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Leveraged Loans

Forno d’Asolo nets biggest European bridge-to-bond buyout deal in 18 months

The €800 million underwrite backing the acquisition of Italian baked goods chain Forno d’Asolo by Investindustrial is the largest bridge-to-bond facility in Europe for 18 months, according to LCD.

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The €800 million underwrite backing the acquisition of Italian baked goods chain Forno d'Asolo by Investindustrial is the largest bridge-to-bond facility in Europe for 18 months, according to LCD.

The buyout from existing sponsor BC Partners is backed by a loan from banks led by BNP Paribas, Intesa Sanpaolo and UniCredit, and is expected to be syndicated to institutional investors through a mixture of fixed- and floating-rate high yield bonds in the second quarter, sources told LCD.  

The situation brings the largest bridge-to-bond deal in Europe since the €1.18 billion loan put in place in July 2022 to back the €3 billion buyout of luxury packaging firm Fedrigoni by BC Partners and Bain, and surpasses the €700 million facility reportedly backing the acquisition of Prelios, the Italian non-performing loan investor, by ION.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, bonds issued in Europe to finance LBOs total €7.2 billion, according to LCD, but Fedrigoni remains the only deal that was underwritten by banks after the war started, and taken out solely in euro high yield bonds. In February 2023, CVC financed its acquisition of Scan Global Logistics through a record Nordic high yield deal which was not underwritten by lenders, while other LBO financings for borrowers such as Synlab and WorldPay have included bonds alongside loans.

“It's one of the few sizable underwritten bonds since the start of the war in Ukraine,” said a source familiar with the Forno d'Asolo deal. “While supply is still expected to be dominated by refinancings, it shows that when you have the right sector, leverage and sponsor there is strong appetite for underwrites.”

Forno d'Asolo is being acquired by Investindustrial from BC Partners, and the deal will see the Italian bakery chain combined with Sammontana, the family-owned ice cream group. Leverage is pitched at 4.5x, sources say, and the transaction should emerge as an €800 million bond deal across fixed- and floating-rate tranches in the second quarter. 

 

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