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FAIREY ENGINEERING RETURNS TO BRITISH HANDS

Dec 06. Dunedin Capital Partners, the UK mid-market private equity house, announces that it has led the management buyout of WFEL Limited (“WFEL”) which is a world leading designer and manufacturer of mobile bridging systems and related products. Dunedin backed the management team, led by Managing Director Ian Wilson and Finance Director Cliff Richards, in a transaction valued at £48m.

Dunedin provided £21m of equity, for a majority stake, alongside a debt package of £27.5m provided by Barclays Leveraged Finance and Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander Ltd.

WFEL is a world leading manufacturer of military tactical bridges. It is located in Stockport, has a workforce of 160 and provides high specification, high functionality, and complex bridging systems predominantly to the US Department of Defence and also to the UK Ministry of Defence. In addition, WFEL is the sole supplier of specialist consumable steel rods used the UK’s fourteen Advanced Gas Cooled Nuclear reactors.

WFEL has a suite of mobile bridge products which also have applications in disaster relief and non-military areas. These bridge systems can be transported by vehicles, helicopters or dropped by parachute from aircraft. The bridge systems have to be strong enough to support the weight of a tank on its transporter, in total around 100 tonnes. One of WFEL’s leading products is the state of the art Dry Support Bridge which requires only eight individuals and an integrated launch vehicle to span a 40 metre gap in 90 minutes.

Dougal Bennett and Duncan Macrae led and completed the transaction for Dunedin. Macrae commented, “We have been tracking WFEL for some time and have forged a very close relationship with the management team. Through integrating design, specification, manufacture and assembly of each critical component into a single site operation they have been able to ensure control over WFEL’s processes and therefore over its quality of output which is outstanding. We are buying a strong core business with a number of exciting growth opportunities.”

Ian Wilson, Managing Director of WFEL added, “The management team at WFEL are very excited about this new phase in our business. Dunedin’s support throughout has been tremendous. Dunedin’s backing will allow us to strengthen the existing core business, enabling the potential for further growth whilst maintaining the strong relationships and product base which made WFEL what it is today. We move forward with enthusiasm, integrity and continuing pride in this business.”

Dougal Bennett who joins the Board of WFEL, commented, “We are delighted to back WFEL in what represents the first investment for the recently raised £250 million Dunedin Buyout Fund II.”

Jamie Grant, director of Barclays Leveraged Finance Team in Scotland, added: “WFEL has built a global brand and solid reputation over the course of 45 years and we’re delighted to contribute to such an exciting deal. The market WFEL operates in has hugely attractive growth characteristics and the company is well positioned to play a key role in its development. The management team in place is extremely capable and with the backing of Dunedin and Barclays there is scope for even more growth going forward.”

Philip Nguyen, Assistant Director at Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander commented: “WFEL has a long track record of being a high quality manufacturer of military bridging systems. Its strong market position and expertise will open significant market opportunities for growth. We are delighted to back Dunedin and management on the buyout of WFEL.”

Hammonds provided legal advice to Dunedin while PwC and Shreeveport provided tax and commercial due diligence respectively. Catalyst Corporate Finance provided corporate finance advice.

Dunedin provides equity finance for management buyouts and management buyins with a transaction size of £10 million – £75 million. It is an independent private equity house, owned by the directors an

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