Infopro Digital to acquire B2B publisher DOCUgroup

InfoPro DigitalInfopro Digital group is to enter into the acquisition of DOCUgroup, taking a major step in its international expansion. The acquisition will be financed with additional indebtedness, available cash on hand at the group level and an equity contribution from the shareholders of Infopro Digital group. The majority shareholder of Infopro Digital, alongside management of the group, is TowerBrook. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

DOCUgroup is a leader in Germany, Austria and Switzerland in business information for the construction, architecture and real estate industries.

DOCUgroup has two main activities: Project Information, whose flagship brand is IBAU, an online subscription platform that references almost 1 million private and public real estate projects; and Product Information, with leading brands such as Heinze and Baunetz, which are digital platforms that enable architects and planners to access databases and detailed information for over 500,000 products. These platforms attract around 15 million online visits each year.

Infopro Digital also offers services to professionals in the building industry in France, Belgium and the Netherlands through Le Moniteur and Vecteur Plus.

Over 500 employees will join the Infopro Digital group, to bring the total to more than 3,200 people worldwide. DOCUgroup generates a turnover of 67 million EUR, which will allow Infopro Digital to reach a turnover of approximately 440 million EUR once the acquisition is completed.

Christophe Czajka, Executive Chairman of Infopro Digital, said,“With the acquisition of DOCUgroup, we become a truly European BtB and Data company. The share of our turnover generated outside of France increased from 14% to 35% in less than a year. Over 1,300 group employees will be based in Germany, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Belgium, Portugal, Austria, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, the United States, Hong Kong, and Tunisia.”

Julien Elmaleh, CEO of Infopro Digital, added, “The DOCUgroup DNA fits perfectly with that of Infopro Digital: databases and digital platforms allowing professionals to develop their commercial activity and have detailed and high quality business information. Combined, we will have an unmatched offer for professionals in the building industry”.

France, Ile-de-France & Germany, Munich

Sovereign Capital Partners backs MBO of Utility Bidders

utility bidderPrivate Equity Buy & Build specialist Sovereign Capital Partners has backed the management buy-out of Utility Bidder, an energy broker, offering energy procurement services to UK, SME customers.  The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Founded in 2009, and headquartered in Corby, Utility Bidder employs around 100 staff and has a sales office in Manchester. The company currently brokers energy and other utilities contracts to over 14,500 SME clients across a number of industry sectors in the UK.

sovereignUtility Bidder has performed strongly growing sales by over 40% in the current year. The team is led by an CEO, Chris Shaw; Sovereign has augmented the management team with the appointment of Mark Wood, formerly CEO of Axa UK, as non-executive Chairman. Founders James Longley and Sally Martin remain with the business, James as Utility Bidder’s MD.

Jeremy Morgan, Partner at Sovereign, said, “We are very pleased to be supporting this business and strong management team in what is a burgeoning market. Utility Bidder has already achieved tremendous success and enjoys established relationships with both its SME customer base and its energy suppliers.  We look forward to working with Chris and the team to help take this top ranked energy broker to the next stage of growth.”

UK, London & Corby, Northamptonshire

Inspired Energy acquires Professional Cost Management Group

inspired-logo3Inspired Energy, an energy procurement consultant to UK and Irish businesses, has acquired Professional Cost Management Group Limited (“PCMG”), a national cost recovery specialist, for up to £700,000Inspired Energy is making an initial cash payment of £150,000, with a potential further £550,000 subject to the achievement of targets based on future EBITDA performance. 

For the financial year ended 31 December 2017, PCMG had revenues of £2.84 million, EBITDA of £(0.17) million, and a net loss of £(0.19) million. Net assets as at 31 December 2017 stood at £0.7 million.

PCMG provides a forensic auditing service to identify and recover overpayments of utilities and telecoms bills on behalf of its clients and provides optimisation analysis to enable customers to improve their tariff and billing structure. The company was founded in 1993 and was acquired by Alma Consulting Group SAS (a subsidiary of the French Ayming Group) in March 2008.

The Managing Director of PCMG will remain with the enlarged Group after completion and Inspired Energy intends to incentivise the Managing Director and other key employees of PCMG by granting share options in the Group following completion. PCMG is based in Blackpool. The business will be relocated to Inspired Energy’s Kirkham head office on expiry of the current lease that runs to November 2018.

Commenting on the acquisition, Mark Dickinson, CEO of Inspired said: “We are delighted to conclude the acquisition of PCMG, which is a highly complementary addition to Inspired’s core Corporate Division. The PCMG team and brand are well respected within the sector.”

UK, Kirkham, Lancashire and Blackpool, Lancashire

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LDC backs Love Energy

LDCPrivate equity investor LDC has invested more than £25m in Love Energy Savings, an energy price comparison specialist, in a secondary buyout of the business.  The deal also marks a partial exit for NVM Private Equity, which first backed the business in September 2015.

Founded in 2007 and headquartered in Bolton, Love Energy specialises in the comparison of business energy prices. It connects small and medium-sized businesses with the UK energy supplier that offers the most appropriate gas and electricity tariff, before helping its customers to switch provider.

Under the leadership of CEO and co-founder Phil Foster, Love Energy has grown rapidly. For the financial year ending 31 December 2017 it recorded revenues of £17.4m (2016: £13.2m) and today supports more than 40,000 customers nationwide.

LDC’s investment will enable Foster and his team to accelerate their organic growth strategy. This will include the expansion of Love Energy Solutions, its corporate services division which supports major energy users across the industrial and commercial sector, further investment in its proprietary technology platforms and continued diversification into the water telecoms and insurance markets.

The transaction was led by Richard Ibbett and Jonathan Bell at LDC in Manchester, with support from Dan Gluckman at LDC in London. Jonathan and Richard will both join the board as non-executive directors.

As part of the deal, Steve Weller will also join the board as non-executive chairman. Weller has more than 10 years’ experience driving growth at technology-led businesses and was CEO of the energy switching service uSwitch until July 2018, where he worked closely with LDC during its support of the business between 2013 and 2015.

Richard Ibbett, investment director at LDC in Manchester, said: “Love Energy Savings is a fantastic business with an entrepreneurial, ambitious management team at the helm. Under Phil’s stewardship, it has continued to invest in its offering and diversify to create scale, yet the quality of service it provides to customers, suppliers and intermediaries has never wavered. In a market that is crying out for transparency this has set the business apart and with a commitment to help save businesses money there is even further opportunity for growth. We’re looking forward to partnering with Phil and his team on the next phase of their journey.”

UK, Manchester & Bolton

Consortium to buy Dun & Bradstreet for $6.9BN

Dun & BradstreetAn investor group led by CC Capital, Cannae Holdings and funds affiliated with Thomas H. Lee Partners LP is to acquire financial services firm Dun & Bradstreet in a take-private deal valued at $5.4 billion, excluding debt.

Under the buyout agreement, shareholders of the 177-year-old Short Hills, N.J., financial-services company will receive $145 in cash for each share of common stock they own, Dun & Bradstreet said late Wednesday in a news release. That represents a premium of about 30% over its closing share price of $111.63 on Feb. 12, the last trading day before the company said it planned a strategic review of the business.

Thomas J. Manning, Dun & Bradstreet’s chief executive, said that the deal is the “culmination of a thoughtful and comprehensive review of the value creation opportunities available to the company as part of a full portfolio and business assessment and exploration of strategic alternatives with multiple financial sponsors”. Mr. Manning and James N. Fernandez, a director of the firm, will serve as CEO and chairman, respectively, through the deal’s closing, Dun & Bradstreet said.

The New York Stock Exchange-listed company will become privately held after the closing of the deal, which it values at $6.9 billion including the assumption of $1.5 billion of Dun & Bradstreet’s net debt and net pension obligations.

“As a private company, Dun & Bradstreet will be well positioned to reinvigorate growth and create increased value for all stakeholders,” said Thomas Hagerty, a managing director at private-equity firm Thomas H. Lee.

The deal will be financed through a combination of committed equity financing provided by the investor group, as well as debt financing that has been committed to by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citigroup Inc. and RBC Capital Markets, Dun & Bradstreet said.

Dun & Bradstreet said its board is unanimously recommending that shareholders vote to adopt the agreement a coming special meeting. The deal is expected to close within six months, subject to shareholder approval, regulatory and other customary conditions, Dun & Bradstreet said.

However, the agreement also provides for a 45-day “go-shop” period to draw more potential buyers, the company said.

Dun & Bradstreet said it would have the right to terminate the deal agreement to enter into a superior proposal subject to certain conditions and procedures.

JPMorgan is serving as financial adviser to the company. Financial advisers to the buyer include BofA Merrill Lynch, Citigroup and RBC Capital Markets, Dun & Bradstreet said.

The company has also released second-quarter earnings, saying it recorded net income of $93 million, or earnings per share of $2.50, on revenue of $439.6 million.

USA, Short Hills, NJ & New York, NY

Inspired Energy acquire Squareone Enterprises

inspired-logo3Inspired Energy has acquired Squareone Enterprises Limited in a deal worth up to in a £1.375 million. Squareone is a provider of energy procurement, energy management and water procurement services with a strong presence in the education and manufacturing sectors.

Inspired are paying £0.75 million in cash, plus an earn out of up to £0.625 million based on revenue targets for the 12 month periods ending 31 March 2019 and 2020.

In financial year ending March 2018, Squareone had revenues of £0.5 million, EBITDA of £0.25 million, and generated operating cash of £0.23 million. Net assets as at 31 March 2018 stood at £0.1 million.

Commenting on the acquisitions, Mark Dickinson, CEO of Inspired Energy said: “We are delighted to conclude the acquisition of Squareone, which is a highly complementary addition to Inspired’s core Corporate Division. The Squareone team are well respected within the sector, and were deservedly recognised as such at the 2018 Energy Live Consultancy Awards. The Acquisition further enhances our customer base and strengthens our sector specialisms.”

The business is based in Boldon, Tyne and Wear, close to the head office of Churchcom Limited, a company acquired by Inspired in April 2017. Michael Harkus, co-founder and Managing Director of Squareone, will remain with the Group after completion.

UK, Kirham, Lancashire & Boldon, Tyne and Wear

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GoCompare.com acquires energy switching specialist Energylinx for £10M

go-compare-logo-newGoCompare.com Group plc has acquired Energylinx for £10m in cash.

Energylinx is an energy comparison and switching specialist and has commercial relationships 69 domestic energy and 40 business energy suppliers. Customers include Which? and Citizens Advice Bureau. The company operates a white-label proposition, with around 200 active affiliates.

Matthew Crummack, CEO of GoCompare, said: “We are pleased to announce this acquisition, which marks yet another significant milestone for the Group as we continue to build services that work for both our customers and partners. Energylinx has an excellent reputation in the industry among energy suppliers and those who use its white-label services, and we will leverage our strong brand, tech and product capabilities to expand its reach and impact to help save even more people time and money.

Energylinx is headquartered in Alloa, Scotland and employs a team of 20 staff. Following completion, Ken Geddes, founder and CEO will join the Group.

UK, Wales, Newport & UK, Scotland, Alloa

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