AXA Buys Photonis from Astorg

AXA Private Equity is paying around 500 million euros ($700 million), backed by 290 million euros of debt, to buy French optical component maker Photonis from Astorg Partners, Reuters reported Wednesday. AXA has already owned a majority of Photonis – holding the company from 2001-2008 before selling to middle-market firm Astorg. ING, Societe Generale Corporate & Investment Banking and IKB acted as mandated lead arrangers and underwriters on the debt financing, while Indigo Capital and Partners Group arranged the mezzanine facilities, Reuters wrote.

(Reuters) – AXA Private Equity has acquired a majority stake in French optical component maker Photonis from Astorg Partners for around 500 million euros ($700 million), backed by 290 million euros of debt, sources close to the deal said.

The buyout was announced by the companies on Wednesday and will see AXA re-acquire Photonis, which it owned from 2001 before selling it in 2008 to Astorg Partners, a private equity firm specialising in mid-market French buyouts.

ING, Societe Generale Corporate & Investment Banking and IKB acted as mandated lead arrangers and underwriters on the debt financing, while Indigo Capital and Partners Group arranged the mezzanine facilities, the companies said in the statement.

The senior credit facilities include an 80 million euro, six-year term loan A paying 450 basis points (bps) over EURIBOR and a 120 million euro, seven-year term loan B paying 500 bps over EURIBOR, as well as a 25 million euro acquisition facility and 15 million euro revolving credit facility, both paying 450 bps over EURIBOR, the sources said.

50 million euros of mezzanine will be provided too, the sources added.

Leverage, based on the 12 months to June 2011, is 4.9 times total and 3.9 times through the senior.

The loan is being offered to relationship banks but is likely to be syndicated more widely later this month, the sources added.

During 2001-2008, AXA grew Photonis through five acquisitions, including Netherlands-based Delft Electronic Products and U.S.-based Burle Industries in 2005, Antheryon’s business assets in 2006, Netherlands-based Hi-Light Opto Electronics in 2007 and the assets of UK-based Brennel Glass in 2008.

Astorg brought Photonis in 2008 with 190 million euros of debt, according to Thomson Reuters LPC data.

Photonis specialises in photo sensor technology and the design and manufacturing of image intensifier tubes for space, research, defence and commercial applications. In 2010 it had a turnover of around 160 million euros. ($1 = 0.713 Euros) (Reporting by Claire Ruckin; Editing by Will Waterman)