US investment firm Ares Management bids for Farrow & Ball in £300m deal

Ollie Gordon
Farrow & Ball was started in the 1930s by two Dorset chemists
Ares Management, a Los Angeles-based alternative asset manager, is in negotiations to buy the British paint manufacturer Farrow & Ball in a deal worth up to £300m, it was revealed yesterday.

The US investment firm – owner of upmarket American department store Neiman Marcus – is thought to have bid between £250m and £300m for the Dorset-based paint maker, with a deal possibly to be completed in the coming days.

If it gets across the line, the deal would mark a sizeable to return for Farrow & Ball’s current owner, the London-based private equity firm European Capital.

European Capital shelled out around £80m for the paint producer in a management buyout from the family owners in 2006.

The private equity firm now looks set to at least triple that investment with the company’s sale. European Capital employed advisers from NM Rothschild earlier in the year to find a buyer for the company. It is understood that a number of the world’s largest private equity outfits were involved in the subsequent auction, including the Carlyle Group, TPG and Bain Capital, with London’s 3i and Bahrain’s Investcorp also having considered bids.

Both Ares Management and Euro­pean Capital declined to comment when contacted by City A.M..

The bid from Ares follows on from the firm’s $110m (£63.5m) acquisition of British housebuilder London Square in July this year.

Farrow & Ball was founded by former chemists John Farrow and Richard Maurice Ball in the 1930s in Wimborne, Dorset. The company now has 51 showrooms spread across the UK, Europe and the United States.

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