Support Services Sector Comment – October 2013


Clearwater’s Support Services Team focuses on increasing M&A activity in the insurance services sector this month including our latest transaction, advising outsourced accident management services provider Kindertons on its sale to Sovereign Capital, the UK private equity buy & build specialist.

This month also saw Goldman Sachs Capital Partners (GSCP) acquire a 50% stake in Hastings Insurance Services for a reported £150m, implying an enterprise value of approximately £700m. This is GSCP’s first investment in the UK since 2008, when it was part of a consortium that acquired Expro International Group.

The deal by GSCP followed the acquisition by another American firm, Arthur J Gallagher, of Belmont International Ltd last month for an undisclosed consideration. Belmont is a Kent-based insurance broker for businesses and private individuals. In addition, Arthur J Gallagher acquired Giles Insurance Brokers in September for a net consideration of £233m.

Integro USA Inc, a New York-based insurance brokerage and risk management firm, also announced the acquisition of Arthur Doodson (Brokers) – trading as Doodson Broking Group – the 50 year old Stokport-based insurance broker specialising in entertainment, live event and sports sectors for an undisclosed consideration.

In 2013, there have been over 30 transactions in the insurance brokerage sector with the largest deals involving American buyers. The most acquisitive UK firm has been Towergate Partnership and its sister company Cullum Capital Ventures, having made 7 acquisitions so far this year. Towergate Partnership is backed by American private equity firm Advent International, which invested £200m in Towergate in 2011.


Capita announced the acquisition of The Write Research Company for an undisclosed consideration. The Write Research Company provides research and insight led resourcing for corporate clients.

Australia-based SAI Global announced the acquisition of Sunderland-based IQ Management Systems, a provider of management systems training, auditor training courses and consultancy services.

October saw another deal in the facilities management sector with Carillion acquiring John Laing Integrated Services from John Laing for an undisclosed consideration. John Laing Integrated Services is the support and facilities management division of John Laing and the disposal is line with the group’s strategy of focusing on the business of bidding, investing in and managing infrastructure projects.

Altrad Group, the French provider of construction equipment rental services announced two deals in the UK, both in the scaffolding sector. It acquired Bury-based Spectra Scaffolding and London-based Trad Group for undisclosed considerations.

Jephson Homes Housing Association and Raglan Housing announced they are to pursue a merger following the announcement of initial talks back in June.

RPS Group announced the acquisition of OEC Consulting AS, a Norwegian project management consultancy for £31.5 million.

Bunzl continued its acquisition strategy in Mexico with the acquisition of Pro Epta, a distributor of catering equipment, principally to luxury hotels and restaurants. It is Bunzl’s third acquisition in the country since its acquisition of Vicsa Safety in 2012.

Lakehouse Maintenance announced the acquisition of Foster Property Maintenance, a property services company operating in the affordable housing and public property sectors for local authorities and other housing providers for an undisclosed consideration.

Chappell & Matthews acquired Knights of Bath, a real estate agency operator.

Fulcrum Utility Services sold Fulcrum Pipelines, the gas pipeline operator, to ES Pipelines for £6.3 million in cash.

BHSF Group acquired Occupational Health Consultants, a Holywood, Northern Ireland-based occupational health consultancy and corporate healthcare services provider.

Equity Direct Broking, the Brentwood, UK-based specialist motor and home affinity broker, announced that NMG Holdings has entered into an agreement to acquire the company from Equity Insurance Group.

Chesnara announced the acquisition of Direct Line Life Insurance, the life insurer from Direct Line Insurance Group plc, for £39.3 million in cash.

The Ice Company, a division of J Marr Group, acquired the cold store division of David Price Food Services for an undisclosed consideration. The deal has secured the future of depots in Glasgow and North Tyneside, along with 29 jobs.

It has been reported that Irwin Mitchell is planning to acquire MPH Solicitors, a Manchester-based personal injury, clinical negligence and ministry of defence legal firm.

Intertek Group acquired Louisiana-based Global X-Ray & Testing Corporation, provider of non-destructive testing and mechanical integrity services to the oil and gas industry from Platte River Ventures LLC for £45 million.

Begbies Traynor Group announced the acquisition of the trade and assets of Cooper Williamson, the Manchester, UK-based insolvency services company for £2.5 million.

Driver Group, the global consultancy to engineering and construction industries, acquired the remaining 49% shareholding of Driver Group Africa Pty from SADC Project Consulting (Pty) Ltd for £0.37 million.

Exova Holdings acquired Defiance Testing & Engineering Services, a US vehicular component and system testing services company from from Ashok Leyland, a division of the Hinduja Group.

Greencoat UK Wind entered into an agreement to acquire Cotton Farm (located in Cambridgeshire) and Earl’s Hall Farm Wind Farms (based in Essex) from BayWa Group for a total consideration of £70 million including prepayment of existing indebtedness and including £6.4 million of cash.

Palatine Private Equity backed the secondary MBO of Herbert T Forrest (trading as Forrest), the Bolton-based social housing contractor. Palatine provided £16 million to back the MBO team in exchange for a significant minority stake. The acquisition provides a partial exit for LDC which, combined with Palatine, will now be the majority shareholders.