Two buyouts plan flotations in spring

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TWO MANAGEMENT buyouts have announced plans to go public, joining a growing number of companies taking advantage of the buoyant stock market.

Nottingham Group and Applied Distribution are among about 80 companies seeking a listing, estimated to raise a combined total of about pounds 3bn.

Nottingham, which supplies equipment to schools, will be capitalised at about pounds 80m. Applied, a contract distribution business mainly serving retailers and food manufacturers, will be worth about pounds 40m. Both plan to float this spring.

Nottingham Group, which also supplies rehabilitation aids for the disabled and elderly, was a pounds 36.7m buyout from Coats Viyella in 1989 headed by David Mansfield, managing director.

The buyout included the acquisition of E J Arnold, an educational supplier. Nottingham's sales in 1992 were pounds 48.3m ( pounds 50.8m) with operating profits of pounds 8.7m ( pounds 8m).

Applied operates out of five main depots, supplying such blue-chip customers as J Sainsbury, Nestle, Somerfield (Gateway) and CWS.

The company was a pounds 16.5m buyout of Geest's contract distribution business in 1989, a time when retailers were increasingly contracting out distribution services. The market - contract and in-house - is said to be worth about pounds 16bn.

In 1992 Applied had a turnover of pounds 21.4m ( pounds 18.4m) and made operating profits of pounds 3.4m ( pounds 3.2m). About pounds 4.5m has been invested in depot facilities and the vehicle fleet since the buyout, which was led by its chief executive, Michael Rowley.

The company's non-executive chairman is Sir Hugh Bidwell, a former Lord Mayor of London and director of Alpha Airports, the Forte division which last week announced plans to float.

The companies join names like Hanson's Beazer Homes, BTR's Graham Group, House of Fraser and Gardner Merchant, expected to be the main flotations of 1994.