Duke Street, Europa swallow up consumer and leisure group CI Traders

The pair have forged an unusual partnership to buy the Channel Islands’ biggest consumer and leisure group.

Private equity real estate investor Europa Capital and LBO shop Duke Street Capital have completed the acquisition of CI Traders, the largest operator of consumer and leisure businesses in the Channel Islands.

Shares in the company are suspended from today and will be cancelled tomorrow after more than 94 percent of shareholders backed the unusual buyout. The vote follows an offer for the company of 100 pence a share on June 27 through takeover vehicle, Sandpiper Bidco.

The buyout is unusual because it is a rare example of a pure private equity firm teaming up with a real estate investment manager to take over a company.

Jersey-based CI Traders has an enterprise value of £410 million (€604 million; $832 million) and is the result of a merger between two of the Channel Islands biggest companies, Ann Street Group and Le Riche. It operates more than 46 food and beverage stores and gas stations  under various brands. The retail division also owns a franchise to run Marks & Spencer stores and a batch of Safeway stores acquired from Bradford-based WM Morrison in April 2005.

In addition to the retail arm, the company operates consumer finance, hospitality, manufacturing and distribution businesses. Of particular interest to Europa is a separate property business, CIT Estates, which is responsible for managing and growing the company’s operational real estate portfolio, and ComProp, which owns non-core commercial property investments valued at £100 million.

As part of the agreement, properties are being sold to CI Traders chairman Thomas Scott. Some of the properties are being leased back by the operating company.