Private equity player Active Capital is acquiring all shares of Germany-based Lieb, a former family-owned outfit specialized in precision transport and positioning, particularly for semiconductor machines. The company is also active in automation solutions for automotive, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, electrical engineering and plastics.
In recent years, Lieb has focused primarily on the semicon equipment market. At Semicon Europe 2022, it demonstrated various solutions, such as wafer handlers, load ports and pre-aligners. In Munich, the company also showed an equipment front-end module (EFEM), a subsystem that slides silicon slices back and forth at high speed and precision between ultrasonic storage and transport boxes and processing, measurement and testing systems. Lieb also develops and assembles fully integrated systems and machines.
“In the machine market for semicon, Lieb operates as an organization that carries out projects for OEMs,” says Johannes Sensmeyer, who’s involved with Lieb several days a week as an investment associate at Active Capital. “The company also develops modules for wafer quality analyses, integrating third-party measurement technologies,” he gives as an example.
Active Capital is a private equity investor in small and medium-sized companies in the Netherlands and Germany. It focuses on businesses with sales between 10 and 100 million euros. Previously, it also invested in Photonfirst. The Amsterdam-based company launched its German operations in 2019 with its investment in LED specialist Schahlled Lighting.
Sensmeyer, who’s located in Munich, says Active Capital is primarily looking for companies with growth potential. These are then actively supported, as he himself is currently doing with Lieb in the Bavarian town of Rödental. He notes that semicon has become more interesting for investors but that Active Capital isn’t specifically focusing on this market. “We’re concerned with companies that we see potential in and we can help grow,” Sensmeyer explains.
The Lieb family business was founded in 1955 by Werner Lieb. After he died in 1982, the company was continued by his son Dieter until 2006. The following year, he handed over management to his sons Steffen and Michael. The brothers will continue to act as general managers after the current transaction.