Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Imo Planning £60 million Sale Leaseback of Car Wash Properties Across Europe

Telegraph - June 15, 2008

Carlyle Group is heading for a showdown with debt investors of Imo, the world's biggest car wash company, as the private equity house revealed plans to dipose of the group's property assets to raise more money.

Carlyle, which is nick-named the ex-presidents' club for employing political heavyweights such as James Baker and John Major, has in recent weeks asked the debt investors of Imo to approve of a sale and lease back of car wash sites that would raise £60m. The debt investors are concerned about the proposals since the property is the main collateral for their investment.

One investor said: "This seems to be an effort on the part of Carlyle to use our security rather than put in more equity themselves. It is not satisfactory." Debt holders have been asked to approve the scheme in the next few weeks.

Carlyle wants to raise the additional money to fund an expansion plan of new car wash sites across Europe. The car wash company had a tough year last year after poor weather affected trading. Experts say that people are more likely to get their cars washed when the weather changes. Last year there were long periods of constant rain or sun.

This year the group says business has been strong so far. Even so Carlyle wants to build more sites to ensure a wider catchment area but needs additional funding.

Imo currently owns 900 car wash sites in 14 countries, that wash over 34 million vehicles each year. In the UK, Imo has 300 sites trading as Arc Clean Car Centres. The next biggest presence is in Germany where is has 335, with the remaining sites spread across 12 other countries.

Carlyle bought the group in 1996 from JP Morgan Partners. Previously it was owned by Bridgepoint Capital, which had led a management buy-in in 1998. The company was originally founded in Germany in 1965 and expanded to include sites in the UK, and throughout Europe. Sphere: Related Content

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