Australia: Middletons acts for Harbert Australian Private Equity in acquiring strategic interest in Sumo Group
Last Updated: 9 February 2011

Middletons closed out 2010 acting for Harbert in its strategic investment in the Sumo Visual Group, showing further signs that private equity is coming back to life. The Sumo Visual Group provides a broad range of print, signage and digital signage applications for all types of retail, service and corporate sectors and enjoys strong relationships with a number of iconic Australian businesses.

Middletons lead partner on the deal, John Mann, said "The transaction involved the conduct of a full legal due diligence investigation and the finalisation of complex legal documentation within a tight timeframe."

In describing the deal, John said "Whilst the existing shareholders have sold down their respective interests in the group, they remain both key equity participants in the group and key members of business going forward, which will ensure it will be 'business as usual'. Harbert will provide its significant experience and expertise to augment the success of the group to date."

John said, "Harbert typically takes an active role with each of their portfolio companies by assisting with developing and executing strategic business plans and in some cases pursuing add-on acquisitions. Harbert provides access to a range of support services and prides itself on working closely with management in an attempt to execute business strategies and to build successful companies."

When asked about the current state of private equity investment in Australia and what the outlook will hold over the coming year, John was generally upbeat and optimistic.

John said, "We are really now seeing some confidence returning to the market and a return to more normal trading conditions. No doubt we will see more private equity plays in the coming year along with those looking to exit in order to realise their investment returns."

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