IK Sells Wehkamp

LONDON (Reuters) – European private equity firm IK Partners said on Friday it has sold Dutch internet retailer Wehkamp to a group of private investors, defying a tough climate for private equity exits.

A source familiar with the situation said the deal is worth about 500 million euros ($663.4 million) to IK, which acquired the business in 2006 from GUS plc, which subsequently demerged into Home Retail Group (HOME.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and Experian (EXPN.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz).

IK said its reorganisation of the retailer into three online stores for fashion, living and electronics has turned around Wehkamp’s declining sales to produce an average annual growth rate of 5 percent and a doubling of operating profits.

Wehkamp’s website has more than 5 million visitors a month and it completes around 5 million orders every year.

IK said it has also sold Wehkamp’s consumer loan business Lacent as part of the deal.

(reporting by Simon Meads; Editing by David Cowell)