Comstack

Activity
Design and manufacture of gas sensor elements
Acquired
Aug 1993
Realised
Jun 1996
Sector
Industrials

Business
Previously known as City Technology Limited and owned by City University, the business designed and manufactured gas sensor elements. In August 1993 its management, led by its managing director and supported by Cinven’s investors, bought out the business. At the time of its buyout, Comstack was the world market leader in high performance electro-chemical gas sensors.

Strategy
The two principal markets for these products were safety monitoring and emissions monitoring applications, both fixed and portable. With the markets growing quite rapidly, Comstack’s rate of growth was ahead of the curve. The company planned a programme of production improvements which would serve to further enhance the barriers to its competitors. In addition, new products were to be developed to add to the range of those the company already offered.

Outcome
The company maintained its technological lead over its competition. Its cashflow was strong, allowing it to repay a substantial proportion of its debt. In June 1996 Comstack was successfully floated on the London Stock exchange enabling Cinven’s investors to exit the business with a significant gain on their original investment.

Multiple returned on investment: 4x.