East Anglian audi-visual business snaps up 80% stake in Italian distributor for £11.7m

Stephen Fenby, managing director of Midwich in Diss Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

Stephen Fenby, managing director of Midwich in Diss Picture: SONYA DUNCAN - Credit: Eastern Daily Press � 2016

A growing East Anglian audio-visual firm has taken a majority stake in an Italian distributor.

Diss-based £570m turnover distributor Midwich has acquired an 80% share in Prase Engineering, which is based near Venice, for an initial cash payment of £6.1m, followed by £5.6m over the next two years.

The £17.9m turnover firm was founded in 1993 by Alberto and Ennio Prase, both of whom will continue to run the business, with Ennio as managing director and Alberto as sales director. Both will remain on the Prase board of directors.

MORE - More east businesses look to cut jobs as uncertainty dents confidencePrase, a specialist audio and visual distributor, operates with high-end specialist brands, such as Shure and Biamp, and more recently added key video brands Epson and LG to its portfolio.

The acquisition marks Midwich’s entry into Italy, a territory it has identified as key to its international expansion. The firm, which employs more than 800 staff across the UK and Ireland, Europe and Asia, says it aims to grow its operations through a combination of organic development and selective acquisitions.

Midwich Group managing director Stephen Fenby said: “We are delighted to welcome Ennio, Alberto and the Prase team to the Midwich Group.

“The company has a very strong reputation, not only in Italy, but also in the European AV market as a whole. As the market leading professional audio distributor in Italy, Prase has an excellent portfolio of vendor partners and a broad customer base which it services with an extensive range of value add support.

“This acquisition adds to the group’s already formidable capability in the European professional and installation audio sectors. We believe that with the acquisition of Prase, Midwich now has a presence in countries representing over 80% of the European AV market.”

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Ennio Prase said: “When we were approached by the Midwich team, we quickly saw the benefits of being a part of the group, and were particularly excited about joining a business with a focus on specialist, value-add distribution. Using the expertise and resources of Midwich, this new relationship will allow us to further accelerate Prase’s growth. Alberto and I are delighted to be joining the Midwich Group and are very much looking forward to working with our new colleagues.”

Options are in place to enable the group to purchase the remaining 20% of the company in three years’ time or later, based on the financial performance of the company.