Ardian buys stake in interior construction company Acousti for $100m-plus

The PE firm acquired roughly 60 percent of Acousti Engineering.

Ardian is betting on the US construction and engineering industry through its investment in Acousti Engineering Company of Florida, the largest revenue maker in the south-east’s interior construction market.

The Paris, France-headquartered firm bought roughly 60 percent of the business for somewhere between $100 million and $200 million, according to a source with knowledge of the matter.

A number of branch managers employed by Acousti – which has a workforce of approximately 900 – will own the remaining stake in  the company, according to the source.

Ardian expects to close the deal in the fourth quarter through its $400 million North America Fund II. The definitive agreement was signed on September 26.

Acousti, a commercial contractor that installs ceiling systems, floorings and other interiors, fell within the firm’s typical investment range of $10 million to $50 million in EBITDA.

“We met the management team back in December,” said Kevin Kruse, managing director of Ardian’s North America direct buyouts division, speaking to PE Hub from the firm’s New York office. The team, which transitioned to in-office work after July 4, signed an exclusivity agreement with Acousti in February, following which they only conversed through video.

Todd Welsch, director of the buyouts team, said the company went through a limited auction process consisting primarily of financial sponsors. The process was led by Croft & Bender, an Atlanta, Georgia-based sell-side advisory firm.

The deal ultimately comprised a mix of equity and debt, with Ardian having zeroed in on the lender community in July – a process that took about three months. Ardian did not disclose the debt financer in the transaction.

Formed in 1943, Acousti has 20 branches throughout the south-east of the US. The Orlando, Florida-headquartered company has renovated designs and layouts of casinos, workspaces and multi-purpose arenas in universities.

Kruse said that some branch locations offer drywall services, while others do not. He added that the aim is to standardize these specialized offerings across branch networks.

Ardian, which manages $100 billion worth of assets, is facilitating a senior management transition, which will be completed at close. Kruse said the current executive team would be retiring and that it would be replaced by a younger generation that has been working for multiple decades.

He added that the incoming team could be a potential growth driver. “The sellers wanted to keep the business relatively stable; they weren’t trying to grow it,” Kruse said. Ardian’s go-to plan is to look at providing additional services within the south-east.

Action Item: Check out Ardian’s Form ADV