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GP Investments Buys Stake in Switzerland’s Apen

GP Investments Ltd., Latin America’s largest private-equity fund, agreed to pay $33 million for a 26.7 percent stake in Apen AG as it seeks to expand in emerging markets.

The deal makes GP the biggest shareholder in Zug, Switzerland-based Apen and gives it control of the firm’s management, the fund said today in an e-mailed statement. Newbury Partners LLC and Fortress Investment Group LLC will invest $214 million as part of the transaction and each will receive a 13.4 percent stake, GP said.

“This is a very financially attractive deal with a discount of almost 50 percent in the net asset value,” GP co-Chief Executive Officer Antonio Bonchristiano said in a telephone interview.

GP, Newbury and Fortress will buy American International Group Inc.’s stake and new shares, Bonchristiano said. The Swiss company, once known as AIG Private Equity, will invest in Asia, Latin America and possibly in Russia, Bonchristiano said.

GP was little changed at 4.52 reais in Sao Paulo yesterday. Apen gained 0.2 percent to 22 Swiss francs in Zurich. GP said it is paying 21.8 francs a share.

GP made five acquisitions in the past 12 months including a 30 percent stake in Grupo SBF SA, owner of sport retailer Centauro, for 450 million reais ($221 million) in November, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The fund also bought 2,000 telecom towers in Brazil for 503 million reais in September to create BR Towers.

GP will add $421 million in assets under management with today’s acquisition, according to the statement. The Hamilton, Bermuda-based firm said it will be responsible for Apen’s current and new portfolios.

GP was founded by Brazil’s richest person, Jorge Paulo Lemann, who sold his stake in 2004 to executive partners including Bonchristiano and co-CEO Fersen Lambranho.

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