Flemish captains of industry sell cable trays to Atkore

28 September 2018 - De Tijd

Pentahold sells cable duct producer Vergokan to its sector competitor Atkore. Behind the investment company are entrepreneurs such as Filip Balcaen (ex-Balta), Philippe Vlerick (UCO) and Paul Thiers (ex-Unilin).

Vergokan makes cable and wire ducts, cable ladders and floor duct systems. The East Flemish company is the Belgian market leader in rails and gutters in which cables are bundled. Since 2008, the investment company Pentahold has owned the company. At the beginning of this year she put Vergokan in the window. The sale is now sealed. The buyer is Vergokan’s listed sector partner Atkore. It is not known how much the American group is putting on the table.

Atkore, good for a market value of 1.2 billion dollars (1 billion euros), with a turnover of 1.5 billion dollars, is many times larger than Vergokan. The American group has 58 production and distribution sites worldwide. “The acquisition will give us a solid foothold in Europe and strengthen our portfolio of cable management products,” said Atkore manager Mike Schulte.
Vergokan has a turnover of 35 million euros and a gross operating profit (EBITDA) of 6.5 million. It makes its cable tray systems in Oudenaarde and Redkino, Russia. As a ‘local’ company, Vergokan benefits from the establishment in Russia from the ‘import substitution’ that Moscow introduced after the Western sanctions and the economic crisis. This rule states that local companies must produce as many goods as possible themselves instead of importing them.

The company from Oudenaarde also played a role in the World Cup last summer in Russia. It installed complete cable support structures in seven football temples where the competition was played.

For a long time Vergokan was owned by PST Invest, the holding company of the Vergalle-Van Maercke family. Until 2008 Pentahold became the new owner. It was the investment company’s second investment, which had recently been launched by five entrepreneurs: Filip Balcaen (ex-owner Balta), Edmond Müller (ex-CEO Les Moulins de Kleinbettingen), Paul Thiers (ex-CEO Unilin and chairman Deceuninck), Marc Saverys (shipping company CMB) and Philippe Vlerick (top man UCO Textiles, vice-chairman KBC). Saverys was replaced in 2014 by Theo Roussis, the strongman of the plastics group Ravago.

Shortly after Pentahold’s entry, Peter Leyman became CEO of Vergokan. After his departure from the car manufacturer Volvo Ghent and a sidestep in politics, he was at the helm for a year and a half.

He left Vergokan for the position of CEO at the employers’ organization Voka.

Source: De Tijd (28/09/2018)