Dunedin sells WFEL to German trade buyer

Private equity firm Dunedin has realised its investment in WFEL, netting a 2.4x return on its interest.

Mid-market focused investor Dunedin has sold the mobile tactical military bridging business to KMW, a Germany-based defence systems company.

WFEL manufactures mobile bridging systems for use in military and disaster relief scenarios.

In 2006, Dunedin led a management buy-out of WFEL, providing £21 million of equity of a majority stake alongside a debt package of £27.5 million laid on by Barclays Leveraged Finance and Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander. The deal valued WFEL at £48 million.

According to Dunedin, since its support began in 2006 the company has seen ‘significant growth in sales, increasing by 70 per cent to £36.2 million for the year ending December 2011. Employee numbers have also grown, rising by 15 per cent to 228 over the six years.

Dougal Bennett, partner at Dunedin and previous board member of WFEL, says that the business is an example of UK manufacturing at its best.

He adds, ‘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.

In 2009 WFEL undewent a refinancing on the back of winning new contracts which saw it switch switch to Lloyds TSB and up its facilities from £20 million to £30 million. Barclays remained in WFEL’s banking syndicate following the move.

Ian Wilson, chief executive of WFEL and lead on the initial MBO in 2006, believes that Dunedin’s involvement in the company has been ‘invaluable’ in helping it to grow.

‘Through their extensive industrial network, Dunedin was able to introduce high calibre, experienced board members who have helped to drive the business forward,’ Wilson says.

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter was the Editor for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2012 to 2014, before moving on to Caspian Media Ltd to be Editor of Real Business.

Related Topics