Today we kick off with a deep dive into an exit as I caught up with Exponent on the firm’s sale of recycling services provider Enva to I Squared Capital.
We also have some data on US private equity’s interest in UK businesses, a trend that has been on the rise throughout last year.
In deal news, we have Stonepeak signing the recapitalisation of a Western European bandwidth infrastructure company and Pelican Capital investing in a group of three global mobility businesses.
As the exit market remains slow, it is always interesting to hear about the process when a firm does part with a portfolio company. I did just that with Exponent Private Equity’s Tim Easingwood and James Gunton, to learn about the firm’s exit from Enva.
London-based Exponent agreed to sell Enva to I Squared Capital in late April. The deal was valued over £600 million ($752 million; €683 million), generating a return of over 3.5x for Exponent, according to sources close to the matter.
Despite a challenging economic climate, Enva attracted “strong interest” from private equity and infrastructure investors at “robust” valuation levels, according to Easingwood. Combined with Enva’s offering of essential services, the company provided an attractive investment backdrop, Easingwood added.
Easingwood said multiple parties were involved in the auction and highlighted the importance of a portable debt structure in the transaction.
The sale of Enva isn’t the only recycling deal we’ve covered here on PE Hub Europe recently. Craig McGlashan spoke with Energy Capital Partners’ Andrew Gilbert about the firm’s acquisition of Biffa, a UK waste management firm.
Across the pond
Next, we have some data from a UK law firm Mayer Brown on US private equity’s interest in UK businesses. US private equity firms stepped up acquisitions of UK businesses by 35 percent last year, from 134 acquisitions in 2021-2022, up to 181 in 2022-2023, according to Mayer Brown’s research.
The increase is largely due to UK company valuations, making them attractive targets for US buyers.
“US investors were concerned by the aftermath of last year’s Budget and the LDI crisis that followed but these have now been factored in,” said Paul Rosen, partner at Mayer Brown. “US PE houses still see the fall in sterling as an opportunity to try to acquire high quality assets in the right sectors at lower relative earnings multiples. The comparatively cheaper listed share valuations of the UK listed markets are also presenting opportunities for US PE buyers.”
“US private equity buyers have long favoured UK business laws over some other European nations’ as corporate governance structures are more similar to those in the US, and labour laws are also more understood,” Rosen added.
For more on this, make sure to read Craig McGlashan’s in-depth story on take-privates. Craig spoke with senior figures across the private equity industry to find out more about the trend. You can read his full story here.
Stonepeak has signed the recapitalisation of euNetworks, a Western European bandwidth infrastructure company.
euNetworks is a data centre and cloud connectivity provider based in London.
The recapitalisation is being effectuated as a sale of euNetworks by a Stonepeak-managed vehicle, alongside investments from APG Asset Management (APG) and Investment Management Corporation of Ontario (IMCO), according to a release.
“APG and IMCO share our enthusiasm for euNetworks’ future and collectively we look forward to working closely with the company as it continues to grow over the coming years and as Stonepeak continues to grow its presence in Europe,” said Cyrus Gentry, MD and head of communications Europe at Stonepeak.
Staying with tech a little longer. Pelican Capital has invested significant capital in a group of three global mobility businesses, including ECA International, Tracker Software Technologies (TST), and Global Expat Pay (GEP). The companies are headquartered in London, Dublin and Windsor, respectively.
ECA provides data to help clients evaluate and manage compensation and benefits for international employees moving around the world. TST is a software platform designed to help global companies with immigration and tax compliance. GEP operates a combined data and payment service for expatriate and assignee remuneration.
The group will help customers benchmark the remuneration of their global workforces, as well as navigate tax and immigration rules that come with overseas employee assignments, the release added.
“We believe the global mobility market is ready for a single point provider of services and we believe we can be just that,” said Richard Morrison, partner at Pelican Capital. “With high inflation in multiple jurisdictions driving increased demand for data and an ever-greater focus on regulatory compliance, we’re in an enviable position.”