LDI: An old dog with new tricks?

Saturday, February 28, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS--Liberty Diversified Industry (LDI), a 90-year-old portfolio management company whose main focus has been the paper and packaging industry, has set its sights on the healthcare industry, specifically patient mobility and independent living.

“It’s not that we’re in bad industries - we just wanted to get into new industries that had faster growth than those we’re currently in,” said Sam Rosen, director of new business development. “Also, we wanted more of an international reach.”

Attracted by aging demographics, LDI kicked off its foray into healthcare industry in September 2008, when it announced it had acquired Ergolet, a Danish manufacturer of patient mobility aids. Ergolet exhibited at Medtrade in October for the first time.

In the next few years, LDI plans to add one to three companies to its healthcare portfolio. It’s looking for companies that manufacture complementary products to Ergolet’s lifts, stand-aids, bath and toilet chairs, and track systems, Rosen said.

But “broken businesses” need not apply, he said.

“We’re not looking for turnarounds,” Rosen said. “We’re looking for small- to medium-sized companies with strong management. We’re intent on existing leadership being a core part of future leadership.”

LDI has kept the management at Ergolet in tact. It plans to infuse Ergolet with capital so it can crack the North American market.

“Usually, the companies that we look at and acquire are beginning to stall, because they don’t have the resources they need to take themselves to the next level,” Rosen said. “So we find ways, whether it’s expanding their reach or enhancing marketing, to achieve top-line growth.”