Deal Type: MBO, Exited - Trade Sale
Transaction Value: £48 million
Dunedin supported the management buyout of WFEL Holdings Limited in December 2006. WFEL is a world leading designer and manufacturer of mobile bridging systems and related products. Dunedin backed the management team in a transaction valued at £48m. Dunedin provided £21m of equity, for a majority stake, alongside a debt package of £27.5m provided by Barclays Leveraged Finance and Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander Ltd. Dunedin exited from WFEL in May 2012, achieving a return of 2.4x cost.
Dunedin's origination team identified WFEL as a world-leading business that also appeared to be a 'corporate orphan'. Dunedin's initial approaches to the company, before it was for sale, allowed Dougal Bennett to forge a very close relationship with the management team. This gave Dunedin the edge over its competitors in winning the mandate to back the management team, once the business was auctioned.
The market in which WFEL operates is highly specialized and the company has numerous opportunities for substantial growth. These include winning new military customers around the world and evolving the existing range of highly engineered products into parallel markets such as disaster relief and exploration.
WFEL is a world leading manufacturer of military tactical bridges. It is located in Stockport, Manchester and has a workforce of around 160 employees. It provides high specification, high functionality, complex bridging systems predominantly to the US Department of Defence and also to other military users around the world. In addition, WFEL is the sole supplier of specialist consumable steel rods used in the reactors of the UK's fourteen Advanced Gas Cooled Nuclear reactors.
WFEL has a suite of mobile bridge products which also have applications in disaster relief and non-military areas. These bridge systems can be transported by vehicles, helicopters or dropped by parachute from aircraft. The bridge systems have to be strong enough to support the weight of heavy military equipment but also to be highly mobile and quickly deployed. One of WFEL's leading products is the state of the art Dry Support Bridge which requires eight individuals and an integrated launch vehicle to span a 40 metre gap in only 90 minutes.
Ian Wilson, Managing Director of WFEL added, "Dunedin's support throughout was tremendous. They made a real effort to get to know the team upfront and understand the underlying issues. We felt there was a natural fit between WFEL and Dunedin, in particular in terms of enthusiasm, integrity and pride in the business."