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Ahlsell

Activity
Building materials distribution
Transaction value
€1,200 million
Acquired
Jan 2006
Realised
May 2012
Sector
Industrials

Business
Ahlsell is the leading distributor of construction products in the Nordic region covering the heating and plumbing, electrical, tools and machinery, refrigeration and DIY sectors. It has built leading market positions in a number of these sectors across the Nordic region. Ahlsell’s diversified customer base has access to over 150,000 products from the company’s 216 outlets across the region and can access a further 200,000 products from Ahlsell’s suppliers.

Strategy
Ahlsell’s management team already had a strong and proven track record of driving growth within the business. Initiatives for further growth included: integrating and extracting synergies from recent acquisitions; making further acquisitions, both as smaller bolt-ons and as larger step-change acquisitions; and generating cost reduction opportunities in areas such as procurement, especially low cost sourcing.

Progress
Cinven worked proactively with Ahlsell during the economic downturn to enable the company to maintain profitability and a strong market position. The business ultimately benefitted from the overall economic recovery in the Nordic region, particularly in Sweden.

The management team worked closely with the Cinven portfolio team in Asia to increase focus on low cost sourcing and to further improve product assortment. Building on previous experience in Sweden and Finland, Ahlsell set up a central warehouse facility in Norway, creating value for customers through best in class distribution and service.

Outcome
The transaction completed in May 2012 resulting in a return of 1.9x to the third Cinven fund.