Private equity firm Aurelius has bought wholesaler and distributor Connect Books from distribution company the Connect Group for £11.6m. The sum includes an expected deferred consideration of £1.05m.
The deal is expected to conclude in January, when Connect Books - which consists of wholesaler Bertram Books, online retailer Wordery, suppliers Dawson Books, Erasmus and Houtschild, and Bertram Library Services - will be rebranded back to Bertram Group.
Aurelius is described as a "pan-European" investor, with offices in Munich, London, Stockholm and Madrid, and is listed on the Munich stock exchange; the Connect Books buy is subject to approval from the German competition authorities.
Aurelius said "operational task force experts" would support Connect Books management in carving out the business from Connect Group with minimal distraction to its day-to-day operations. Aurelius will also "work with the team to implement its planned growth strategy across its full brand range, with a focus on expanding the business’ international footprint, service offering, marketing capabilities and e-commerce platform", the announcement said. Connect Books has projected revenues of approximately €250m for 2017.
Justin Adams, managing director of Connect Books, commented: “Since the decision by Connect Group to focus on becoming a specialist logistics business, we have been exploring various ownership options. In Aurelius I believe we have found an owner that has the financial and operational capabilities to help us on our journey to build the best one stop shop for content and support us in the ongoing shift towards becoming a more customer-centric, agile solutions provider for our customers and suppliers. In the immediate term it remains business as usual as we complete our peak trading season and gear up for the new calendar year.”
Aurelius describes itself as "an active investor with a long-term investment horizon", specialising in creating value through operational improvement. It is said to have extensive experience in the distribution sector, with investments operating across a broad number of sectors including IT & Business Services, Industrials & Chemicals, and Lifestyle & Consumer Goods. It currently has 22 portfolio companies located across Europe which employ around 20,500 people and generate annual revenues of more than €3.5bn. It describes itself as "a perfect owner for the Bertram Group, where it sees the opportunity to invest in, and support the continued turnaround and operational improvement plans that the current management team have been affecting over the last few years."
Dirk Markus, c.e.o. of Aurelius, commented: “We are very pleased to announce our acquisition of Connect Books, an established, global business and a market leader in its sector. This acquisition is a further demonstration of Aurelius’ position as a preferred partner for corporates seeking a complex carve-out of a non-core business and we very much look forward to working with Connect Book’s existing management to support the business in its next stage of growth."