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£1 paid for CompAir delivers a £200m payback

26 July, 2008

The US-based compressor and pump manufacturer Gardner Denver is buying the British compressor-maker CompAir for £197.5m from the private equity group Alchemy Partners, which bought the bulk (68%) of the business from Invensys for £1 in 2002. The deal also entails Gardner Denver buying Invensysí remaining 18% stake in CompAir for around £25m, as well as the 14% stake held by CompAirís chief executive, Nick Sanders, and other members of the management team.

Gardner Denverís president and chief executive Barry Pennypacker describes the purchase as "an exciting strategic acquisition". CompAir, he says, "has a reputation for high-quality, innovative products and best-in-class customer service, which strongly complements Gardner Denver`s existing operations. By blending the complementary product lines and geographical reach of CompAir and Gardner Denver, the combined business will be well positioned to take advantage of future growth opportunities for its products, services, and people."

With more than 75% of CompAirís sales being in Europe and Asia, Pennypacker adds, "this transaction extends the geographic availability of Gardner Denver`s products and significantly enhances our channels of distribution to serve the global market.

"Over the past several years, CompAir has achieved numerous successes in product development and operational improvements, which has provided a solid platform for growth," says Pennypacker. "We believe there is more opportunity to grow the profitability of this business post-transaction through lean enterprise techniques, low-cost-country sourcing, and capturing integration synergies."

"This is a great opportunity for CompAir and is another important milestone in our long history," says Jeremy Sykes, managing director of CompAir UK. "Being part of Gardner Denver gives us the capability to accelerate our future growth plans and to broaden our product offering to customers."

Since Alchemy Partners acquired CompAir, it has invested around £40m in the business and undertaken large-scale restructuring. The number of employees has been reduced from around 3,000 to about 1,700.

In the year to March 2008, Invensys produced a consolidated operating profit before taxes of £16.1m on revenues of £265.1m. In addition to UK manufacturing facilities at its headquarters in Redditch and in Ipswich, CompAir also has production sites in Germany, the US, and China.

CompAir has three divisions: Industrial, Hydrovane, and Reavell. The Industrial division makes an wide range of products, including oil-injected and oil-free rotary screw compressors, piston compressors, and portable rotary screw compressors. The Hydrovane division makes rotary vane compressors. Reavell manufactures high-pressure reciprocating compressors producing air at delivery pressures in more than 400 bar.

Gardner Denver, with 2007 revenues of $1.9bn, makes reciprocating, rotary and vane compressors, liquid ring pumps and blowers for various industrial and transportation applications, pumps used in the petroleum and industrial market segments, and other fluid transfer equipment serving chemical, petroleum, and food industries.

The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2008.

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