NIBC backs Sport Group through ownership change

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NIBC recently closed a debt package to support the acquisition of long-standing client Sport Group by Equistone. While the German maker of artificial surfaces for sports fields and playgrounds has changed hands several times in the past decade, NIBC has remained its constant financial partner.

Our relationship with Sport Group dates back to 2006, when the company was acquired by IK Investment Partners. Over the years, our knowledge of Sport Group and its sector has deepened and we have cemented a strong working relationship with its CEO and CFO. In 2014, Sport Group selected NIBC as its documentation agent to coordinate an oversubscribed refinancing transaction, in which we also acted as joint bookrunner. The transaction was the largest in the German leveraged finance mid-market in the post-crisis period.

Based on this relationship and our ongoing support for Sport Group, NIBC’s leveraged finance team in Germany was able to assist all bidding parties in the final round of a competitive auction process and to act as mandated lead arranger of the acquisition finance package for new owner Equistone. A spin-off of Barclays, Equistone is one of Europe’s leading mid-market private equity investors and another long-standing NIBC relationship. The Sport Group acquisition is the first investment of its new Fund V, which closed earlier this year.

With a track record spanning 35 years in private equity, Equistone is well-equipped to assist Sport Group in the next phase of its international growth. 

Based in southern Germany, Sport Group currently comprises 19 companies in nine countries. It makes and installs artificial surfaces – turf fields and tracks – for sports such as football, hockey and athletics, as well as recreational playgrounds. It has almost 1,000 employees and generated sales of around EUR 300 million last year, putting it at the top of its market globally.

Our involvement in this transaction illustrates our ongoing commitment to our clients and our continuing support at decisive moments.

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