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KKR acquires Capital Safety

$1.12 billion acquisition

January 11, 2012
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Kohlberg Kravis Roberts  struck its second oil and gas-related deal within a week with a $1.12 billion acquisition of Capital Safety, the UK-based maker of safety harnesses.

The U.S. private equity group agreed to take over the company from Arle Capital Partners, the buy-out group that was spun out of UK’s Candover Investments in April.

The acquisition follows KKR’s $7.2 billion deal to acquire Samson Investments, the U.S. oil and gas company, in the world’s largest buy-out this year outside of the real estate sector.

The transactions underline how the world’s biggest private equity groups are still finding ways to finance deals despite a sovereign debt crisis in Europe that has slowed down the lending market and derailed a number of sales processes.

Bankers said Capital Safety, which has seen several chief executives being replaced since Arle bought it in 2007, was easier to finance because it generates the bulk of its profits in the U.S. despite being headquartered in the UK.

Arle had initially tried to get a higher price by selling it to U.S. technology company 3M, but the talks faltered. In the auction with private equity groups that was reignited last month, KKR competed with rivals Cinven Group and EQT Partners. Warburg Pincus, the U.S. buy-out group, dropped out of the process a few weeks ago.

Capital Safety produces safety and protection equipment for the construction and oil and gas industry. Its revenues rose by almost a fifth to $246 million in the past financial year, which ended in March. 

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