Barclays looks to clean up with £300m Swarfega sale

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The firm that invented Swarfega, the heavy-duty green handwash used by car mechanics, is to be put up for sale with a price tag of £300m.

Barclays Private Equity has hired the investment bank UBS to organise the sale of Deb, which it bought with the management for £135m in March 2004. An information memorandum is currently being produced.

An industry source said that a mixture of trade buyers and private equity would be interested. He added: "This is a high-quality business that will attract private equity businesses such as Bridgepoint, Cognetas, Hg Capital and Montagu."

However, a second source said that a sale could be difficult as the Derbyshire-based company could be worth closer to £200m.

Although best known for Swarfega, which Deb invented more than a half a century ago, the company produces a range of skincare products. Its Cutan brand, for example, is one of the UK's leading hand hygiene products for hospitals.

Barclays has beefed up the company's management, hiring James Wilde as chairman in May 2005 and Bryan Anderson as chief executive that September. Mr Wilde was formerly chief executive at Rentokil, and Mr Anderson was previously chief operating officer at the needlecraft company Coats.

A spokesman for Barclays declined to comment.

In other private equity news, more than 20 parties are thought to have reached the second round of bids for three motoring businesses being auctioned off by Aviva. Expected to fetch a combined £500m, they are Auto Windscreens, HPI and BSM. NM Rothschild is organising the auction.