 
Rekusz said that Wheelabrator’s Polish operations would provide a hub for expansion in Central and Eastern Europe. “The company has experienced significant growth in this particular part of Europe and further east, so it made sense for us to take an interest,” he said. “The old owners were US funds, so they probably weren’t that familiar with this part of Europe, but it’s an ideal platform for us.”
 

Rekusz: expanding Warsaw office in 2006

Mid Europa opened its Warsaw office last Summer, according to Rekusz, and currently houses two other investment professionals and an assistant. The firm is planning to recruit two further members of staff in 2006, added Rekusz. In addition to London and Warsaw, Mid Europa also has an office in Budapest.
 
Mid Europa made its last investment in Poland in December 2005, when it paid PLN1.6 billion (€425 million; $507 million) to re-acquire former portfolio company Aster City Cable, the media and communications business, from Lion Capital. Rekusz said that the firm expects to make two to four deals in Poland per year.