RLPC-Canada's OMERS fund buys shipping firm V.Group

LONDON, July 28 Thu Jul 28, 2011 6:20am EDT

LONDON, July 28 (Reuters) - Canadian pension fund Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) has signed a deal to acquire Scotland-based shipping services company V.Group for $520 million, it said on Thursday.

The acquisition of V.Group from private equity firm Exponent was completed by the London office of OMERS Private Equity, which opened in September 2009 to build a mid-market private equity presence in Europe.

Exponent agreed the sale to OMERS after talks with Charterhouse Capital Partners broke down earlier this month after Charterhouse revised its offer and linked part of the payment to the future performance of V.Ships by adding an 'earn out' clause. Exponent preferred an all-cash offer, sources close to the matter said.

OMERS' purchase of V.Group is expected to be financed with leveraged loans. Royal Bank of Canada Capital Markets (RBC) is providing the finance and is likely to syndicate out to a group of banks in a club deal, sources close to the matter said. However details of financing have not yet been announced.

Clive Richardson will continue as V.Group's chief executive.

Weil Gotshal & Manges advised OMERS on legal matters while Clifford Chance advised RBC.

Lazard advised Exponent with Allen & Overy providing legal advice. Law firm Travers Smith advised shareholders and management of V.Group.

Exponent bought V.Group with management in 2007 backed by $267 million of debt according to Thomson Reuters LPC data.

This included a $180 million, eight-year term loan B; a $60 million, seven-year acquisition facility; and a $27 million, seven-year revolving credit facility.

Under Exponent's ownership, V.Group has completed three acquisitions including Norway-based engineering consultancy business RC Consulting in 2007, Dubai-based International Tanker Management in 2009 and Singapore-based underwater engineering company Maritime Underwater Maintenance and Services in 2010.

Formed in 1984, V.Group provides management and related marine services to the global shipping industry.

The Glasgow-headquartered company supplies services to a fleet of over 700 vessels and manages a crew roster of 24,000 staff. (Reporting by Claire Ruckin; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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