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Bénéteau to buy mobile homes manufacturer

By IBI Magazine

The Bénéteau Group has announced that it has entered into exclusive negotiations with AXA Private Equity with a view to acquiring IRM, a French manufacturer of mobile homes. The acquisition, which is expected to complete by early 2007, would make Bénéteau one of the leading manufacturers of mobile homes in Europe with sales of more than €150 million. The French boatbuilder already has its own line of prefabricated homes under the O'Hara brand name.

"The Bénéteau Group's ambition is to continue developing these two brands independently, both in France and internationally, to their clients' benefit," reads a company press release. "Indeed, this business combination will make it possible to give the Group's product innovation and research efforts a whole new dimension."

Founded in 1992, IRM claims to be the leading manufacturer of mobile homes in France with sales of around €108 million from 1999-2002. The company, which is based in Luçon in the Vendée region of France, builds more than 8,000 mobile homes per year at four facilities — two in Luçon, one in Lesquin and one in Beaucaire. It has a workforce of some 476 employees.

Bénéteau, which is headquartered in St Gilles-Croix-de-Vie in the Vendée, designs, builds and sells recreational sail and powerboats, including the Bénéteau, Jeanneau, CNB, Lagoon and Wauquiez boat brands. It also builds the O'Hara range of mobile homes, which generated sales of around €47.5 million from 1999-2002. The company employs some 255 people at two O'Hara facilities in France.

"The financial terms of this deal — which will increase earnings per share as of the first year — mean that the Group will still be in a position to take full advantage of any opportunities for acquisitions on its core business," adds Bénéteau.

(11 December 2006)

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