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Temasek buys UK testing group Element in $7bn deal


London-listed private equity group Bridgepoint has sold the testing company Element Materials Technology to Singapore’s state-backed Temasek, in a deal that values the business at more than $7bn.

The sale of Element, which tests products from autonomous vehicles to vaccine components and provides certification services for smartphones, is the highest-priced exit in Bridgepoint’s history.

The deal, which values UK-based Element at about 19 times its forecast earnings of $375m for 2022, pre-empts what several rival private equity groups had expected to be a hotly contested auction over the next few months.

A handful of investors, including Cinven and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, had submitted early-stage, indicative bids for the company, people with knowledge of the matter said. The groups declined to comment.

Advisers working with buyout groups had expected an auction to gather pace in the next few weeks and for offers for the company to come in at about £4bn.

Temasek, Singapore’s state-backed investment group, already had a minority stake in the business, which enabled it to move quickly to secure the acquisition and halt the auction.

Bridgepoint bought Element from 3i Group in 2015, in a deal that valued the company at about $900m, one of the people said. Since then, Element has snapped up 29 other companies.

Element agreed a £620m deal for lab testing group Exova in 2017, saying at the time that the acquisition would boost the company’s presence in the aerospace, oil and gas sectors.

Element employs 7,000 scientists, engineers and technology specialists, and generates annual revenues of about $1bn, it said in a statement.

Temasek’s “intimate understanding of the group and their track record of enabling businesses with sustainability at their core will help to accelerate the growth of our business in the years ahead,” Element’s chief executive Jo Wetz said.

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