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Exclusive: Gilde Buyout Partners to sell Swets imminently

Dutch private equity firm Gilde Buyout Partners is about to sell Swets, its struggling global information management business, EducationInvestor understands. 
Royal Swets & Zeitlinger Holding NV manages and processes subscriptions to scientific and professional publications under a range of brands. The group’s customer base comprises more than 8,000 customers worldwide, representing around 800,000 subscriptions.
Two sources familiar with the matter told EducationInvestor that the process was advanced and a deal could happen in the next few weeks. But it is unclear how much Gilde is asking for or who will acquire it, as Swets breached its long-term financing covenant requirements last year.
Swets indicated it would pursue a sale in its 2013 annual report. “The ultimate shareholders of Swets Group... have decided to put all shares of Royal Swets & Zeitlinger Holding NV up for sale and have initiated a competitive auction process with a planned sale in Q3 2014," it said.
“The lenders support the plan and have decided to postpone the demand for repayment as long as the execution of the sales process develops according to the plan."
According to the report, Swets had net sales of €550.4 million (£437 million) in 2013, down from €596.2 million in 2012. Operating profit stood at just €2.6 million, down from €8.1 million. 
The firm described 2013 as "turbulent", blaming its exposure to government pay and the publishing industry’s ongoing shift from print to digital.  
Gilde bought the firm for an undisclosed sum in 2007, with participation from Swets’ management team. The investment was meant to drive international growth at the firm.
At 2013 year end, the Swets group had 572 employees across offices in more than twenty countries.
Berenson Consulting Group is understood to be advising Gilde on the sale. Both Gilde and Swets declined to comment.

Posted on: 12/09/2014

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