Ambienta sells platform company SF-Filter to Equistone

Photo: Stefan Maser Mana­ging Direc­tor and Part­ner at EQUISTONE in Munich
30. Septem­ber 2022

Milan/London/Paris/Munich — Ambi­enta SGR SpA (“Ambi­enta”), one of Europe’s largest asset mana­gers focu­sed on envi­ron­men­tal sustaina­bi­lity, has reached an agree­ment to sell its port­fo­lio company SF-Filter Group (“SF-Filter”), Europe’s leading provi­der of mobile and indus­trial filters, to funds advi­sed by Equi­stone Part­ners Europe (“Equi­stone”).

After Ambi­enta reco­gni­zed the impor­t­ance of the filter indus­try in driving sustaina­bi­lity trends, the inves­tor acqui­red a majo­rity stake in SF-Filter in Janu­ary 2016. With Ambienta’s support, SF-Filter was success­fully trans­for­med from an owner-mana­­ged to a mana­ge­­ment-led company with an expe­ri­en­ced leaders­hip team and a modern cross-nati­o­­nal matrix organization.

SF-Filter is the leading Euro­pean distri­bu­tor of mobile and indus­trial (non-auto­­mo­­tive) filters for the secon­dary market: its 140,000 diffe­rent types of filters make an important contri­bu­tion to redu­cing pollutant emis­si­ons and energy consumption

Under the new owners­hip of Ambi­enta, an ERP system1 was intro­du­ced, inte­gra­ting all corpo­rate func­tions and coun­tries; an online store was set up and expan­ded with the aim of covering a large part of sales. The supply chain was rede­si­gned and opti­mi­zed by redu­cing the number of local wareh­ouses while incre­a­sing the level of service to custo­mers. A consis­tent sustaina­bi­lity stra­tegy was pursued with signi­fi­cant impact on supply chain manage­ment and energy and water consump­tion, which were redu­ced by 6 percent and 31 percent, respec­tively. All econo­mic profits were inves­ted in the expan­sion of the company and invent­ories to create what is now the largest and most compe­ti­tive one-stop store for filter solu­ti­ons in Europe.

Head­quar­te­red in Bachen­bül­ach (Switz­er­land), SF-Filter today main­tains distri­bu­tion and logistics centers in Germany, Austria, France and Poland, and also serves a number of export markets. The company supplies over 27,000 custo­mers in many Euro­pean coun­tries with filters for oil, air, fuel, hydrau­lics, pneu­ma­tics, fluids, dust remo­val and air condi­tio­ning. The product range compri­ses more than 140,000 filter types, 40,000 of which are perma­nently in stock and avail­able for deli­very at any time. Milan/London/Paris/Munich, 29 September

In terms of Ambienta’s invest­ment stra­tegy, SF-Filter is an invest­ment with a focus on envi­ron­men­tal protec­tion. In 2021 alone, SF-Filter’s products clea­ned 2,169 cubic kilo­me­ters of air, equi­va­lent to a column of air 37 kilo­me­ters high over the New York City borough of Manhat­tan. The company’s filters also puri­fied 5,292 million cubic meters of water, equi­va­lent to the annual water consump­tion of about 29 million house­holds. SF-Filter’s products remo­ved 26,266 tons of pollut­ants and ensu­red their proper dispo­sal. This is the same amount of hazar­dous waste that 141,000 EU citi­zens produce each year. In terms of impact on the United Nati­ons Sustainable Deve­lo­p­ment Goals (SDGs), SF-Filter’s opera­ti­ons contri­bute to SDG 6 (clean water and sani­ta­tion) and SDG 12 (sustainable consump­tion and production).

Stefano Bacci, Part­ner at Ambi­enta, said, “SF-Filter is a prime example of Ambienta’s invest­ment philo­so­phy: a first-time invest­ment in a company with a very strong envi­ron­men­tal focus that provi­des the foun­da­tion for growth and stabi­lity. Ambi­enta has trans­for­med the company through deep orga­niz­a­tio­nal and opera­tio­nal actions that have ulti­mately led to more growth and higher profitability.”

Daniel Infan­ger, CEO of SF-Filter Group, said: “We would like to thank Ambi­enta for their strong support in the stra­te­gic realign­ment of our company over the past years. Toge­ther, we have adop­ted a whole set of measu­res that have enab­led SF-Filter Group to further conso­li­date its leading posi­tion in Europe, incre­ase its effi­ci­ency and custo­mer focus, and create sustainable value. The company is now stron­ger than ever and, with its new part­ner Equi­stone, excel­lently posi­tio­ned for the next steps in its growth.”
The parties have agreed not to disc­lose the finan­cial details of the transaction.

Ambi­enta was advi­sed on the tran­sac­tion by RW Baird (M&A sell-side), by Dechert, Niede­rer Kraft Frey and Wolf Theiss on legal due dili­gence, by KPMG on finan­cial and tax due dili­gence and by Roland Berger on commer­cial due diligence.

Stefan Maser, David Zahnd and Roman Emanuel Hegglin are respon­si­ble for the tran­sac­tion on the part of Equi­stone.

Equi­stone was advi­sed on the tran­sac­tion by Enqcor (M&A Advi­sory), Boston Consul­ting Group (Commer­cial), Alva­rez & Marsal (Finan­cial), Bär & Karrer (Legal & Tax), Latham & Watkins (Legal Germany), Howden (Insurance) and Houli­han Lokey (Debt Advisory).

About Ambi­enta
Ambi­enta is a Euro­pean inves­tor in envi­ron­men­tal sustaina­bi­lity in private and public markets. From Milan, London, Paris and Munich, Ambi­enta mana­ges assets of more than 3 billion euros. The focus is on inves­ting in private and public compa­nies that are driven by envi­ron­men­tal mega­trends and whose products or services improve resource effi­ci­ency and envi­ron­men­tal protec­tion. In the private equity sector, Ambi­enta has made 57 invest­ments to date. In the public equity sector, Ambi­enta has laun­ched one of the world’s largest abso­lute return funds fully focu­sed on envi­ron­men­tal sustaina­bi­lity and mana­ges a full range of sustainable products from low-risk multi-asset funds to long-only equity funds.

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