Baird Capital sees bid flurry as trade buyers flex muscles

BAIRD Capital Partners Europe, the mid-market buyout firm, has received bids on all but one of its 12 portfolio companies as trade buying activity increases.

The private equity firm, an arm of Milwaukee-based Baird Holding, said it had sold one investment and was looking to exit several more at attractive valuations. Last week it handed Paddock, a Midlands-based locks manufacturer, to Swedish group Assa Abloy for an undisclosed sum.

Baird Capital chief executive Simon Havers said many of the approaches were from trade buyers, suggesting corporates are taking advantage of the lull in buyout and flotation activity to make bolt-on acquisitions. “In other times we might have exited Paddock to a [rival] private equity firm,” he remarked.

Accounts just filed with Companies House show Baird Capital Partners Europe swung to the black last year, making a pre-tax loss of £120,000 on slightly increased revenues of £3.4m. A year earlier it made a profit of £250,000.

Robert W Baird, the boutique investment bank which is Baird Capital’s immediate parent, saw its revenues climb 14 per cent to £15.9m but pre-tax profits fell by almost half to £4.2m. In accounts, the firm’s directors said it was in a “satisfactory” position but said it was a cyclical business exposed to market conditions.

Havers said he was “very happy” with?Baird Capital’s performance despite the small loss. “The portfolio we have got in the current UK fund is in fantastic shape. There’s not a single company that has breached its [banking] covenants.”