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Maplin Electronics sold for £85m to Rutland Partners

Former VC owner Motagu takes £159m bath....OUCH

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Electronics retail chain Maplin has been sold to a private equity firm for £85million - just a third of what it was acquired for a decade ago.

Rutland Partners has snapped up Maplin and promised to use "change, restructuring and investment" in the pursuit of profitable growth.

In a canned statement, Nick Morrill, managing partner at the venture capitalist, said the buy was a nod to existing management "in the recovery of the business" but he added "the potential" was "still to be unlocked".

The retailer was on a list of businesses that people in credit circles were monitoring given the high debt levels carried by its parent company and cost base; the chain operates 210 stores in the UK accounting for 90 per cent of its turnover.

After a few challenging years a new management team led by CEO John Cleland, came on board in 2012.

He was quick to point out today that Maplin is working to build the online portion of its business, as many old world retailers have belatedly done.

Maplin was turning over £100m when venture capitalist Montagu first acquired the business a decade ago from Graphite Capital for £244m.

Graphite, a Scottish hedge fund, made a healthy profit on the sale, after buying Maplin for £42million in 2001.

In the most recent P&L accounts filed at Companies House, Maplin turned over £213m in sales for the year to 29 December 2012, up from £205m in the prior twelve months. It made a profit of £12.4m down from £17.27m.

But parent company numbers for Maplin Electronics Holdings, where the VC debt resides, reported a net loss of £72.8m after paying out £68m in shareholder loans and a goodwill write-down. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

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