YFM investment to support VFX studio’s international scaling plans

16 February 2021

YFM investment to support VFX studio’s international scaling plans

Outpost VFX, a fast-growing UK-headquartered film and TV visual effects company, has secured a multi-million pound investment from funds managed by YFM Equity Partners (YFM) which will enable it to develop its infrastructure, company culture and proprietary platforms, as well as providing a solid base for further international growth across its four international locations.

Outpost VFX was set up in 2013. Headquartered in Bournemouth, it now also has operations in Montréal and London as well having recently opened a new studio in Los Angeles, enabling it to scale to hundreds of artists worldwide. The VFX house partners with global streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon, and Apple, and with major Hollywood studios including Universal. Recent high-profile projects include News of the World, The Alienist: Angel of Darkness and Watchmen.

The funding from YFM will help to accelerate the incorporation of machine learning within Outpost’s production management IP, further develop its training and career pathways IP and build out a unique global IT architecture.

The investment coincides with the appointment of Robin Shenfield to the board as chair. With decades of experience at the forefront of visual effects, Shenfield co-founded The Mill in 1990 which he successfully grew to over 1,100 employees working across the US, UK and Germany. In his time as CEO at The Mill, Shenfield attracted several rounds of private equity investment before eventually overseeing its £190m acquisition by Technicolor in 2015.

Shenfield will leverage his vast experience in the creative sector to support Outpost as it pursues a sustainable growth strategy for 2021, beginning with its expansion into Los Angeles.

Duncan McWilliam, founder and CEO of Outpost VFX (pictured above), said: “Our ambition has always been to create exceptional visual effects to support our clients’ needs whilst endeavouring to create a better work/life balance for our employees and pursuing a progressive culture.

“This investment allows us to take our mission further and faster, leveraging technology advances across our four international studios, building upon our forward-thinking employee culture and investing in our talent across the board.

“While it has been a very difficult year for film and episodic markets across the globe, demand for exceptional quality visual entertainment has never been higher and competition for market share between the streamers is driving rapid growth. YFM’s investment is a reflection of the strong market fundamentals in the visual effects sector which is set for unprecedented expansion in 2021/22, and the unique qualities in Outpost’s vision for the coming years.”

YFM Equity Partners has been investing in emerging businesses in the UK since 1982, with a focus on helping them to scale quickly. Its other investments in the film and broadcast sector include digital mastering and localisation provider Eikon and virtual production company Ncam.

McWilliam continues: “YFM is more than a financial backer to Outpost. With its significant market experience in the film and post-production sectors, YFM brings a wealth of experience that marries perfectly with our growth strategy. Its track record of success in this field alongside its talent network provides Outpost with enhanced opportunities to develop as an intelligent and creative business. Both Outpost and YFM share the same core cultural values, a unified vision that will undoubtedly aid in building a diverse and ethical company.”

Adam Hart, investment manager for YFM, comments: “Outpost has delivered impressive growth over recent years, driven by Duncan and his team’s focus on internal culture, operational efficiency, and high-quality creative output. With this round of funding, recent key additions to the management team, and Robin Shenfield joining as non-executive chair, Outpost is well-placed to solidify its position as an important player in the international VFX market. We look forward to partnering with the team through the next stage of this exciting journey.”

The YFM team comprised Adam Hart and Paul Cannings. Jon Gill and Dan Whitewood of TLT LLP provided legal advice and due diligence; Paul Read and Andrew Reid of HMT LLP led financial due diligence; Geoff Rampton and Suzy Urch of RP Advisory provided commercial due diligence; and Richard Joyce and Ruth Brunskill of Grant Thornton led technical due diligence. Organisational due diligence was handled by Anna Cornwallis of Stratton HR; insurance due diligence by Jonathan Harrison of Aon; and VCT advice came from Philip Hare and Gareth Hewins of Philip Hare & Associates.

The company was advised by Susan Cowan of Lester Aldridge.

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