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€36m deal gives Pfaff-silberblau a new US owner

03 October, 2008

The US-based Columbus McKinnon Corporation has acquired the German actuator and materials-handling manufacturer Pfaff- silberblau for €36m in cash from the private equity firm, EQT Opportunity Fund, which has held an 85% stake in Pfaff-silberblau since 2006. Columbus McKinnon plans to keep the Pfaff-silberblau brand, and the current management will continue to run the business.

"Pfaff-silberblau is a leading European hoist and material handling equipment brand which complements our existing business in the region," says Columbus McKinnon’s president and chief executive, Timothy Tevens. "Additionally, its actuator business provides us with technical engineering expertise, access to the growing European market and diversifies our existing North American business.

"We believe there are numerous sales and operating synergies that can be realised through a combination of our Columbus McKinnon European and Duff Norton businesses with the 140-year-old Pfaff organisation," Tevens adds. "It has an excellent brand name and position in the market that is very complementary to ours. Overall, this acquisition is an excellent strategic fit with our plans to grow internationally and expand our line of products that lift, move and secure material."

Pfaff-silberblau’s actuator business produces components for lifting and motion control, including wormgear screwjacks, linear motion precision screws and quick-lifting screwjacks. Its lifting and materials-handling business includes wire rope winches, chain hoists, rack and pinion jacks and hand pallet trucks. Based in Kissing, Germany, the company employs more than 300 people and had revenues worth more than €62m last year.

Pfaff silberblau HQ

In November 2006, EQT (which is backed by the Swedish Wallenberg family) acquired the then heavily indebted and underperforming Pfaff-silberblau from the Pfaff family, which remained a minority shareholder. Since the acquisition, Pfaff has become profitable, its productivity has increased significantly increased and delivery times have been improved. A new headquarters and production plant have been built (shown above).

"Pfaff’s industrial development has surpassed our expectations," says EQT partner, Dr Ernst Ludes. "Management has implemented its business plan faster than expected, and EQT believes it is now time for an owner with a longer-term growth perspective."

"The Columbus McKinnon platform will offer tremendous growth potential," adds Pfaff’s CEO, Volker Bartelt. "We are now a truly global firm acting in global markets."

Columbus McKinnon manufactures material-handling products, systems and services. Its key products include hoists, cranes, chain and forged attachments. Its long-term goal is to achieve $1bn in revenue with half of this coming from international markets through organic growth and acquisitions.

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