Dunedin Makes 2.4x Return on WFEL

UK-based mid-market private equity house Dunedin has sold WFEL to KMW, a German land defence systems provider. WFEL manufactures mobile bridging systems for use in military and disaster relief scenarios.The sale has realised a multiple of 2.4x for Dunedin.


Dunedin, the mid-market private equity house, has sold WFEL, the world leader in mobile tactical military bridging, to KMW, a German land defence systems provider. The sale has realised a multiple of 2.4x for Dunedin.

Under Dunedin’s ownership WFEL has seen significant growth in sales, predominantly exports, increasing by nearly 70% to £36.2 million in the year ended December 2011. Employee numbers have increased by around 15% to 228 over this period.

WFEL manufactures high specification, high functionality, complex mobile bridging systems for use in military and disaster relief scenarios. WFEL’s expertise – built on a century of UK engineering excellence and innovation – includes concept design, prototype manufacture and full scale production of a range of rapidly-deployable, modern bridging systems.

WFEL’s most recent product is the Dry Support Bridge (“DSB”), which it supplies to the US Department of Defence under a $500m contract. WFEL recently secured a £57m contract for the supply of DSB’s to Switzerland.

WFEL also provides value-added inspection, repair and maintenance; spares; and training services, both in the field and at its UK-based engineering site in Stockport, where it employs a team of highly-skilled engineers and support staff. In addition, WFEL is the sole supplier of specialist consumable steel rods to British Nuclear Fuels for use in Gas Cooled Nuclear Reactors.

Dougal Bennett, a partner at Dunedin who sat on the board of WFEL, said: “WFEL is an example of UK manufacturing at its best. In the last five years the company has seen significant international growth and enters KMW’s ownership with an enviable long-term order book. This has been achieved on the back of the excellent engineering and service reputation held by the company and delivered by the WFEL management team. Important new contracts have been won in markets as diverse as Switzerland, Turkey and Indonesia. Further exciting new opportunities exist in Asia and South America in particular.”

“WFEL has proven to be a real hidden champion of a business, with a market leading product, world leading engineering skills and a highly respected management team. We would like to wish the team and employees all success for the future and thank them for their dedication and hard work during Dunedin’s period of ownership.”

Ian Wilson, Chief Executive of WFEL, said: “Dunedin’s investment in WFEL, both financial and operational, has been invaluable in helping the company to grow to where it is now. Together, we have enhanced and expanded WFEL’s international sales and marketing reach; secured significant new contracts; and developed a strong and growing spares and refurbishment revenue stream.

“Through their extensive industrial network, Dunedin was able to introduce high calibre, experienced board members who have helped to drive the business forward. WFEL now has some very exciting opportunities open to it and we much look forward to pursuing these for the benefit of our new owners, KMW.”

For further information please contact:
Equity Dynamics
Corinna Osborne 07825 326 440
Jane Kirby 07825 326 441

Corporate Finance – PWC: Stuart Warriner, Andi Tomkinson, Darren Jukes, Ben Mitchell and Sarah Walters
Legal – Pinsent Masons: Gregg Davison, Mark Whittaker
Legal UK (advising KMW) – Travers Smith: Andrew Gillen
Legal Germany (advising KMW) – Oppenhoff: Michael Abels
Corporate Finance (advising KMW) – Steen Associates: Joerg Freimund

Dunedin (www.dunedin.com)
Dunedin is a leading UK mid-market private equity investor targeting buyouts with a deal size of £20m to £75m. Dunedin typically invests £20m or more in its portfolio companies.
Dunedin focuses on a number of sectors, using its depth of knowledge to understand the market drivers and to build relationships with management teams, key industry participants and influencers. The firm has enjoyed particular success in the industrial, business services and financial services sectors, completing eleven portfolio acquisitions in 2011 in order to drive the growth and internationalisation of its investee businesses.
Located in Edinburgh and London, Dunedin has a new investment team comprising 16 investment professionals with approximately 200 years of private equity experience between them.
Dunedin has more than £400m under management. This is managed on behalf of three limited partnership funds and a publicly quoted investment trust. These funds are backed by more than 20 institutional investors from the UK and Europe and, in the case of the investment trust, by over 5,000 institutional and individual shareholders.

WFEL (for more information see www.wfel.com )
WFEL was founded in 1915 (originally as the Fairey Aviation Company) and has been based in Stockport, near Manchester, for the last 77 years. The name WFEL is an abbreviation of Williams Fairey Engineering Ltd.

The factory at Stockport has been used to manufacture a variety of aircraft over the years including the Fairey Swordfish and the supersonic Fairey Delta FD1 and FD2 (the latter aircraft was a forerunner of Concorde and was the first aircraft to exceed 1,000 mph in level flight. It held the world air speed record (1,132 mph) for two years.

The company diversified into manufacturing hybrid helicopter/fixed wing aircraft in the 1950’s and subsequently into the manufacture of military bridges from the late 1960’s.
WFEL continues to support the Fairey Brass Band (an award winning brass band founded at WFEL in 1937), which still practices at the factory in Stockport.

The company also supports an expert aluminum welding school on site at WFEL – just one of a few such places in the UK – to train engineers in world leading aluminium welding techniques.

As a manufacturer, WFEL is conscious of its use of scarce resources. The company recycled some 187 tonnes of aluminum, 65 tonnes of steel and 28 tonnes of stainless steel last year.

About Krauss-Maffei Wegmann GmbH
Krauss-Maffei Wegmann GmbH & Co. KG leads the European market for highly protected wheeled and tracked vehicles. At locations in Germany, Brazil, Greece, Mexico the Netherlands, Singapore, the USA and Turkey, some 3,200 employees develop, manufacture and support a product portfolio ranging from air-transportable, highly protected wheeled vehicles through reconnaissance, antiaircraft and artillery systems to main battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and bridge-laying systems. In addition, KMW has wide ranging system competence in the area of civil and military simulation, as well as in command and information systems and remote-controlled weapon stations with reconnaissance and observation equipment for day and night missions. The armed forces of more than 30 nations worldwide rely on tactical systems by KMW.