OMERS Private Equity acquires Bionic from ECI Partners

OMERS Private Equity has acquired Bionic, a provider of essential energy, insurance, finance and connectivity services to UK SMEs from ECI Partners and its founders.

OMERS Private Equity has taken a majority stake in the Company, with the management team, led by Paul Galligan, CEO of Bionic, and ECI Partners and the founders investing alongside OMERS. OMERS Private Equity will provide resources and expertise to help drive the Company’s organic growth as well as further accelerate its strategic expansion through M&A.

Bionic made six acquisitions during ECI’s investment. ECI acquired Bionic in 2017 when it was still called Make it Cheaper.

ECI generated a return of 4.8x following their five-year partnership with Bionic. No other financial terms of the transaction were disclosed.

Founded in 2007, Bionic matches SME business owners with energy, insurance, connectivity, telecoms and commercial finance solutions from its platform of specially selected providers, suppliers and products. Leveraging a tech-enabled team and smart technology, the company offers end-to-end service – including comparison, switch management, customer service and renewals – that help business owners save time and money.

Jonathan Mussellwhite, Senior Managing Director and OMERS Head of European Private Equity, said: “As a leading technology-enabled services platform, Bionic’s high-quality digital-hybrid model, one that pairs smart technology with world class human service, is at the forefront of helping UK SMEs source their business essentials: energy, insurance, finance and connectivity. We are excited by the opportunity to bring OMERS track record of international and acquisitive growth to Bionic as we support Paul and the Bionic management team in the continued growth of the business.”

Paul Galligan, CEO of Bionic, said: “We are thrilled to partner with OMERS Private Equity, a deeply-experienced global investor, and to leverage the team’s expertise to further accelerate Bionic’s growth. From our very first meeting with OMERS it was clear there was a strong cultural alignment and passion for the customers we serve. We were well aware of OMERS long term commitment to its portfolio companies, and as an investor that is well-regarded for its steady buy and build approach, we look forward to the team’s support in achieving our goals for continued strategic expansion through M&A.”

James Frankish, Managing Director, OMERS Private Equity Europe, said: “Bionic’s strong track record of acting as a strategic partner to the entrepreneurs active in the UK’s SME sector speaks for itself. As active investors and managers, we have been impressed by the Company’s ability to continually broaden its portfolio of services, as well as its commitment to further enhancing its already-robust customer service standards. We are eager to get to work with this high-growth business and to leverage OMERS evergreen capital and experience with strategic acquisitions to help Bionic achieve its goal of becoming the pre-eminent European market leader serving the needs of SMEs.”

UK, London

A Fusion deal: Powerful Allies sold to Zenergi

Powerful Allies Limited, a leading provider of 100% renewable electricity contracts for schools and businesses, has been sold to Zenergi, the energy and sustainability services provider backed by ECI Partners. The Fusion team was led by Paul Kelly, Director at Fusion. The terms of the deals were not disclosed.

Powerful Allies was founded nearly 10 years ago by James Robson, who wanted to “make things better” and be a truly trusted partner for clients needing energy supply support.

Powerful Allies currently supports a number of customers in different sectors, including over 130 leading independent schools and 170 single and multi-site Academies across the UK, providing services including energy cost and carbon emission reduction strategies, energy consumption monitoring and reporting, and LED and Solar PV solutions.

James Robson, founder of Powerful Allies, said, “I founded Powerful Allies ten years ago to give customers more transparency, clarity and honesty around their energy contracts. I am delighted that as part of Zenergi we will be able to reach more customers and support the movement towards a greener future. I look forward to working with Graham and the Zenergi team to deliver on that ambition”.

Paul Kelly, Director at Fusion Corporate Partners said: “It has been a pleasure working with James. He has a great team at Powerful Allies and has achieved exceptional success, and with their overlapping customer base, the fit with Zenergi is excellent. I wish them every success.

The acquisition is the second acquisition undertaken following ECI’s investment in Zenergi in February 2022. In March the business acquired DB Group, enabling Zenergi to grow its regional presence and support customers in Scotland.

Graham Cooke, CEO of Zenergi, said, “As we all move to a greener future, Powerful Allies is a natural fit for the Zenergi offering – the firm’s ethos, focus on renewables and clear strength in customer service match our core values as an organisation. The firm’s own Open Competition Charter is a standout example of how they really care for and empower their clients. We are all looking forward to welcoming James and the team and seeing what we can achieve together”.

Powerful Allies will continue to trade under its own brand as part of the Zenergi group for the immediate future.

UK, Southampton & UK, Bishops Cannings, Devizes

A Fusion deal: Worldwide Legal Research sold to Law Business Research

Worldwide Legal Research, trading as LegalMonitor, a research company headquartered in London, has been sold to Law Business Research Ltd, a portfolio company of Levine Leichtman Capital Partners VI, LP (LLCP). Fusion Corporate Partners acted as corporate advisor for Worldwide Legal Research. The Fusion team was led by Paul Slight, Director at Fusion. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Law Business Research (LBR) is a technology-enabled information services business powering the global legal industry with intelligence, analytics and performance data.  LegalMonitor is the most accurate database of over 260,000 lawyers, incorporating artificial intelligence, advanced search and visual analytics.

David Kekwick, Executive Director of LegalMonitor, noted, “The combination of our data platform and LBR is an exciting one. LBR brings access to the operational tools and experience we need to scale plus significant marketplace access. We will be able to accelerate investment in our platform and ensure ongoing product evolution.”

Paul Slight commented, “This is second time round for David Kekwick and Fusion having previously worked on the sale of David’s first business to Wilmington circa 10 years ago. The fit with Law Business Research in this instance is clear and will only enhance Legal Monitor’s market leading products for legal recruiters globally.”

Nick Brailey, CEO of Law Business Research, said, “Law Business Research and LegalMonitor both provide data-driven, technology-enabled, subscription platforms that naturally complement each other. LegalMonitor brings a significant database, insight into the global legal market and additional technology capabilities. Our combined research will map the known universe of lawyers and tie together datasets to fulfil more use cases. This will benefit our entire portfolio of client solutions and represents a continuation of our strategy of delivering technology-enabled content by adding a highly relevant data asset to our business. I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome the Legal Monitor team to LBR and I look forward to seeing what we can achieve together”.

UK, London

ECI Partners acquire Zenergi from August Equity

Mid-market private equity firm ECI Partners has acquired Zenergi, an energy procurement and sustainability services provider, from August Equity. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Zenergi supports organisations across the UK with their energy renewals, legislation and carbon reporting, identifying ways they can reduce their energy use, and leading energy efficiency and renewable projects. Founded in 2003, the company focuses on the education, healthcare and social housing sectors. August Equity invested in Zenergi in 2017, and since 2018 the company has completed five acquisitions.

Richard Chapman, Partner at ECI, said, “Zenergi does a fantastic job supporting institutions with increasingly complex energy needs, and we look forward to working with Graham (Cooke) and the management team to deliver both organic growth and further M&A in this space. In the current energy market climate and wider environmental considerations, we expect customers to increasingly look to market experts such as Zenergi to help them find solutions. We’re delighted to partner with the team for the next stage of their journey.”

According to their website, ECI’s investment represents an exit for August Equity generating a return of 5.3x.

Mike Biddulph, Partner at August Equity said: “It has been an absolute privilege to partner with Graham Cooke and the management team over the last four years. Zenergi is another great example of us building scale with service driven businesses in secular growth markets and working with exceptional entrepreneurs, to create quality businesses with high strategic value.”

UK, London

IBM acquires environmental performance management company Envizi

IBM has acquired Envizi, a data and analytics software provider for environmental performance management. The acquisition closed on January 11, 2022. Financial details were not disclosed.

Companies are under mounting pressure from regulators, investors, and consumers to progress toward more sustainable and socially responsible business operations – and to demonstrate these measures in a robust and verifiable way. In fact, corporate social responsibility and environmental sustainability risks tied as the third highest concerns for organizations, as ranked by large corporations in a 2021 Forrester report. However, the various types of data companies need to understand and report on sustainability initiatives remains highly fragmented and difficult for all relevant parties to access.

Envizi’s software automates the collection and consolidation of more than 500 data types and supports major sustainability reporting frameworks. Its user-friendly and easily customised dashboards enable companies to analyse, manage and report on environmental goals, identify efficiency opportunities and assess sustainability risk. Envizi’s solutions help streamline the management of these tasks as part of broader Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting initiatives, while also providing users with valuable sustainability insights to inform business strategy.

Kareem Yusuf, PhD, General Manager, IBM AI Applications, said, “To drive real progress toward sustainability, companies need the ability to transform data into predictive insights that help them make more intelligent, actionable decisions every day. Envizi’s software provides companies with a single source of truth for analyzing and understanding emissions data across the full landscape of their business operations and dramatically accelerates IBM’s growing arsenal of AI technologies for helping businesses create more sustainable operations and supply chains.”

Available as a SaaS solution and running in multi-cloud environments, Envizi serves leading brands such as Microsoft, Qantas, CBRE, Uber, abrdn and Celestica, and its software can be applied to activities across a variety of industries.

USA, Armonk, NY & Australia, Eveleigh NSW

Schneider Electric acquires renewable energy platform Zeigo

Schneider Electric has acquired start-up climate-tech platform Zeigo. The acquisition will complement Schneider Electric’s portfolio of clean energy services and solutions and advance the company’s digital energy transformation ambitions. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Steve Wilhite, SVP for Schneider Electric’s Sustainable Business Division, said, “As the world’s largest advisor to corporations on renewable energy procurement, we know that speed and complexity are two of the barriers that keep some corporations out of the PPA market. By adding the Zeigo technology and team to our existing portfolio of services and solutions, we will be able to provide even greater value to our clients worldwide.”

Organisations face increasing pressure to decarbonise as climate risks and global ambitions for an equitable energy transition both accelerate. For the past 10 years, one of the most common and effective means for companies to begin to decarbonise has been utility-scale renewable energy power purchase agreements (PPAs). To date, organisations have voluntarily purchased more than 77 gigawatts of wind, solar, and geothermal power via PPA.

The demand for PPAs is expected to grow as net-zero ambitions accelerate globally. More than 2,000 companies have already joined the Science-based Targets Initiative with the intention of mapping their decarbonisation aspirations to a 1.5 degree Celsius global warming threshold. A further 300+ corporations have joined the Climate Group’s RE100, committing to achieve 100% renewable energy in their operations. Taken in total, these commitments have led Bloomberg New Energy Finance to predict a shortfall in corporate renewable energy of 269 terawatt-hours by 2030.

Renewable energy procurement is time-consuming and complicated, requiring significant expert evaluation of projects and risks alongside the satisfaction of stakeholders up to and including corporate boards. By combining Zeigo’s AI capabilities with its existing advisory services, Schneider Electric will deploy enhanced collaborative intelligence in the energy and environmental commodity procurement process.

France, Rueil-Malmaison & USA, Andover, MA & UK, London

GlobalData acquires LMC Automotive

GlobalData Plc has acquired LMCA Holdings Limited and LMCI Holdings Limited, which provide data, analytics, and insights of the Automotive and Agribusiness markets respectively. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

LMC Automotive is best known for its automotive markets forecast services, which extend to global databases of sales and production down to make, model and engine detail. LMC Automotive also runs industry conferences.

LMC International is an independent economic consulting firm specialising in global agricultural commodity and agribusiness sectors.

The acquisitions, follow on from the Life Sciences acquisition earlier this year and will be funded through existing facilities.

Commenting on the acquisitions Mike Danson, Chief Executive Officer, said: “The Automotive and Agribusiness acquisitions represent strategic bolt-ons and the high quality gold standard content adds depth and further breadth to our intelligence offering. Our confidence in the success of these additions, as well as future M&A, is underpinned by the advantage of our One Platform model. It provides multiple levers for realizing synergies, as well as the ability to enhance product capabilities. The additions allow us to demonstrate the capability of our platform to new clients, as well as leveraging the operating efficiencies of scale.”

Uk, London

IMServ to be sold by Schneider Electric to Blue Water Energy

IMServ Europe Limited has announced to customers that their owners, Schneider Electric, have signed an agreement with Blue Water Energy LLP for the sale of IMServ.

Bluewater is a London-based middle-market private equity firm, specialising in the energy sector.

IMServ is a provider of metering and data services to the energy market and has around 525 employees, primarily in the UK.

The date of the closing, should be effective in Q3 2021.

More details to follow.

UK, London & UK, Milton Keynes & France, Rueil-Malmaison

BidEnergy acquires Optima Energy Systems

BidEnergy, an Australian company which provides Utility Bid Expense Management Solutions in Australia, the UK and the USA, has acquired energy management software business Optima Energy Systems, a Skipton, UK-based energy management software business providing: bill validation, budgets and accruals, and tenant and self-billing.

Terms of the transaction

Bid is paying £5.4 million for Optima, plus a conditional Deferred Payment as follows:

  • £3.2 million, payable in cash upfront
  • 3.384 million Bid shares are to be issued to Optima vendors at an issue price of A$1.16 per share (~A$3.9m)
  • Shares will be subject to escrow as follows
    • 25% – 9 months from completion
    • 50% – 12 months from completion
    • 25% – 15 months from completion
  • A Deferred Payment, payable in cash, subject to Optima achieving certain performance milestones regarding revenue and costs within the year following the Completion Date
  • The “Deferred Payment” has two components:
    • A £250,000 payment on achievement of certain recurring cost reductions prior to 31 March 2021; and
    • A payment based on recurring run rate revenues achieved in the Optima business in the 12 months following completion (Bid has provisioned for a payment of F750,000, but the payment could be higher or lower).
  • Steve Wright, Optima’s Managing Director will remain engaged by Optima for at least 12 months, with the potential for a consultancy arrangement thereafter.

The transaction terms value Optima at a multiple of 2.9 times FY20 revenue.

The Optima acquisition adds a further A$3.4m1 to Bid’s annualised subscription revenue, taking overall expected group earnings to A$17.9m as at Nov. 2020

Optima was established in 1998 and has 127 full time employees. In the year to 31 March 2020 Optima had unaudited revenue of £2.18 million and was EBITDA positive (figure not disclosed). The company directly manages energy data for 51 clients, who in turn are responsible for 196,400+ meters under management across the UK. Clients are multi-site MNCs, TPI/Brokers, property management agents, etc

Bid already had a long term relationship with Optima, having provided data collection services to support a limited part of their core business.

Full transaction details here

Australia, Melbourne and UK, Yorkshire

eEnergy Group plc to acquire Beond Group

eEnergy Group plc is to acquire Beond Group Limited, a UK renewable energy consulting and procurement business.

Beond, based in West London, helps its clients to transition to the lowest cost zero carbon energy available in the market. Working with small businesses to large corporates and public sector organisations it runs competitive reverse auctions through its proprietary technology. This ensures that its clients have access to the lowest prices across the market while achieving their net zero energy ambitions. It offers a Risk Managed service for clients that wish to have access to the energy wholesale markets and implements hedging strategies to help protect against rising market prices.

The total consideration for the Acquisition (which includes £0.7 million of surplus cash in the business) comprises approximately £2.4 million in cash and the issue of 64,948,456 consideration shares.

For the year to 31 December 2019, Beond’s revenue grew 10.5% to £3.3 million, with EBITDA of approximately £0.5 million at a margin of 14.1%;

eEnergy Group expects Beond to generate:

  • revenue growth at an annual average rate of 22% from the year to 31 December 2020 to 31 December 2022
  • base case EBITDA for the year to 31 December 2021 of approximately £0.8 million;
  • EBITDA margin improvement from 14% for the year to 31 December 2019 to 28% for the year to 31 December 2022;

The cash component will be funded through a placing of a minimum of £3.0 million to new and existing institutional and other investors, at a Placing Price of 10.0 pence per placing share.

CEO of Beond, Derek Myers, is expected to join the Board of eEnergy on completion of the acquisition.

An integration team, led by new (non-Board) Chief Operating Officer, Robert Van Leeuwen, is expected to work closely with the Beond management team and oversee initiatives to accelerate growth.

Harvey Sinclair, CEO of eEnergy, commented: 

“The acquisition of Beond is the next step in our journey to delivering a sustainable future for our clients. Beond’s, a climate action business, leverages award-winning technology to secure the best zero carbon energy supply for their customers. With a focus on energy management, their technology will add significant value to eEnergy’s existing client base by helping to make ‘Net Zero’ a reality. Beond’s platform is one of a very small number of specialised reverse auction technologies available to customers, securing the best priced zero carbon energy through a highly competitive auction process. 

eEnergy, listed on AIM, is the parent company of eLight and RSL, which help businesses and schools switch to energy-efficient LED.

UK, London