A&O, Travers set to clean up in sale of swine flu soap manufacturer

Allen & Overy (A&O) and Travers Smith have ­continued to reap the benefit of the upturn in private ­equity buyouts after acting on the sale of swine flu soap manufacturer Deb Group.

Paul Dolman
Paul Dolman

Travers Smith, led by ­corporate partner Paul ­Dolman, acted for the seller, Barclays Private Equity (BPE), on a deal valued at £325m. Tax partner ­Kathleen Russ also acted on the transaction.
Derek Baird led the A&O team acting for buyer ­Charterhouse Capital ­Partners on the transaction.

Travers Smith won the BPE mandate after advising the Deb management on its initial sale in 2004, when the private equity house invested £135m to take a 55 per cent stake in the business.
The latest deal was slated to go ahead in the summer of 2008 before being put on the back burner following the collapse of Lehman Brothers. The hiatus proved profitable for the skincare products manufacturer, with last year’s swine flu scare prompting an increase in sales of industrial hand cleaner Swarfega.

The year to December 2009 saw Deb generate sales in excess of £122m. The company came to market in September 2009. UBS ran the auction with several other private equity houses understood to be among the bidders with Charterhouse.

Dolman said: “It’s especially pleasing in that 18 months ago we would have struggled to get this away.”

Travers Smith has already won mandates on several other of this year’s private equity deals, including the Pets At Home buyout by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co and ICG’s investment in CPA Global.