YFM exit Mangar Health generating a 2.7x return

14 December 2018

Another successful exit as YFM Equity Partners sells Mangar Health

YFM Equity Partners (“YFM”) has sold is stake in Mangar Health Limited for an undisclosed sum to Winncare Group Ltd’ a leading French medical device company, delivering a 2.7x return to investors.

Mangar Health designs, manufactures and supplies inflatable bathing and lifting devices, which protect carers from injury and promote independence for people with limited mobility. With a global reach into America, Canada and Australia, Mangar Health also offers a wide international distribution network and additional opportunities in healthcare markets such as emergency services.  The Company is led by CEO Simon Claridge and his team of Finance and Operations Director Craig Butcher, Commercial Director Andrew Macphail and Marketing Director Clare Birt.

YFM has been supporting the transformational growth of UK SMEs for over 35 years.  Mangar Health was backed by British Smaller Companies VCT plc and British Smaller Companies VCT2 plc, both advised by YFM, in a management buyout in 2014.  Over the period of YFM’s investment, employment has grown by almost 50% to more than 70 staff.  Today’s acquisition by Winncare Group provides a full exit for YFM’s funds and delivers a 2.7x return on investment (a 22% IRR).

Simon Claridge, CEO of Mangar Health, commented: “Mangar Health has expanded significantly since the YFM investment.  We appreciate their practical advice, strategic guidance and support in helping us fuel our continued growth over the past five years.  They have been terrific partners and played an important role in helping us achieve our success.”

Commenting on the realisation, Ian Waterfield, Partner at YFM stated: “This is another example of YFM identifying and backing a niche business with significant growth potential.  We have really enjoyed working with the Mangar Health management team, alongside chairman James Buckley, and we are sure that they will deliver further growth as part of the Winncare Group”.

For YFM, this success follows the recent sale of Indigo Telecom (a 4.2x return for investors).

YFM and the management team were advised by Christian Mayo, Stephen Leah and Joe Bainborough at KPMG and Pete Wood, Carly Gulliver and Caera Loughran at Addleshaw Goddard.

Christian Mayo, Head of Corporate Finance at KPMG in Yorkshire, said: “Mangar is a fantastic business that has really carved out a unique and enviable position in the healthcare products sector. The firm’s portfolio and international growth plans, coupled with the support of leading international operator Winncare, will provide a strong platform for expansion. The deal demonstrates the continued appetite from foreign buyers for quality UK businesses.”

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YFM exit Indigo-Belcom generating a 4.2x return

10 December 2018

Sale to secondary buyer delivers strong returns to investors

YFM Equity Partners (“YFM”) have exited their investment in Indigo-Belcom, to Growth Capital Partners, generating a return of 4.2x original cost to their funds.

YFM invested in the management buyout of Indigo Telecom in 2016, alongside Maven Capital Partners, and during the term of its investment supported the business with the strategic acquisition of Belcom247 in September 2017, together forming the enlarged Indigo-Belcom Group. Following the successful acquisition, revenues increased from £12 million to a forecast of over £30 million in the current year, with underlying profits increasing from £1.3 million to over £4 million.

South Wales based Indigo-Belcom designs, installs and maintains telecom networks across the globe, enabling customers such as Vodafone, Sky and BT to deliver fixed line, broadband, mobile and other data services to a wide variety of corporate, enterprise and consumer end users.

Indigo-Belcom’s senior executive team is led by CEO Stephen Thompson, who was previously Vice President of Sales at Technicolor and COO of Alcatel Lucent UK & Ireland. Under Stephen’s leadership, the business delivered strong organic and acquisitive growth with year-on-year increases in earnings performance, as well as a continual focus on operational efficiency and growth in long-term Managed Service revenues.

Stephen Thompson, CEO at Indigo-Belcom, added: “The business has grown tremendously in the last two years following the MBO. As well as the acquisition and integration of Belcom247, the Group has grown organically at an exceptional rate, expanded into new state of the art facilities and doubled headcount. It’s been an exciting period and we have welcomed the support and financial backing of both Maven and YFM during this time.”

Colin Granger, Partner at YFM, said: ““It has been a privilege to work alongside the senior team at Indigo-Belcom and be part of the growth journey over the last two years. Indigo is a great case study of the types of businesses and management teams we look to back at YFM. Finally, we would like to thank everyone at Indigo-Belcom for all of their hard work and wish everyone at the company all the very best for the future.”

The exit is the first from YFM’s debut buyout fund which only closed in May 2017 at £46m, delivering a strong early return to investors.

 

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Tables and Chairs

Nigel Owens
Partner, YFM Equity Partners

If you’ve been out equity fund-raising, for a growth capital investment or a management buyout, you’ll have heard this before – “…and we always appoint an independent chair or non-exec as part of our investment”.

Why do funders do that?  And why would you want a non-exec at your board room table?

At YFM we make growth capital investments into businesses that are scaling up.  We also support the ownership transition of more established profitable businesses, and yes, at the time we make the investment we usually like the business to appoint an independent chair or non-exec.  I can’t speak for why other investors do it, but this is what I’ve learned over thirteen years of investing:

  1. It’s lonely at the top. 
    Almost all businesses above a certain size have a management team and most teams have a leader.  The leader can find that the experience is hugely empowering and fulfilling, but even the most outwardly confident will confess to moments of doubt about particular issues when it would be good to have a mentor in support.A quick story – I have a friend who is the MD of a fast-growing business – one without external shareholders.  Five years ago, she hired a “a part-time boss” – someone who mentored her but also held her to account for achieving her own plans.  I thought that was a brave decision.   But because she got to choose her “boss” she hired a really good one.  And her decision paid off –  half-hearted plans got improved, good ideas got lots of encouragement and there was an unexpected benefit.  My friend took her boss along to a pitch for a good project with a prestigious client.  Hearing of the attendance of “the boss”, the client brought their manager in too.  The MD’s hired “superior” didn’t have to say much but brought experience and gravitas.  Result:  higher level access, quicker decision, successful pitch.  Sometimes it pays to have someone else on your team.
  2. Journey experience
    Most people who have grown a business of any scale will tell you that it’s the new challenges that can trip you up – hiring your first employee is a big step for some, setting the commission structure for sales people for the very first time can be daunting. And the first time you buy another business, the learning curve can be huge.  As a consequence, entrepreneurs learn on the hoof – they have to.  But, having a chair who has actually done the journey before – growing a business from twenty people to a hundred people for example – can be invaluable.
  3. Filling the gaps
    Fast scaling businesses will often need to add specialist skills to their management team – a finance director or a properly strategic sales and marketing manager are common examples.  We sometimes find that the chairman can bring some of those skills in to play early, get the basic strategy set and then help the CEO recruit the right person to take the business forward.

The vital bit is  chemistry.  No matter how impressive the CV, what the journey experience or specialist skills, the team has to be able to work with the chair.  We’ve made over a hundred investments in the past 35 years and we know that if we get the chair role right then everybody wins.

 

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YFM team completes the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge

12 November 2018

Last month a team from YFM Equity Partners tackled the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge in aid of some of our favourite charities.

The circular route scales the three highest peaks in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (Pen-Y-Ghent, Ingleborough and Whernside) and includes 1500m of ascent. The aim of the challenge is to cover the 25 mile hike within 12 hours. The group set out in the dark at 6.30am, with headtorches for the ascent of Pen-Y-Ghent. And, despite the Yorkshire weather and some footwear issues, we are proud to say that all 12 members of the YFM team made it back to Horton in Ribblesdale in the allotted time!

By completing the challenge, the YFM team raised almost £10,000 in sponsorship. This has been donated to a number of local and national charities including MIND, Macmillan, Cancer Research UK and Women’s Aid.

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Preparing for a Series A funding round

Adam Hart
Investment Manager, YFM Equity Partners

After taking an idea from concept to reality – a journey that has perhaps seen numerous hiccups, borrowed money from friends and family, a few angel investors, and numerous years gone by – you find yourself with a great product, strong customer and market validation, and some real sales in the bag.

This might be the ideal time to bring on board a professional equity partner, whose funding and expertise can help to scale a business quickly, enabling you take full advantage of the opportunity that lies ahead.

This funding round, often referred to as a Series A, is a big step in a young business’ journey, and one that takes a lot of preparation to get right. Here are few key things to consider:

Are you ready? – Many professional equity investors at this level will need to see a proven concept that has generated strong traction. This means a working product, multiple customers and historical revenue (typically £1m+ of real revenue, i.e. not just pilots or proof of concept sales).

Get your timing right – A Series A round will be process driven, involving investor  approvals and due diligence investigations.  You must factor in sufficient time to close your financing round, making sure you have plenty of cash runway to see you through (at least 6 months). This can come as a shock to founders that have previously raised angel investment within a very short space of time.

Build your core team – This is a critical point for investors.  The team should be well-rounded, have relevant experience, and be able give the investor comfort that they can deliver the plan. It is also important to explain any possible gaps in the team, and any potential hires identified.

Know your proposition – Getting your story straight is essential. You need to be able to explain your business clearly and concisely, including your addressable market, the unit economics, and how the business is going to deliver the growth you are forecasting. This includes being able to explain who your competitors are, and why you are able to differentiate yourselves.

Get the right information together – You will need a thoughtful and well-reasoned business plan. This should have a good balance between including sufficient detail, without being too technical, and certainly shouldn’t assume the investor knows the details of your market or business. You’ll also need a financial model, which considers the key drivers and shows how these scale to deliver the growth (and eventually profits!). The founders should, of course, expect to have to justify their numbers and projections.

Understand your funding requirement – You need to be clear on what level of investment your business needs to deliver the plan, and what this is going to fund, as these will be key questions from any investor. You should build this in as part of your plan, based on justifiable assumptions.

Be realistic – Basing your plan on unrealistic assumptions is not helpful to anyone,  and will only result in uncomfortable conversations further down the line. Be confident that the story you’re selling is achievable.

Practice your pitch – Find a willing audience to practice on, one which can help identify gaps and weaknesses in your pitch. You must be able to articulate your vision succinctly and in plain English.

Finally, don’t consider raising funds as the endgame. Whilst financing is key to a business’ success, and a good equity partner can bring added value, it’s important to focus on building a great business as a priority, and only seek funding when it becomes a requirement to deliver the plan.

At YFM, we manage growth capital funds of c£150m, making investments of up to £10m into growing businesses. We have recently made investments in Arcus Global, Hutchinson Networks, Eikon and Ncam, and continue to look for further opportunities to deploy capital into exciting fast-growth businesses.

 

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Has there been a better time to raise scale up capital?

By Ian Waterfield
Partner, YFM Equity Partners

Has there been a better time to raise scale up capital?

YFM has completed growth capital investments into five young fast-growing businesses so far this year and a strong pipeline of opportunities reflects an increase in demand for scale up capital.

What is scale up capital?

Scale up capital, also known as later stage venture capital, is targeted at businesses with the following characteristics:

  • fast growing – the investment is being raised to accelerate existing growth which can be evidenced through clear KPIs.
  • differentiated product or service, often underpinned by its own IP
  • growing and loyal customer base – there are returning customers which have adopted the Company’s product or services. These are typically businesses which have achieved minimum revenues of £1-2m pa.
  • scalable business model – the core product or service has been designed to enable it to be rolled out or expanded without requiring significant further development, albeit there are likely to be opportunities to enhance and expand the offering.
  • ambitious management teams – teams that are not satisfied with the current rate of growth and can see the bigger opportunity and want to get there quicker.

Where can scale up capital be deployed?

Ambitious management teams are generally looking to increase market share in existing markets, access new markets and further develop their product or service offering.  The fresh capital is usually deployed to recruit additional people, expand sales and marketing activity levels or fund working capital.

Why is now the right time?

  • Alternative business models – the latest generation of technology-enabled businesses have easier access to their markets and are increasingly selling their services through recurring monthly revenue models, often under 2 to 5-year contracts. This allows young businesses to get to market quicker and show evidence of traction earlier, providing investors with an underpinning of value, when the Company might not yet be generating material profits.  As a result, companies can attract larger investments earlier in their development and scale quicker.
  • Strong investor appetite – the principle investors in this stage of company in the UK are Venture Capital Trusts. VCTs are regulated by the UK Government and the regulations have changed over the last few years to focus their investment activities on growth capital investments.  At the same time VCTs have raised significant further funds to invest in scale up opportunities.
  • Alignment of shareholders – this is key to the success of any ambitious company. Fast-growing businesses have often outgrown their existing shareholder structure, with early investors who are looking to exit and/or de-risk their current holdings.  Small-scale cash out alongside VCT growth capital transactions, can enable companies to set out on their next phase of growth with the equity in the right hands.
  • Professional support –corporate finance and legal advisors are eager to support fast-growing businesses, as they see deals being done and the potential to build long term relationships with ambitious management teams. This professional support can make the process of raising capital less disruptive, allowing the management team to focus on what they do best.

Recent scale up investments by YFM:

  • Matillion – based in the North West, Matillion is a leading provider of cloud-based integration technologies, helping companies optimise their data flows to and from the cloud. YFM originally invested £4m to accelerate revenue growth, in particular to support expansion into the US, and recently invested a further £1m alongside US investors in a $20m funding round.
  • Hutchinson Networks – based in Edinburgh, Hutchinson is a leading provider of IT and networks solutions. YFM invested £2.2m of growth capital earlier this year to enable the Company to recruit an additional 50 staff over the next two years.
  • NCam – based in London, NCam is a provider of augmented reality solutions to the entertainment industry. YFM invested growth capital earlier this year to support US expansion and continued technology development.

In each case, YFM introduced an experienced chairman with specifically relevant sector background into each of these businesses to work with the executive management teams.

Preparing for Selling your business

By Eamon Nolan
Partner, YFM Equity Partners

After all the years of hard work, blood, sweat and in all likelihood, a few tears, realising a strategic value on the sale of your business will make it all worthwhile.  Private equity partners work closely with their investee companies to ensure the best possible outcome for all the stakeholders in a business: the management team, employees, customers, suppliers and shareholders alike.

Some of the aspects that we at YFM Equity Partners have found to be crucial in maximising the return on investment include:

  • Identifying key value enhancers: establish early what the key things are that are likely to attract the most buyers and increase the achievable valuation. All key decisions should be about delivering these elements that may make all the difference between an acceptable outcome and one that knocks it out of the park.
  • Selecting a good corporate finance advisor: your private equity partners should always work with corporate finance advisors at exit to give the best chance of a good outcome. Key aspects in selecting who to work with to sell the business will include personal chemistry between the management team and members of the corporate finance team (important when the stress levels mount!), knowledge of your sector and potential buyers, international reach, lots of experience of doing deals in your marketplace (be it SME, mid-market or larger deals), etc.
  • Running the right strategy to maximise value for your company: in conjunction with your shareholders and Corporate Finance advisors, decide which strategy is likely to achieve the best outcome for your company: will it be marketing to a wide pool of potential buyers or targeting a more select group of buyers who you believe will be most excited and pay a premium price?
  • Uncoupling yourself from the company: succession planning is important to both give the new owner the confidence that there are the right people in place at the right levels of your business to provide continuity, as well as giving senior Board directors as much optionality as possible as to when they can depart the business.
  • Preparation: getting your housekeeping in order will add considerably to the ease of transacting the deal. Things to consider here are legal matters such as employee contracts, leases, etc as well as matters such as ensuring patent and IP documents are in place and up to date. On a personal level, the shareholders should ensure that good tax planning advice has been sought as early as possible in any transaction.
  • Timing: whilst there will of course be different drivers for exit, getting your timing right is key. Considerations here include the macro environment, where your company is in its growth story and factors specific to your industry.
  • Keep performing! A trade sale process will be one of the most time-consuming things the management team undertakes, particularly the CEO and CFO. It is therefore important that the senior teams ensure it has put in place the means for the business to continue to function and perform during this time – there’s nothing like a drop off in trading to spook a buyer.

I set out here some of the aspects to consider when the time comes to capitalise on all the hard work.  Since 2004, YFM has realised 35 investments and returned proceeds of over £100m to its core managed funds.

 

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Pushing geographic boundaries

…easier said than done…but worth it?

Charlie Robinson
Partner, YFM Equity Partners

Hunting out growth in a challenging economic environment is no mean feat.  For many of the businesses we are fortunate enough to work with at YFM, the answer may lie in extending the reach of their products and services into new locations, sounds easy right?  Open a new office, hire a load of people and off you go.

Of course, if it were as simple as that this would be a much shorter post.  For small companies looking to expand there are a multitude of pitfalls waiting to trap the unprepared, and while it is impossible to take all the risk out of a geographic expansion there are always ways to make things run a little smoother.  Here are three broadly sequential questions which I think are useful to consider when weighing up the pros and cons of opening in new locations:

  1. Do you really need to do it?  Ask yourself if you really need to open in a new location to achieve your business goals.  There may be more than enough to go for in your home market and it may be more important to focus on maximising that opportunity rather than take on the cost, effort and risk of extending into new markets.
  2. Can the business handle it?  Think carefully about whether you have the resources to manage operating out of multiple locations.  Finances will be key – new locations often take longer than expected to become self-sustaining, so it is essential the business can be funded through this period.  More importantly, especially in smaller high growth companies, it is crucial that there is sufficient bandwidth in the management team to deal with the challenges which will inevitably come.
  3. Who can help you out?  Don’t go in blind.  Ask your contacts and advisors who have been through the same process and if possible leverage their networks and experience so you don’t make the same mistakes they did.  Help is always out there…

The above commentary is deliberately a bit negative.  The point really is that it is key for business owners to really challenge themselves when considering geographic expansion.  The risk is high so the barriers should be set high.

At YFM we believe that if done right, the impact on a business can deliver transformational upside and so this is a major theme in much of our recent investment activity.  Portfolio companies Matillion, Ncam, Eikon and Springboard are all targeting expansion in the USA to exploit opportunities for their respective technologies.  Closer to home, Bristol-based food to go chain Friska is soon to open its third site in Manchester and passive fire protection consultant Checkmate based in West Yorkshire, has opened a new depot in the Midlands.  We are excited to be working with and supporting so many UK SMEs and teams that have made the decision to grow into new territories.

 

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YFM Equity Partners invests £4.5m to support the continued growth of CPMS Ltd

06 August 2018

YFM Equity Partners (YFM), the specialist private equity fund manager, has invested £4.5m from its managed funds into Collaborative Project Management Services (CPMS) to support the continued growth of the business through ongoing new product and market development.  YFM’s investment is the seventh investment from its £46m buyout fund.

CPMS provides multidiscipline Project Management to the railway system across track, signalling, telecoms, civils, and overhead lines.  CPMS has built a very strong reputation for excellence and is one of only seven companies to be awarded top marks under Network Rail’s Performance Supplier feedback process.  CPMS has grown quickly due it’s to reputation for efficient delivery and impressive levels of service.  Current annual revenues are almost £10m and the company employs 60 highly qualified members of staff.

The business was founded in 2012 by Matthew Baine, Damien Gent, Chris Mackie and Tim Galvini who will all remain with the company following the YFM investment and will continue to be the largest shareholders.  The team will be joined by Andrew Smith as Non-Executive Chairman, Andrew spent his executive career in large scale Infrastructure and Transport roles and has since become a serially successful Chairman.

Jamie Roberts, Partner at YFM, said: “Rail infrastructure is critical to the UK economy and CPMS is at the forefront of delivering the ongoing significant investment needed to keep up with demand.   The CPMS team has done a great job in building the business and we were very impressed with the reputation they have for delivering complex projects on time and under budget.  We look forward to working with the team as they move to the next stage of the company’s development”.

“This is the seventh investment from YFM’s 2016 buyout fund, which closed in April 2017, and represents another strong example of investing in well-established regional businesses in the £2-10 million investment market.”

Matthew Baine, MD and founder at CPMS, added: “We believe that our success is down to hard work, an honest and transparent ethos and the delivery of well thought out client solutions.  We met various private equity investors as part of this process and we felt YFM offered the right skill set to help deliver our growth objectives as well as sharing a similar culture.  We are looking forward to working with Andrew Smith and YFM to continue our growth story.”

 

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YFM Equity Partners backs the £10m MBO of DSP Database Managed Services

01 August 2018

YFM Equity Partners (“YFM”), the specialist private equity fund manager has backed the MBO of DSP Database Managed Services (“DSP”), a leading provider of database and data platform managed services.

Charlie Robinson and Ian Waterfield led the investment for YFM and this announcement marks the sixth investment from YFM’s Buyout Fund I.

One of the fastest growing implementation partners for Oracle Database Cloud, with a similar pedigree in Microsoft Azure, DSP is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of Data Platform support & consulting services, whether on-premise, in-the-cloud or hybrid.

DSP prides itself on having world-class Oracle and Microsoft delivery teams that deliver innovative support, consultancy and managed cloud services to a wide range of mid-market and FTSE 100 clients, particularly those with mission-critical database architectures.

DSP was founded in 1999 and set out to become a trusted technology partner for companies who wanted to invest in Oracle and SQL Server technologies.  Since those early days the Company has evolved as client requirements, and technology, has changed. DSP now supports multi-vendor, cloud and hybrid database and application infrastructures around the clock, wherever in the world they may be.

In recent years DSP has delivered significant contract, revenue and profit growth, and the experienced management team led by CEO, Simon Goodenough, is now looking to invest further in sales, operations and service innovation to accelerate growth across all areas of the business.  John Hawkins will join the business as non-executive Chairman.

Charlie Robinson, Partner at YFM said: “DSP is exactly the type of business that we look to invest in; it has an excellent reputation in this industry and has delivered consistent growth over the last few years.  Its focus on enabling its customers to get the right solution among a myriad of technology and vendor options provides a positive backdrop for the Company to further develop its customer base and expand its service offering.

“This is the sixth investment from YFM’s Buyout Fund, which closed in April 2017 investing in well-established UK businesses and supporting management teams in delivering their ambitious growth plans.”

Simon Goodenough, CEO at DSP said: “DSP is seeing unprecedented levels of demand for its services, especially from organisations that are beginning to realise the strategic value of hybrid private and public cloud data platforms.  We are delighted with both YFM’s investment and the expertise the team will provide.  We are looking forward to working closely with YFM to enable us to deliver our growth plans and reach the Company’s true potential.”

DSP was advised by Paul Morris at BDO and Gavin Cummings and Paul McCannah of Browne Jacobson.  Legal advice to YFM was provided by Chris Reed at Gateley, financial due diligence was carried out by Ed Gray and Iain Battigan of PKF Cooper Parry, commercial due diligence by Tom Fletcher and Anthony Crutchett of CIL, and organisational due diligence by Anna Cornwallis of Stratton HR.  Santander Growth Capital team, led by Scott Douglas, provided debt finance.

 

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