Ashurst, Ropes and SullCrom advise on £1bn Ontex sale

Ashurst, Ropes & Gray and Sullivan & Cromwell have scored major roles on one of the largest European private equity buyouts of the year – the €1.2bn (£1bn) sale of Belgian manufacturing company Ontex to Goldman Sachs PIA and TPG Capital.

Maurice Allen
Maurice Allen

An Ashurst team led by private equity partners Simon Beddow and David Carter acted for seller Candover on the secondary buyout. The firm also advised Candover on its 2003 acquisition of hygienic disposables maker.

Ropes & Gray advised TPG, fielding a team that included founding partner of the London office Maurice Allen and Boston-based corporate partner Newcomb Stillwell.

Sullivan & Cromwell corporate partner Tim Emmerson acted for longstanding client Goldman Sachs.

The debt financing for the deal was supplied by Goldman Sachs and Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BoAML). Another Ashurst team, led by finance partner Jane Fissenden, acted for Goldman Sachs on the debt side, while BoAML turned to Allen & Overy global banking co-head Stephen Kensell.

Ashurst’s Carter said the deal could mark a turning point for a previously beleaguered private equity market.

He  said: “What matters is that it’s a secondary buyout with financing and on a challenging timetable, which augurs well for private equity coming out of the doldrums.”

For Ropes & Gray, the transaction is one of the most significant in the European private equity space since Allen and Mike Goetz left Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer to launch a London practice last year.

Allen commented: “In a market where there’s not a lot going on this is a bit of a coup for us.”