Candover to wind up as it eyes sell-off

 
Steve Dinneen
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PRIVATE equity stalwart Candover Investments will complete its spectacular fall from grace as it winds itself up to return cash to shareholders.

The once high-flying firm will now concentrate on offloading its portfolio as part of a “measured” plan that could take years to complete.

However, a spokesman told City A.M. there will be “absolutely no fire-sale”. She said: “There will be no fixed time-frame. The assets will be sold when we can maximise our return on them for our shareholders.

“This is not a decision to close the company, it is a decision not to make further investments going forward.”

Candover’s move to sell its portfolio of companies, which includes oil-field services firm Expro, and return cash to shareholders and investors follows a failed attempt to sell the business last month and ends months of uncertainty over its future.

Industry sources yesterday suggested Equity Trust may be one of the first of its portfolio companies to be sold, with Doughty Hanson believed to be interested in a £300m deal.

The firm was undone by a series of ill-judged acquisitions at the height of the boom. But when the market went sour, Candover saw the net value of its assets fall by half and was forced to allow investors a chance to cancel outstanding commitments to the fund.

Candover says there is still significant value in its portfolio. Expro, for example, accounts for almost one third of the firm’s valuation.

Now analysts say the firm is a good bet for investors, as returns to shareholders from the sale of companies is likely to be above the current share price.