Terra Firma sells Threshers after seven years

UK buyout firm Terra Firma has sold Thresher Group to a consortium led by Duke Street Capital founder Eddie Truell. Sources insisted the firm has made a profit on the deal, despite reports that it had been forced to sell the group at a loss.

Terra Firma, the UK buyout firm led by Guy Hands, has sold off licence group Thresher to a consortium led by Duke Street Capital founder Eddie Truell.

The make-up of the consortium has not been disclosed, but a source said the other members included various financial institutions.

Terms have not been revealed, but the sale price was well below the £225 million ($445 million, €331 million) Terra Firma paid for the company seven years ago, according to the UK newspaper Daily Telegraph

The sale has led some analysts to speculate that Terra Firma may have made a loss on its investment in the business, which it has owned since 2000. However, a source close to the firm said it did make a profit, despite reports to the contrary.
Terra Firma recouped some of its initial investment in recent months with a sale and leaseback of the company’s property portfolio. This generated £200 million for the buyout firm, according to the Telegraph.
Truell, the founder of Duke Street Capital, will be well-acquainted with the Thresher Group, having hired its former chief executive David Williams as an operating partner in 2004.

However, last month he sold most of his 30 percent stake in Duke Street to concentrate on his latest project the Pension Insurance Corporation, which invests in pension fund assets. A source close to the deal said the firm was not part of the buying consortium.

Hands bought The Thresher Group from leisure groups Whitbread and Punch in 2000, when he was running Japanese bank Nomura’s principal finance division. Terra Firma acquired the company when it span out of Nomura. The group owns various UK off licences including the Threshers and Wine Rack brands.

Truell’s consortium has also bought three more assets from Terra Firma: Brighthouse, a TV furniture lender, Quadriga, which makes TV systems for hotels, and television maker Thorn, according to the source. Truell is thought to be particularly interested in Thorn’s pension fund assets.

A spokesperson for Truell declined to comment.