BC Partners acquires Nille

29 March 2011

OSLO, 29 March 2011 – Herkules Private Equity Fund II has entered into an agreement to sell discount retailer Nille to BC Partners. During Herkules’ ownership Nille has become one of the leading Norwegian discount retailers, with efficient and expandable operations. With BC Partners as new owner, Nille will continue to grow in Norway and expand into Sweden.

Nille, a leading discount retailer in shopping centres and on high streets in Norway, has grown substantially over the past five years from NOK 750 million (€95m) in revenues in 2006 to NOK 1.33 bn (€170m) in 2010, or 16% a year, with an increase in number of employees from approximately 1,350 to 1,800 over the same period. The store concept has been upgraded, focusing on home decoration and seasonal events, and sourcing and logistics have been streamlined. By 2015, Nille aims for more than NOK 2 bn (€255m) in revenues.

Gert W. Munthe, Managing Partner at Herkules Capital, states that: "We are proud of having been part of and contributed to Nille’s growth adventure over the past five years. During our ownership we have invested more than NOK 200 million in stores, business systems and a completely new warehouse. It has been a pleasure working with the Nille team, management, and the Nille entrepreneurs, and we are confident that the company has a strong basis for growth in new markets."

CEO of Nille, Pål Wibe, adds: "Today Nille is a completely different company from when Herkules acquired it in 2006, it has a strong coherent team of employees and a robust platform to grow from. We are excited to have a new owner on board to support us in our ambitious growth plans, both in Norway and abroad. This year we are opening the first Nille store in Sweden. We will roll out a further 18 stores in Norway in 2011, bringing the total number of stores in Norway up to nearly 330, up from 230 when Herkules invested in 2006. Nille is an exciting company for customers and employees and we will continue to serve our customer with the best products and to create jobs and opportunities for our employees."

Herkules and the Aarskog family are selling all their shares to BC Partners, an international private equity firm with a long track-record in the retail sector. The new owner has played an active role in developing the European buy-out market over the past 25 years. BC Partners executives operate as an integrated team through offices in Europe and North America, acquiring and developing European or multinational businesses to create value in partnership with management. "We are very impressed by what management and the team at Nille have achieved together with Herkules over the past five years, upgrading the stores and refining the assortment. We look forward to support the Nille team in continuing to grow in Norway and expand internationally, and believe that Nille is very well placed to grow from its strong base in Norway and become a leading player in the Nordic discount mixed retail market, both organically and through acquisitions," says Joachim Ogland, Partner at BC Partners.

The sales process was advised by ABG Sundal Collier for Herkules Private Equity Fund II. Closing of the transaction is expected by end of April 2011, subject to approval from Norwegian Competition Authorities.

*Nille is one of the leading Norwegian discount retailers with a broad assortment of non-food products. Nille has a strong brand and nationwide network of more than 310 stores, which makes the company a clear leader in the shopping centre discount segment. The product range is exclusively targeted towards women and includes categories such as candles, napkins, birthday products, kitchen supplies, textiles and a number of other categories. Nille procures through its fully owned wholesaler, Per Aarskog AS. More information: www.nille.no

Herkules consists of three funds, with a total capital base of NOK 12.25 billion in committed capital from Norwegian and international investors. Herkules has the financial strength to acquire majority ownership positions in established companies with growth potential. Companies owned by Herkules funds are: Pronova BioPharma, Noratel, European House of Beds, Beerenberg Corp., Nille, Micro Matic Norge, Tilbords, Hatteland Display, EFG European Furniture Group, Aibel, Nevion, Estrella Maarud, Gothia Financial Group, Projectiondesign, Bandak, New Store Europe, Elis, Odlo Sports Group and Intelecom. More information to be found at: www.herkules.no

BC Partners is a leading international private equity firm with advised funds of approximately €10 billion. Established in 1986, the firm operates as an integrated team through offices in Europe and North America to acquire and develop businesses and create value in partnership with management. Since inception, BC Partners has made 73 investments with a total enterprise value of approximately €68 billion. More information about BC Partners can be found at www.bcpartners.com.

Media Inquiries

Herkules / Nille:

Burson-Marsteller Oslo

Rikke Eckhoff
rikke.eckhoff@bm.com
Phone: +47 23 16 45 00

BC Partners:

Perfect Game Communications

Susanne Jahrreiss
bcp@perfect-game.de
Phone: + 49 89 30 90 52 950