31.10.2010 | RefuSol owners hire advisor to explore strategic options

Prettl Group, a privately owned plastic and metal automotive components maker, has mandated a financial advisor to explore strategic options for its subsidiary Refu Elektronik, a company source said.

The source declined to say which bank had been mandated to sell the company, which also makes and sells solar inverters under the RefuSol name. Prettl Group declined to comment.

SMA Solar Technology is RefuSol’s direct competitor, the source said but added that Prettl would be unlikely to accept an offer from SMA because Prettl is committed to maintaining the independence of the RefusSol brand. A spokesperson for SMA said the company is not interested in buying RefuSol. The source would only say that RefuSol, which was founded in 1965 and has 100 staff, would not give financial details. Prettl has generated revenue of between EUR 150m and EUR 160m in 2010 so far, the source said.

Transfer Partners partner Thomas Laible said transaction prices in this sector are based on multiples of six to ten times EBIT for medium companies with revenues of between EUR 20 and 30m. For larger companies this can reach a multiple of 15, he added. Laible said that the significant reduction in the price of solar inverters is likely to force the manufacturers in the sector with a turnover of less than EUR 50m to look for growth opportunities. He did not provide additional details about the potential growth options.

While the EUR 400m-turnover SMA leads the solar market, Laible said the EUR 329m-turnover Austrian company Fronius and the EUR 200m KACO new energy are not far behind. Laible added that there are roughly five companies with revenues of between EUR 20 and 30m active in the sectorThe main sector players are looking to acquire with a focus on R&D activities and know-how, Laible said, adding that also the location of the company (e.g. R&D facilities) can play a significant role.

Laible added that it is likely that the main players will roll out the acquired products under their own brands. Foreign players may also be interested in acquiring in Germany, the partner said, adding that in this case important decision criteria are the client portfolio and the main geographical markets of the target.

by Laura Larghi in Munich