UNW advises on perfect MBO
UNW has recently advised Perfect Image, a long-established and trusted end-to-end IT solutions provider, on a Management Buyout (MBO) that completed in May 2019. Chiltern Capital, a London-based private equity firm, provided financial support.
The organisation, headquartered at Cobalt Business Park in Newcastle, delivers IT solutions, services, and strategies to a variety of diverse and national clients. Taking a cloud-first approach, Perfect Image has achieved both service and technical excellence across its chosen markets. These include outsourced IT support, complex cloud and hybrid infrastructure services, and delivery of data visualisation and business analytics applications.
Perfect Image has expanded considerably since it was founded in 1991 by Andrew Robson. It now boasts a team of over 100 dedicated specialists that help to design and deliver its transformative services and solutions. With over 28 years of experience in transforming businesses using industry-leading technologies, the company has also partnered with several innovative and market-leading technology vendors, such as Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, and Qlik.
Prior to the Management Buyout, Perfect Image was majority-owned by Andrew Robson alongside its former Managing Director. It was completed by Rob Hankin, Chief Executive Officer, and Andy Smith, Sales and Marketing Director, who both started their careers with the company, in 2010 and 2008 respectively, and both had taken an active role in managing the business over the last few years. The MBO has given Rob and Andy the opportunity to continue building on their current success as owners of Perfect Image.
Speaking about the motivations behind selling the business and how the shareholders found the process, Andrew stated, “Having developed the company and its senior management team over the years, we were ready for a new challenge. We recognised that the current team had the ability and drive to take the company through the next stage of its journey, and that they had earned the right to do that. We were delighted to be able to support them in realising their ambitions through the Management Buyout.”
On the motivations behind selecting UNW to lead the deal, Andrew said, “After a pitching process, we knew that UNW were the right advisors for us. Not only was there a cultural fit, but John Healey and Gareth Phillips from their Corporate Finance team really took the time to do their research and understand our business. They also demonstrated extensive knowledge of the IT services sector and similar transactions that had completed in the marketplace.”
“The feeling that we could rely on their support through what we knew would be a difficult process really shone through compared to other advisors we spoke to,” Andrew adds. “They understood that while we wanted to keep our options open, that our preference was for an MBO. The team at UNW helped us to explore alternatives routes, and assisted us in identifying the best way forward. They understood our motivations and values, structured the process well, and made it very clear to us each step of the way.”
When the shareholders decided on an MBO transaction, John and Gareth identified a shortlist of private equity (PE) firms to financially sponsor the management team. Chiltern Capital, a London-based firm, was selected due to their sector focus and strong cultural fit.
Andrew said, “UNW were both fantastic in simplifying the process for us, and helping us comprehend what a PE house would be looking for. The expertise that they brought allowed us to identify firms to work with right away, and they were integral in the negotiations. They went above and beyond to understand us as individuals and guide us through the process and the deal structure. They knew what we wanted to achieve, and what our red lines were on the negotiation, to the point where Gareth was able to handle questions about our company to the PE firm without really having to refer back to us.”
Andrew remains at Perfect Image as a Non-Executive Director following the completion of the Management Buyout. Tom Kelly has also joined the board as the new chairman, bringing with him over 30 years of IT expertise. Together with Rob Hankin and Andy Smith, the board is completed by Thomas Holroyd and Mark Coronato from Chiltern Capital.
Looking to the future of Perfect Image, Andy Smith stated, “Our success has been built on our people and on the services we provide. The future of our business is in maintaining and improving that, by investing in our people and developing our expert teams. This investment will allow us to continue our ambitious growth plans, to improve service delivery for our customers, and to strengthen our market position with new and innovative products and services.”
Reflecting on what was critical to the success of the transaction, Andrew Robson said, “UNW provided a level of experience and financial knowledge that we, as a business, just didn’t have. Alongside that, it really felt like John and Gareth were heavily invested in the process. I couldn’t praise them highly enough. They got under the skin of the organisation and genuinely wanted a positive outcome and for this to happen as much as we did.”
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