TPG Plans UniTrust Exit, Deal Could Yield Four Times Return

Global private-equity firm TPG is looking to exit Chinese equipment leasing company, UniTrust Finance & Leasing Corp., in a potentially profitable trade sale.

Founded in 2004, Shanghai-based UniTrust could be valued at more than US$800 million. TPG first acquired 50% of UniTrust in 2008 at the depth of the financial crisis. In a complicated deal, TPG spent US$288 million to acquire over 40% of NIS Group, a Japanese financial services company focused on small and medium enterprises. The deal also gave TPG a 50% stake of UniTrust, then a subsidiary of NIS Group.

If TPG succeeds in completing a sale of UniTrust at its estimated valuation, it could mean a roughly four-times return during a five-year investment period.

It would also be an example of how private equity firms can still achieve outstanding returns even when the IPO market is still unwelcoming.

Potential buyers of UniTrust include international strategic and financial buyers.

If successful, this will also be TPG’s big exit after a long drought. TPG last exited a Chinese portfolio company in 2010 when it sold its stake in Ping An Insurance (Group) Co.

UniTrust provides equipment financing for small and medium enterprises across construction, printing, textiles, IT and technology, medical, and production, in partnership with equipment vendors.

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