Green light for sale of UK parking-ticket firm NSL

LONDON, Sept 21 Tue Sep 21, 2010 9:46am EDT

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LONDON, Sept 21 (Reuters) - NSL, Britain's biggest employer of staff who write parking tickets and clamp cars, has set its sights on further growth after owners 3i Group Plc (III.L) sold the firm in a 120 million pounds ($186 million) deal.

NSL provides "parking enforcement officers" to more than 50 municipal authorities -- a job that like its police cousin, the traffic warden, is often controversial because of the big fines levied and the millions of pounds raised by local councils.

NSL, which employs about 5,000 people, will be sold to rival private equity firm AAC Capital Partners, the former buyout arm of Dutch bank ABN AMRO, the buyout firms said on Tuesday.

It also helps run the London congestion charge, alongside IBM (IBM.N), and is part of a scheme to bring regulated parking, with bays, meters and wardens, to Abu Dhabi.

Senior management, led by Chief Executive Mark Underwood, will reinvest in the business and Underwood said he saw "significant opportunity to expand the business over the next few years". It branched out into ambulance services by buying Patient First earlier this year.

NSL was previously part of NCP, the car parks business, which 3i bought in 2005. The private equity firm then split the two and sold NCP to Australia's Macquarie.

Taken together, the two sales will yield a return to 3i of about three times the money it originally invested, a person familiar with the matter said.

NSL's rivals include Vinci Park, a unit of France's Vinci (SGEF.PA), and Apcoa, owned by French buyout firm Eurazeo SA (EURA.PA).

NSL expects to make earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of about 15 million pounds this year, on revenues of about 155 million. (Editing by David Cowell)

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