Exclusive Group says it snubbed approaches from several trade buyers before agreeing to sell a majority stake to a new private equity investor.
The Paris-based distributor is chasing a new €10bn revenue target after yesterday inking a binding agreement with Permira, CRN sister publication Channelnomics Europe reports.
The investment from Permira is for "well over" €1bn, according to sources, with previous private equity owner Copeba said to have realised a multiple of close to five times its original investment.
Rumours have been swirling for several months that Exclusive was set for an ownership change.
Talking to Channelnomics Europe, Exclusive Group COO Barrie Desmond (pictured) confirmed that the pan-global outfit had snubbed approaches from multiple trade buyers in favour of another private equity sale.
Permira was one of seven private equity firms to make an offer, he said.
Exclusive Group's revenues rose 38 per cent to €1.75bn in 2017, and Desmond said the new goal is to grow to €10bn within five years. This includes trebling the size of its US business to €900m, and growing in northern Asia.
"There's been some speculation and rumour that we were up for sale. We were never up for sale," Desmond said.
"We had some unsolicited approaches from some likely people towards the end of last year, but we were already going through the cycle of looking for new investors, because we were so far ahead of our plan in terms of the growth.
"Because we are positioned in sexy sectors - cyber and cloud migration - it really attracted the who's who of the global private equity fraternity. Everybody was in the same ballpark and it wasn't the highest bidder, but the best bidder, and Permira were right up there."
Desmond said a trade sale would not have given Exclusive continuity of business model, and that Exclusive is not currently interested in the "vagaries" of being a stock market listed firm, ruling out an IPO for now.
"We had conversations, but nothing materialised," he said. "We're very precious about our people and the business, and we just couldn't see it. Going down that route, we weren't really convinced the continuity of the business model could be sustained, which is why we were in parallel going through the process of a private equity search."
"We want to go faster and further, and get more out of the engine," he said.
"We have funds to invest in further acquisitions, we want to expand our relationships with existing vendors and bring on board new vendors, and we want to invest in optimising the engine. It's now €10bn we are aiming for in five years, and this gives us a platform to go for that."
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