NatWest takes helm in manufacturing venture

IN THE week that the OECD criticised the ownership of industrial stakes by German banks, the National Westminster Bank has moved into manufacturing. NatWest Ventures announced on Friday that it was buying three companies that previously belonged to Laporte for pounds 27m. Chamberlain Phipps Coatings makes vinyl base for the wallcoverings industry and Chamberlain Plastics produces plastic laminating, while Ricon is the UK leader in double-sided plastic.

The deal marks a departure for UK venture capitalists, which usually provide about 30 per cent of the capital, but stay in the background as managers take the lead. NatWest has not only bought the companies outright but also assembled a management team led by Roger Hatfield, formerly a director of Evode Group.

Analysts see this move as further evidence that the Anglo-Saxon and German banking models are converging.

The German stock market has become more important to industry, while British banks are now more prepared to take an active role in supporting companies.