Compass exits Glendower, HarbourVest-backed lens manufacturer

Compass Partners built its position in Rodenstock via two direct secondaries transactions funded by secondaries buyers.

Compass Partners has exited a business it acquired with the backing of two secondaries firms.

The direct secondaries specialist sold German ophthalmic lens company Rodenstock to Apax Partners as part of a deal set to close mid-this year, according to a statement from the London-headquartered buyout shop.

Compass acquired a majority stake in Rodenstock in 2016 with backing from HarbourVest Partners, Secondaries Investor reported. The Boston-headquartered manager used its secondaries fund to back the acquisition of a portfolio of companies owned by Bridgepoint and managed them in partnership with Compass.

In July 2018, Compass acquired an additional minority stake in the business from Bridgepoint in a deal financed by Glendower Capital, which also provided “significant follow-on capital”, Secondaries Investor reported. It also acquired a minority position in educational publisher Infinitas and 100 percent of educational staffing firm Protocol.

“Rodenstock’s strategic refocus has already translated into strong performance in 2019 and 2020, despite the covid-19 pandemic, creating a robust foundation for future success,” said Apax partner Steve Dyson in the statement. The size and terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Compass acquires control- and minority equity positions, debt and other financial assets on a deal-by-deal basis and manages them to exit. It typically targets funds that are not yet in carry and which contain quality assets, and turns to secondaries buyers to fund the acquisitions, Secondaries Investor wrote in 2018.

“Every PE firm is a good seller and we don’t take it for granted that we’re going to get anything except a fair value, but there’s less emotion about the last dollar,” Compass partner Alister Wormsley told Secondaries Investor in 2018. “The assets we’ve bought, by and large, have been through several exit processes, might have been through a restructuring at some point, but they are typically decent businesses.”