Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Alchemy and Civica

According to press and broker comment, it was Alchemy which was the 'mystery bidder' for Civica. They pulled out last week due to uncertainties in the debt market. As a "see what you missed" statement. Civica yesterday announced contracts worth c£50m with Sheffield City Council and Essex CC.
Assuming the 'rumours' to be true, this is a whole new episode in the PE story. We've now got used to PE firm A buying the interests of PE firm B - that was pretty unknown a decade ago. Now we have PE firm A re buying the interests it owned just a few years back.
Publicly quoted Sanderson was bought by Alchemy in the heady bubble days of Dec 99 for £114.5m. As a private company, it was split into three. Civica, Talentra and...Sanderson.
Civica IPOed in early 2004 as did Sanderson in late 2004. Talgentra still exists as a private Alchemy backed company but it sold its Tallyman collections operations to Experian a few months back. Not quite sure of the total return Alchemy will have made from all these but it's significant. There was a time in the early 2000s when it had looked an expensive mistake. We should never underestimate Mr Moulton!
Of course, the logic of a Public-to-Private bid for Civica revolves around putting it together with the local govt. operations of companies such as Northgate and Anite.

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