LAW firm Dickinson Dees has helped the Newcastle managers of the UK's biggest incontinence pads maker which has been sold in a £150m deal.
Attends Healthcare last week signed a deal with Canadian paper industry giant Domtar Corporation which last year had paid a similar sum for the firm’s US counterpart.
Attends was formed in 2007 with the separation of the European and US arms of the firm Paperpak which had been launched in 2002 with a buy-out by venture capitalist 3i of the adult incontinence business run by Procter & Gamble in the North East.
The firm may be a giant in its field and employ more than 400 workers at its 374,000sq ft factory in Sweden and distribution depots in Germany and Scotland, but its nerve centre is a small office in Newcastle where around a dozen people are employed running the business.
Newcastle-based law firm Dickinson Dees has long worked with the firm and advised them on the latest chapter in its growth story.
Attends Healthcare, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, is run by group chief executive officer James Steele as it has been since it was created.
He led the Paperpak business at P&G and continued to run the firm when it was spun out and with backing from venture capitalists 3i in 2002.
Steele grew the business considerably with his Newcastle management team, largely former P&G executives, and was involved in a £63.4m management buy-out of its European operations in 2007.
And he continued to oversee its expansion as Attends Healthcare, which was funded by its new owners Rutland Partners.
Domtar has confirmed that Steele would continue to run the operation after its purchase from Rutland and grow it into one of the biggest brands in Europe.
Steele’s management team, which includes COO Tim Sale, who previously worked at Hartlepool-based Stadium Group, and CFO Andy Biggs. The team at Dickinson Dees was led by corporate partner Tom Fitzpatrick.
Sale said: “Dickinson Dees helped us with Rutland’s investment back in 2007 and the associated exit from 3i. When Domtar approached us with a view to buying the business, we knew Tom’s team would help us achieve a good deal.”
Tom Fitzpatrick of Dickinson Dees added: “We first came across James and his team when 3i invested in 2002 and managed the Rutland deal in 2002 on their behalf. It was great to help them achieve a fantastic result on their investment and deliver a platform for future growth.”
Montreal-based Domtar, which has a market cap of more than £2bn, plans to double its earnings within the next five years as demand for incontinence care products in Europe grows.
Domtar president and CEO John D Williams said: “The acquisition of Attends Europe moves us further along the path we started down last summer and it consolidates our ownership of the Attends brand on both sides of the Atlantic.”