Low & Bonar acquires coated fabrics firm MTX Group

December 03, 2007 - United Kingdom

The specialist materials group Low & Bonar announces the proposed acquisition of MTX Group at a valuation of €166.0 million (approximately £119.4 million) on a cash-free and debt-free basis.

Acquisition highlights:
•MTX Group is a leading producer of technical coated fabrics with headquarters in Hückelhoven, Germany. Its members are wholly-owned subsidiaries of Mehler AG, a part of KAP Beteiligungs-AG. It produces premium materials for a variety of uses including, inter alia, side curtains for the transport market and fabrics for the architectural and print markets.
•For the financial year ended 31 December 2006, MTX Group reported consolidated EBITDA of €18.4 million (approximately £12.5 million) and EBIT of €14.6 million (approximately £9.9 million) on revenue of €133.1 million (approximately £90.5 million).
•The Acquisition represents another major step forward in pursuing Low & Bonar's growth strategy and is expected to reinforce the Company's position as a major international producer of industrial technical textiles. The Company also believes that consolidation opportunities within the technical coated fabrics market should offer further value creation potential.
•MTX Group's product focus is complementary to Low & Bonar's technical textiles business and there are likely to be cross-selling opportunities in the building and construction end-markets as a result of the Acquisition.
•The Company also believes that it can improve certain aspects of MTX Group's working capital management, increase its weaving and coating production efficiencies and enhance its innovation capabilities.
•Furthermore, the Company believes that there are likely to be opportunities for raw material cost savings and that the Acquisition would diversify further raw material purchases and reduce the seasonality of sales and profits for the Enlarged Group.
•The Acquisition is expected to be funded by a combination of existing and new financial resources. Low & Bonar currently has in place Existing Debt Facilities with in excess of £100 million of undrawn commitments and RBS and Bayerische Landesbank have agreed to provide a New Debt Facility of €90 million (approximately £64.7 million).
•The Board believes that the Acquisition will enhance the Company's earnings per Ordinary Share in the financial year ending 30 November 2008 (earnings per Ordinary Share stated before amortisation and non-recurring items).
The Company has continued to make good progress throughout the year, driven by organic growth and the successful integration of the acquisitions made during 2006. The Board is pleased to report that trading for the financial year ending 30 November 2007 is expected to be in line with its expectations.

The Technical Textiles Division has seen the benefits of a first full year contribution from, and successful integration of, both Geo-Tipptex and Colbond, the acquisitions made during 2006. The Colbond acquisition was the largest made by the Company in recent years and has performed ahead of expectations at the time of acquisition, including a robust performance from the building and industry segment despite the current difficulties in the US housing market.

The Fabrics business has continued to perform well throughout the year through its continued focus on higher margin products. Specialist Yarns, for the second half of the year, was well ahead of the same period last year.

As anticipated, raw material prices, whilst remaining high, have been more stable than in recent years. The Company continues to expect that additional capacity amongst suppliers will bring a downward pressure to bear on raw material prices in 2008.

The Company also believes that the Floors Division has made good progress for the year. There has been encouraging growth in the sales of branded products, such as Flotex and Tessera, offset by lower sales of lower margin third party sourced products. Overall the impact on margins and profits has been positive.

The preliminary announcement of the results for the financial year ending 30 November 2007 is expected to be made on 18 February 2008.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Paul Forman, Group Chief Executive of Low & Bonar said: “We are delighted to be announcing this transaction. MTX Group is an excellent opportunity to pursue our existing growth strategy following the successful acquisition of Colbond last year. The acquisition of MTX Group will add new markets to our existing portfolio, providing exciting cross-selling opportunities and we believe that this acquisition enhances further the Group’s long-term growth potential”.

Duncan Clegg, Chairman of Low & Bonar, added: “The acquisition of MTX Group represents a further step forward in our strategy of driving organic and acquisitive growth in our core markets. Low & Bonar is now firmly established as a major competitor in the technical textiles industry, and we look forward to building on that position”.