Warranty giant D&G shelves plan for £1bn sale or float

18 June 2019, 10:10 | Updated: 18 June 2019, 12:55

One of the UK’s biggest insurers of home appliances has shelved plans for a sale or flotation valuing it at more than £1bn amid a lukewarm response from public and private market investors.

Sky News has learnt that Domestic & General (D&G;), which is owned by the Premiership Rugby shareholder CVC Capital Partners, decided in the last few days to abandon discussions about a deal.

The decision comes a month after D&G; received offers from a small number of private equity suitors valuing the business at just over £1bn.

Centerbridge and Warburg Pincus are understood to have examined a possible takeover that would have given D&G; its third private equity owner in a decade, but opted not to pursue a deal at a valuation that was attractive to CVC.

Talks between D&G; and institutional investors also failed to yield sufficient assurances that the company could achieve a price tag of £1.2bn or more.

A float had been pencilled in for as soon as this month, and the termination of discussions marks a rare setback for CVC, which according to the Financial Times is in the process of raising Europe's largest ever buyout fund.

The decision marks the second time in nine months that CVC has been disappointed by its efforts to offload part or all of its shareholding in D&G.;

The company, which has contracts to insure millions of boilers, washing machines, televisions and cameras in 14 countries, is seen as having limited growth prospects in the near term, and could be vulnerable to any sustained economic downturn.

D&G; is chaired by David Tyler, who recently stepped down from the same role at J Sainsbury, the supermarket chain.

A person close to CVC insisted on Tuesday that it had not run a formal dual-track exit process, and had simply responded to inbound enquiries from potential buyers.

The private equity group could revisit plans for a flotation later in the year that would enable it to retain a partial stake in D&G;, the person said.

D&G; was founded in 1912, initially insuring livestock in Western Australia, before its headquarters moved to London.

Galaxy Finco, the warranty provider's parent company, recently reported a modest 2.3% rise in underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation to £101m.

‎It said group sales had risen by 6.5% to £872m.

D&G; employs 2,900 people and has a broader network of 8,500 approved engineers, which it says is the largest in the UK.

It has core relationships with major consumer-facing companies including Argos and Sky, the immediate parent of Sky News, and has a market-leading position in specialist warranties and home appliance care provision.

In total, D&G; has more than 16 million customers and insures 24 million appliances.

The company was taken private in 2007 by Advent International, the private equity firm, in a £524m deal, before being sold six years later to CVC for £750m.

D&G; is run by Ian Mason, the former chief executive of Electrocomponents.

CVC and D&G; both declined to comment.‎