Bain, Lion In Running for Alain Afflelou

Bain Capital and Lion Capital have emerged as front-runners to buy rival Bridgepoint‘s majority stake in French eyewear retailer Alain Afflelou in a sale expected to be backed by around 300 million euros ($399 million) of debt, Reuters reported Thursday. Bridgepoint bought a majority stake in Afflelou in 2006.

(Reuters) – Private equity firms Bain Capital and Lion Capital have emerged as front-runners to buy rival Bridgepoint’s majority stake in French eyewear retailer Alain Afflelou in a sale expected to be backed by around 300 million euros ($399 million) of debt, banking sources said on Thursday.

 

Bridgepoint, which bought a majority stake in Afflelou in 2006, hired Rothschild last summer to explore options to sell or float the business, but its plans were delayed by financial market volatility.

 

Bain and Lion Capital are head to head in the sale process with final round bids due in mid-April, the bankers said.

 

An initial public offering is still on the table, they added.

 

Bridgepoint and Bain Capital declined to comment, Lion Capital was not immediately available to comment.

 

Bankers are currently trying to arrange a debt package to back a buyout of around 300 million euros, or five times the company’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of about 60 million euros.

 

The process is part of a wider number of deals coming back to the market after being pulled or delayed last year due to tough macro-economic conditions, such as the sale of UK rail retailer and information provider Trainline.

 

Trainline’s owners Exponent Private Equity also hired Rothschild last year on a potential sale and are now exploring options for the business which has attracted serious interest from two buyout firms, although the process is thought to be in very early stages, bankers said.

 

Exponent declined to comment.

 

The sale of tax-free shopping company Global Blue by Equistone Partners Europe is also progressing and first round bids are due next week.

 

Equistone was formed in November following a management buyout of Barclays Private Equity. It acquired Global Blue in 2007 and looked to put the business up for sale last year but held off until a debt package for prospective buyers was put in place. [ID: nL5E8DS7LF]

 

AAC Capital Partners’ sale of ventilation and heating systems manufacturer and supplier Volution finally happened earlier this year. It was acquired by TowerBrook Capital Partners after an auction process came to a halt in October 2011. (By Claire Ruckin)