Rizla was the world’s largest manufacturer of cigarette papers for the roll-your-own market. The business was privately owned by a Belgian family but following the untimely death of the CEO, a family member, it was decided that the business should be sold and in May 1994, an investor group of which Cinven was part, acquired the business.
Rizla, which had manufacturing operations in Wales, Belgium and France, had a strong brand name and substantial market leadership positions in its major markets. It also sold other items for the tobacco market such as cigarette tubes and lighters.
The business was purchased at an excellent price. Its sales and profits were steadily increasing year-by-year although spectacular growth was not envisaged. However, stronger management controls and greater integration of the various manufacturing operations of the business could increase profitability significantly. Some additional costs could also be removed from the business.
Following significant performance improvements that were well ahead of plan, Rizla was sold to Imperial Tobacco, a UK-based public company.
Multiple returned on investment: 5.5x