Global private equity firm Carlyle Group (NASDAQ: CG) agreed to acquire an 80% stake in IRCA SpA, a leading Italian and European B2B manufacturer of semi-finished products for the pastry, bakery and ice cream markets, from French private equity firm Ardian and the company’s 4th-generation Nobili family business founders, who will continue to manage the company.

Established in 1919, IRCA has a prominent position in the artisanal pastry and ice-cream markets, expanding its European presence across France, Germany, Spain and Eastern Europe, renowned for the quality of its product offering, which currently totals nearly 1800 lines. IRCA currently distributes its products in approximately 70 countries, through a strong network of long-standing distributors. In 2014, IRCA entered into the ice-cream ingredient market through the brand Joy Gelato.

IRCA operates with three state of the art production sites located close to Varese (Lombardy) with about 300 employees recording a turnover of more than €250 million in 2016, of which  25% was generated outside of Italy, with EBITDA of €40 million. IRCA has experienced strong growth over the last four years, posting a CAGR of 10% and 26.1% in revenues and EBITDA, respectively.

“I am convinced that Carlyle is the perfect partner for IRCA to continue the process successfully started with Ardian,” said Roberto Nobili, who will continue to retain his role as IRCA’s CEO.

“After a number of significant positive developments in recent years, we are pleased that IRCA, with a strong market position in the food sector, can now continue on its growth path with a new partner,” said Nicolò Saidelli, Managing Director and Head of Ardian in Italy.

Marco De Benedetti, Managing Director and Co-Head, Carlyle Europe Partners advisory team, commented: “IRCA is a great example of an Italian business with distinctive positioning and global reach, thanks to its high quality and diversified product offering, R&D capabilities, well-run operations and significant growth potential. The company has delivered notable performance in recent years, and Carlyle is delighted to assist the management by accelerating the company’s international development plan”.

The Carlyle Group has $162 billion of assets under management across 287 investment vehicles as of March 31, 2017. The buyout will be made by Carlyle Europe Partners IV (CEP IV). Carlyle invests across four segments – Corporate Private Equity, Real Assets, Global Market Strategies and Investment Solutions – in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East, North America and South America. Carlyle has expertise in various industries, including: aerospace, defense & government services, consumer & retail, energy, financial services, healthcare, industrial, real estate, technology & business services, telecommunications & media and transportation. The firm is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and employs more than 1,550 people in 31 offices across six continents.

Ardian, founded in 1996 and led by Dominique Senequier, is an independent private investment company with $62 billion in assets managed or advised in Europe, North America and Asia. The firm had acquired a majority stake in IRCA in 2015.

The deal is expected to close in Q3 2017 subject to customary conditions and regulatory approvals.

Carlyle was advised by BNP Paribas, DVR Capital and Latham & Watkins. The sellers were advised by Rothschild, UBS, Cube8, Giovannelli and Pedersoli.

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