A national telecoms infrastructure business employing a workforce of more than 440 has undergone a management buyout (MBO) backed by Equistone Partners.
WHP Telecoms is a provider of services for the planning, design, acquisition, deployment, upgrade and maintenance of mobile network masts. The business is headquartered in Warrington and also has sites in Leeds, Glasgow, Birmingham and Heathrow. It is forecasting revenues of £75m for the year to May 2018.
In 2015, WHP secured investment from private equity firm Palatine and has since grown significantly. Equistone will now take a majority stake in the business, with the deal following the close of its €2.8bn Fund VI.
Palatine has achieved a 3x return on its initial investment and will co-invest for a minority stake alongside Equistone and the management team, which continues to be led by chief executive Rob Potter.
Partner at Equistone Steve O’Hare and investment directors Andi Tomkinson and Seb Leusch led the transaction. The latter two will join the WHP board as non-executive directors.
Tomkinson said: “WHP is the clear market leader in both scale and breadth of services and has demonstrated strong growth during the past few years. The business is exceptionally well placed for continued organic growth and we will also look at strategic acquisition opportunities over the coming months.”
Potter added: “The UK telecoms market is performing strongly, with continued investment in networks. During this time, we have invested in our highly skilled team and infrastructure in order to deliver excellent quality, efficiency and value to our customers.
“I very much look forward to working with Equistone to further develop our offering – delivering innovation with a focus on high levels of service. We would also like to take this opportunity to thank Palatine for the support they have provided so far, and we look forward to continuing our work with them as we take our business to the next chapter.”
Andy Lees, partner at Palatine Private Equity, praised the business for capitalising on the “continued investment in the telecoms sector”, leaving it “firmly positioned as a market-leading player”.
A team at Clearwater International led by Mike Reeves provided corporate finance and debt advice, with Chris Heatlie at BDO providing financial due diligence and Charles Murray at Analysys Mason providing commercial due diligence.
Paul Medlicott and Jemma Clarke at Addleshaw Goddard provided legal advice to Equistone, while Nick Hatton and Seema Ahmedabadi from PwC provided tax advice.
The management team was advised by Convex and Mills & Reeve and Gregg Davison at Pinsent Masons.