Private equity in drive for Aviva assets

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The Independent Online

Vision Capital and Rutland Partners have emerged as the hot favourites for a £500m portfolio of motoring divisions being auctioned by Aviva, the insurance group.

The private equity groups are understood to want to buy the whole portfolio rather than just individual businesses. Many of the other bidders only want to buy one or two from BSM, the UK's biggest driving school; Auto Windscreens, the repair company; and HPI, a vehicle-information business.

NM Rothschild, the investment bank, is advising on the sale, which is in the second round of bids.

"Rutland and Vision Capital are the favourites to battle it out to take over the whole thing," conceded a bidder for one of the businesses. Glasfit, the South African car supplier, and RJD Partners, the private equity group, are thought to be in the chase for Auto Windscreens should Aviva take its less favoured option of breaking up the portfolio.

Vision Capital's website says that it favours purchasing "portfolios of mature, mainly European mid-market companies". The group owns a range of bakery businesses bought from Northern Foods in a £160m deal two years ago.

Rutland owns financial ATM operator Notemachine.