Air conditioning pioneer Volution Holdings airs out plans for listing

Michael Bow
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The British manufacturing firm that installed extractor fans for Sir Winston Churchill during the Second World War is heading to the London stock market after unveiling plans for a £300m listing.

Volution Holdings, which owns Vent-Axia – the engineering firm famed for supplying ventilation to 10 Downing Street during the war – will raise £72m from investors in the issue.

Volution said it would also use the cash to pay off existing debt and settle fees and expenses related to the stock market flotation.

The rest will be kept for spending on the company, which is led by manufacturing veteran Ronnie George.

Private equity backers TowerBrook Capital Partners, the former owner of shoe-maker Jimmy Choo, will also offload part of its stake in the offering.

Volution, which is set to join the FTSE 350 upon listing, has a presence across Europe and Asia, with three companies in the UK, one in Germany, and two in Scandinavia.

The mini-conglomerate was created in 2002 by HSBC’s private equity division – now known as Montagu Private Equity – after it carved out the building products division of FTSE-listed Smiths Group.

Alongside its wartime endeavours, Vent-Axia can also claim credit for inventing the extractor fan. Its founder, Joe Akester, started the firm in 1936 in Putney, west London, after pioneering the electric window fan.

The group recorded £128m of revenues for the year ending July and adjusted earnings of £28.9m.

It has had more recent prime ministeral contact after a visit by David Cameron earlier this year designed to highlight the growth of British manufacturing firms bringing jobs back from China.

Vent-Axia brought production lines back from China in January in 2013 and launched three production hubs in Crawley, West Sussex.

Management says it will pay about 30 per cent of the company’s adjusted net income for each financial year out as a dividend to investors.


1 Christie is a 20-year banking veteran and currently managing director at Canaccord, heading the industrials team.

2 He previously worked on the Polypipe IPO, as well as the sale of Hamworthy to Wartsila and Converteam to GE. Volution is the sixth deal where Canaccord has acted as bookrunner.

3 Before joining Canaccord in 2011, Christie was a senior managing director at UBS working in New York and London. Christie is Scottish – and is hoping Scotland remains part of the union.

Also advising...

Canaccord Genuity sponsor and joint bookrunner, with Piers Coombs, Peter Stewart and Chris Connors also on the deal. Joint bookrunner is Liberum, with Peter Tracey, Neil Patel, Richard Bootle and Thomas Bective working on the listing. Brunswick is PR adviser.

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