City funds near £1bn deal for British Car Auctions

 
Michael Bow
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The auctioneer has diversified away from traditional auctions towards online sites such as webuyanycar.com
A City-backed investment vehicle is on the verge of driving away with Europe’s biggest second-hand car dealership BCA Marketplace in a £1bn takeover deal.

Listed investment fund Haversham, which is backed by City fund houses like Aviva, Schroders, Invesco and Artemis, is in advanced talks with the private equity owners of BCA to take a majority stake in the business.

A stock market announcement is expected this morning and shares in Haversham, which floated in November, are expected to be temporarily suspended in light of the takeover talks, City A.M. understands

If a deal is completed, BCA would effectively reverse into the listed entity Haversham, giving the car auction site a stock market presence and tradeable shares on the London stock exchange.

BCA, formerly British Car Auctions, is best known for owning online site Webuyanycar.com and has grown revenues by 74 per cent over the past three years.

Haversham is the brainchild of former Stobart Group chair Avril Palmer-Baunack, a well respected City operator who has won the backing of several large institutional investors.

Funds including Marwyn Value Investors helped Palmer-Baunack list the shell vehicle on the junior stock market last year, with a mandate to make acquisitions between £250m and £1bn.

The deal would also mark a remarkable finale to drawn-out sale of BCA, which is owned by Clayton, Dubilier and Rice (CD&R).

BCA was originally mooted for a stock market listing last June after appointing bankers from UBS and JP Morgan, but was pulled in October due to market volatility. Another motor group, the AA, listed on the market last year with the backing of City funds in an accelerated market float. CD&R is expected to maintain a minority stake in BCA.

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