Carlyle aims for £350m from Britax

PRIVATE equity firm Carlyle Group has appointed investment bank NM Rothschild to sell Britax, the maker of child car seats, for up to £350m.

Carlyle is understood to have put the business on the block after receiving interest from rival private equity firms and trade buyers. A sale at its target price would net Carlyle’s dealmakers a profit of £120m.

Britax has grown rapidly since it was taken over by the US buyout house for £230m five years ago. Sales of brands including Romer and Safe n Sound expanded by 52 per cent to £183m between 2004 and 2008, boosted in part by tighter regulations on in-car safety for minors in developing countries.

Based in Chertsey, Surrey, Britax began life making automotive safety equipment in 1983 before narrowing its focus on childcare safety goods in the 1970s. It has manufacturing bases in North America, Australia and Germany as well as the UK. Britax employs 1,000 people globally and commands a 40 per cent market share in the UK and Germany.

The company’s management, led by Karl Kahofer, will be in for a windfall of tens of millions of pounds should a transaction take place. Bosses have a 15 per cent stake.

Carlyle has carried out a number of deals this year, selling Multiplan in the US, teaming up with TPG to buy Australia’s Healthscope and taking a stake in Brazil’s Grupo Qualicorp.