DGAP-Media: Ardian acquires toy manufacturer Schleich from HgCapital

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| Source: EQS Group AG
(DGAP-Media / 18.05.2014 / 11:19)

Schleich achieves turnaround - Ardian's investment allows new management
team to focus on future growth strategy


Frankfurt am Main / Munich / Schwäbisch Gmünd, May 18, 2014 - Ardian, the
premium independent private investment company, today announces the
acquisition of toy manufacturer Schleich from European private equity
investor HgCapital. The transaction has been done through Ardian's EUR 2.4
billion LBO Fund V, which the company closed in October 2013. The
management of Schleich has acquired a substantial stake in the company as
part of the acquisition, which is subject to antitrust approval.

Founded in 1935, the heritage Schleich brand enjoys a high level of
awareness and an excellent reputation with parents and retailers. It is one
of Germany's biggest toy manufacturers and a leading international supplier
of traditional figurines and realistic 'play world' concepts, which allow
children to create their own unique toy landscapes. Today Schleich's famous
figurines are sold in more than 50 countries. Originally family-owned, the
company was acquired by HgCapital in December 2006. Since then, sales have
grown from EUR 61 million to EUR 106 million, with the number of employees
increasing from approximately 190 to 340 today. The company has achieved
these milestones by penetrating new markets, including the US, and
launching successful new product ranges, such as Bayala elves.

After a period of stagnation in 2011 and 2012, a change in management was
implemented in 2013, and the company returned to a path of sustainable
growth with the support of HgCapital. Under the leadership of Dr. Thomas
van Kaldenkerken (appointed in January 2013), a proven consumer goods and
marketing expert, the company has developed new product ranges in the play
world and accessories area. These initiatives have been based on the
results of extensive market research and consultations with Schleich's
newly founded distributor's board. Since beginning of 2014 these products
have been gradually introduced to the market, taking the company to a new
level of its development.

In 2013, Schleich had already benefitted from the measures initiated by the
new management team and achieved a 7% growth in sales while increasing its
profitability compared with the previous year. Advance sales from the new
product ranges in the first part of 2014 have already exceeded the high
targets set by the management, validating Schleich's new strategy.

Dr. Thomas van Kaldenkerken, CEO of Schleich, emphasizes: "Since the
beginning of 2013, we have not only managed the turnaround of our existing
core business but have also set the course for further significant growth,
which is already producing strong results. This has also been achieved with
the proactive and professional support of HgCapital. With children we
develop real toys for children. With our innovations, which continue to
provide a platform for children's fantasy, the figurines and play worlds
from Schleich will continue to inspire children, parents and grandparents."

Justin von Simson, Partner HgCapital, says: "For HgCapital, Schleich was a
successful investment and it was a pleasure working together with the
current management team to help develop Schleich's international presence,
distribution and logistics capability and its profitability. We identified
a strong and experienced new leadership team for the company, jointly
developed a new, robust strategy for the future and thus positioned the
company for its next phase of growth. We are delighted to have found in
Ardian the ideal future partner for Schleich."

Caspar von Meibom, Managing Director at Ardian, adds: "For me as a father,
Schleich with its timeless toy figurines represents much more than just an
investment in a company. With its new strategy of increasingly expanding
into play worlds as well as further penetrating both international markets
and new distribution channels, we see significant additional growth
potential for the company. We are impressed by the implementation achieved
to date of the outstanding management team and look forward to working
alongside them to support the company over many years to come. We would
also like to thank HgCapital for developing Schleich in a sustainable way
and for its fair and reliable conduct in an efficient bilateral transaction
process."

Dr. van Kaldenkerken added: "We were impressed by Ardian's extensive
industry knowledge and are confident that their team will prove to be a
creative and highly engaged new partner. Ardian's investment approach of
long-term support for growth companies with sector know-how and financial
resources fits perfectly with our new corporate strategy and with the
significant future potential of the Schleich brand."


ABOUT SCHLEICH 
Founded 77 years ago by Friedrich Schleich in Schwäbisch Gmünd, the company
is one of the largest toy manufacturers in Germany and a leading
international provider of original play worlds. The famous figurines from
Schleich are sold in more than 50 countries and have conquered children's
bedrooms the world over. The design of Schleich play worlds, the creation
of the required tools and the quality and safety tests are done in Germany.
The production itself takes place at the company's headquarters in
Schwäbisch Gmünd and in a number of production facilities in other
countries. With approximately 340 employees, the company generated sales
amounting to EUR 106 million in 2013.


ABOUT HGCAPITAL
HgCapital is a sector expert private equity investor, supporting management
teams to grow industry champions. Deeply resourced sector teams focus on
specific sub-sectors and investment themes to identify companies occupying
an established market position, and which have the potential to grow faster
than their market, create employment and become the leader in their
industry. HgCapital's dedicated portfolio management team provides
practical support to management teams to help them realize their growth
ambitions. HgCapital invests in expanding segments of the TMT, Services,
Industrials, Healthcare and Renewable Energy sectors across Western Europe.

Based in London and Munich, HgCapital manages over £5 billion for some of
the world's leading institutional and private investors. For further
details, please see www.hgcapital.com.


ABOUT ARDIAN  

Ardian, founded in 1996 and led by Dominique Senequier, is a premium
independent private investment company with assets of US$47bn managed or
advised in Europe, North America and Asia. The company, which is
majority-owned by its employees, keeps entrepreneurship at its heart and
delivers investment performance to its global investors while fuelling
growth in economies across the world. Ardian's investment process embodies
three values: excellence, loyalty, entrepreneurship.

Ardian maintains a truly global network, with more than 330 employees
working through ten offices in Paris, London, New York, Beijing, Frankfurt,
Jersey, Luxembourg, Milan, Singapore and Zurich. The company offers its 300
investors a diversified choice of funds covering the full range of asset
classes, including Fund of Funds (primary, early secondary and secondary),
Direct Funds including Infrastructure, Expansion, Mid Cap Buyout (adviser
and manager of the ARDIAN LBO funds), Innovation & Growth, Co-Investment
and Private Debt.
www.ardian-investment.com



PRESS CONTACTS

Ardian

UK:
Headland
BEN GIRDLESTONE
Phone: +44 207 3675243
Cell: +44 7584 172226 
bgirdlestone@headlandconsultancy.com

TOM JAMES
Phone: +44 2073675240
Cell: +44 7818 594 991
tjames@headlandconsultancy.com

FRANCE:
STEPHANIE GRACE
Phone: +33 (1) 41719202
Cell: +33 (6) 3000 77 68
stephanie.grace@ardian-investment.com



HgCapital

Maitland
PETER OGDEN
Phone: +44 207 3795151
Cell: +44 7793 858211  
pogden@maitland.co.uk


End of Media Release

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Issuer: ARDIAN
Key word(s): Enterprise

18.05.2014 Dissemination of a Press Release, transmitted by DGAP - a
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