Newport insurance group completes management buyout with help from Bristol advisors

May 17, 2019

Bristol corporate finance and legal expertise has helped a South Wales insurance broker with strong links to the city complete a management buyout and prepare for international growth.

Bristol-based boutique corporate finance firm Momentum provided the lead financial advice for the MBO of Newport-headquartered Acquis, while a team from the Bristol head office of national law firm TLT provided legal advice to its shareholders. 

The MBO was backed by Dunedin, the UK mid-market private equity house. HSBC provided senior debt and a revolving credit facility to Acquis, which provides specialist insurance services to the finance and leasing industry.

The deal enables the current management team, led by Bristol-based CEO Nick Leader, to drive the business’ international growth with support and funding from Dunedin.

Momentum structured the deal between vendors, management and investor, from inception to completion, advising on all aspects of the buy side funding.

Founded in 2009, Acquis provides leasing companies with insurance for leased equipment and is currently placing insurance in thirteen countries across Europe. Blue-chip clients include Investec Asset Finance, BNP Paribas Leasing Solutions, Siemens Financial Services, Société Générale Equipment Finance and Deutsche Leasing. The company employs 38 people.

Following Dunedin’s investment, Acquis plans to grow its team and expand into new markets, particularly in Europe where the business has recently opened an office in the Netherlands. Acquis will also invest in developing new products to meet a broader range of client needs.

Dunedin partner Oliver Bevan, who will join the Acquis board, said: “We really look forward to working with Nick and the team at Acquis and see huge potential for the growth of the business, particularly as it expands further into Europe and beyond.

“Acquis is already the clear UK and European leader in its niche and is well placed to build on its position at the forefront of this fast-growing market. Dunedin has a strong record of investing in specialist insurance and we look forward to drawing on that experience to support Acquis’ ambitious growth plans.

We thoroughly enjoyed working with Momentum throughout the transaction – they were a key part of the buy side advisory team – driving the deal from inception through to completion. MBOs are complex transactions and Momentum’s ability to apply senior resource throughout the deal made a real difference.”

Acquis CEO Nick Leader added: “Momentum were an invaluable part of our team, guiding us through every step of the MBO process. From the agreement of the deal with the vendors through to partnering with Dunedin they were with us every step of the way. The level of service and quality of advice was first class.”

Momentum partner Rob Crews said the firm had been delighted to have been involved from the initial structuring of the deal through the whole deal process.

“This is a good news story all round, showing that MBOs can represent a smooth exit for vendors while at the same time priming the company for further profitable growth,” he said.

TLT’s team was led by corporate partner Alice Gardner alongside solicitor Luke Thorngate-Davies, legal assistant Rachel Kelly and corporate tax legal director Mark Braude.

It completed the sale process – which is subject to regulatory approval – from start to finish, protecting shareholder value throughout the transaction and working closely with the other parties and their advisers to deliver a smooth and successful outcome for the shareholders of Acquis.

Acquis founding directors John Chadwick, Andy Hobby and Nick Hunt said that TLT had an in-depth understanding of the market Acquis operates in

“[They] advised on all aspects of the buyout delivering a fantastic outcome to all the different parties involved. Alice and the TLT team gave us clear and pragmatic advice at every turn of the transaction,” the directors said.

TLT partner Alice Gardner said: “Despite the continued uncertainty of Brexit, the private equity market is still very active in investing in strong companies and management teams like Acquis. It has been a pleasure to advise the selling shareholders on this process enabling Acquis to accelerate its international expansion plans.”

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