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Webhelp buys Scottish call center operator

by Jonathan Braude In London  |  Published February 20, 2013 at 3:52 PM
Scotland's largest call center operator has been snapped up from its Indian business process outsourcing owner Hero Management Service Ltd. by private equity-backed French rival Webhelp SA in a £77 million ($120 million) deal.

Hero Group, which first bought Falkirk-based Telecom Service Centres Ltd. for £40 million in 2007 and changed the name to HEROtsc, has decided to concentrate on its core domestic business of building motorcycles.

Webhelp, a portfolio company of London buyout firm Charterhouse Capital Partners LLP, said Tuesday, Feb. 19, it plans to rebrand the company Webhelp tsc and use it as a platform for expansion into the U.K.

Paris-based Webhelp operates 24 contact centers in continental Europe and North Africa, has annual revenue of €220 million ($293 million) and employs 10,500 people. The acquisition will add another 6,000 employees in Scotland and England and boost annual revenue to about €350 million.

The deal comes as Charterhouse is attempting to sell Elior SCA, its French institutional catering and services group. Charterhouse bought what was then Elior SA for €2.5 billion in 2006, and is eyeing either a €2 billion sale of the catering unit alone or a much higher price for the whole company. A private equity consortium of CVC Capital Partners and BC Partners Ltd. is reportedly preparing a bid valuing Elior at €3.5 billion including debt.

All three private equity houses declined to comment on the report, which first appeared Wednesday in the Financial Times.

Charterhouse is also preparing to sell its stake in German metering services operation Ista International GmbH, which it bought from CVC Capital Partners for €2.4 billion in 2007. Information memoranda are reportedly due out in the next few days, as Charterhouse targets a valuation of up to €3 billion for the company.

The "for sale" sign has also reportedly gone up over French perfume retailer Nocibé France Distribution SAS, which Charterhouse acquired for €490 million in 2005. The firm needs some strong exits to provide returns to its investors before it starts raising a new fund. Its €4 billion Fund IX reached a final closing in 2009.

Tags: BC Partners Ltd. | Charterhouse Capital Partners LLP | CVC Capital Partners | Elior SCA | Hero Management Service Ltd. | HEROtsc | Nocibé France Distribution SAS | Telecom Service Centres Ltd. | Webhelp SA

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