Liberty Corporate Finance is pleased to announce the completion of the £130m Management Buyout of U-POL, a world leader in automotive refinish products, by Graphite Capital from private equity investor AAC Capital Partners.

The U-POL brand is recognised around the world for quality and innovation. From its manufacturing facility in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, U-POL supplies professional vehicle bodyshops in over 110 countries worldwide with a broad range of refinish products used in accident repairs. The long established market leader in the UK, U-POL has successfully entered fast-growing markets like Russia, China and Africa and has increased its market share in more developed markets such as the USA and Western Europe. U-POL is ideally placed to capitalise on the increasing number of low-speed, low damage accidents fuelled by rapidly expanding car ownership numbers in developing countries and increasing levels of congestion in urban areas everywhere. Its high performance refinish products enable bodyshops to significantly reduce repair costs, compared with the cost of replacement panels. This is the second time that Graphite has invested in U-POL after backing a management buyout in 2002, growing the business strongly, and selling it to AAC three years later. John O’Neill, Kane Bayliss, Omar Kayat and Simon ffitch managed the U-POL transaction for Graphite.

Liberty were appointed to advise the management team on the transaction.

U-POL Chief Executive, Phil May, who joined the business in 2006, is leading the senior management team, all of whom are reinvesting a substantial proportion of their proceeds. RBS, HSBC, Clydesdale Bank and Bank of Ireland have provided debt facilities. Simon Hill from Liberty commented: “The deal concluded with Graphite was an excellent result for all concerned. Graphite’s expertise in the automotive after-market sector will enable the management team to accelerate profit growth on a global basis.” Phil May said: “Graphite’s track record, operating style and familiarity with our business and the automotive after-market made them our first choice. They share our strategic vision of increasing our penetration of international markets to achieve our ambitious growth targets.” John O’Neill from Graphite said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to invest in U-POL again. This is a first class business which manufactures and sells, under its own brands, high quality, innovative products and has substantial growth potential in a global market worth some £2.5 billion.”


Stork Materials Testing

1 September 2010