EQT Partners has been building a strong franchise amongst local Nordic investors for some time, but their being voted Best Private Equity Firm for the Nordic Region in our awards suggests that the EQT name is now becoming familiar to a much wider audience.
The firm has been busy growing its portfolio and its presence across the whole of the Nordic region and beyond. Founded in 1994, the firm has invested over €1bn in more than 26 companies with an aggregate enterprise value of more than €3bn. The firm has made 6 exits to date and expects to deliver a gross IRR of between 30 and 40 percent - a broad target that the firm says it has comfortably exceeded to date.
EQT now has offices in Denmark, Finland, Germany and the Netherlands as well as Sweden. There have been five EQT funds, with the first two, EQT Scandinavia I and II, fully invested. EQT Danmark was launched in 1998 and EQT Finland in 1999. Most recent has been EOT Northern Europe, which was launched in 2001 after closing on €2bn of committed capital.
EQT is distinctive for having a unique relationship with Investor AB, the investment vehicle of the Wallenberg family and Sweden’s largest industrial holding company. Not only has Investor AB made significant commitments to EQT’s funds, it also helps provide a broad access network into multinational companies such as ABB, Ericsson, Astra Zeneca, Saab and SKF. EQT also works with operating executives as exclusive Senior Advisers. The firm has a group of over 70 industrialists who, through board representation, advise EQT's portfolio companies. Conni Jonsson, managing partner at EQT, sees the Investor relationship as yielding a number of benefits: “besides being able to plug into the Investor network, the name of course adds weight to our proposition; we will often find that family firms and certain corporates are open to
discussions with us because of our Wallenberg family connection.”
Other leading investors in the EQT funds include AIG, Allianz, General Electric Pension Fund, Harald Quandt Holding, Howard Hughes Foundation, Nykredit, Sampo and Temasek. To many, EQT's "industrialist" investment approach as well as powerful connections offers something different to the plain vanilla buyout story.
A hallmark EQT investment made in July 2001 was the group’s purchase from Electrolux of the major part of Electrolux Leisure Appliances, which specialises in manufacturing absorption refrigerators. This was the first investment from EQT’s Northern Europe fund. In the first stage of the deal EQT bought the operation’s businesses outside Germany and Slovakia but negotiated an option with Electrolux on these if the company chose subsequently to sell them. This happened later in the year when Dometic, the new company backed by EQT, bought these operations. The business had all the traits that EQT looks for when investing: quality management, market leadership and a reputation for high quality products.
The same traits can be found in other investments such as those EQT has made in leading frozen food producer Findus AB, in precision plastic parts manufacturer Perlos OY and in industrial refrigeration specialists Sabroe Refrigeration. As Jonsson comments: “in our experience, we have found that good companies have the ability to outperform our expectations.”
Source: PrivateEquityOnline.com, Annual Review 2001