Candover to launch a £500m sale

Kasmira Jefford
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CANDOVER Investment, the private equity firm which became a high-profile casualty of the credit crisis, has launched a £500m auction to sell off its biggest investment.

Investors managing the remains of Candover will partially unwind Expro International, the oil services group it bought in 2008 just months before failing.

Goldman Sachs, which invested with Candover on the Expro deal, has been hired to sell its £500m subsea power and connection systems division.

Candover was one of many private equity firms that fell victim to the economic crisis, as portfolio companies overloaded with debt struggled to meet repayments.

Once considered the gold-standard of private equity firms, Candover participated in deals such as the merger of Gala and Coral Eurobet to create Britain’s leading gaming firm. It subsequently made a 40 per cent loss on Gala Coral after creditors took control last year.

The firm decided to wind itself up in August last year after failing to sell the business, ending months of uncertainty over the future of the private equity house.

Its buyout team, led by John Arlney, spun out a new vehicle, Arle Capital, to manage its companies, leaving the listed investment company to gradually return cash to investors.

The spin-out firm led its first deal in May, helping engineering group Stork to buy oilfield services firm RBG from 3i.

It also emerged last night that Arle is poised to sell two of its largest portfolio companies, Capital Safety, the UK-based safety harness maker, and Qioptiq, a French optical component maker.