Private equity firm helps fund MBO of risk management group

Manchester-based Palatine Private Equity has supported the management buyout of technology-driven testing, inspection and certification (TIC) business Lucion Services.

Founded in 2003, Lucion is a multi-disciplinary risk management group focused on hazardous materials, with a market-leading presence in the asbestos compliance market.

Headquartered in Gateshead but with offices across the UK, the group works in close partnership with its clients to help them achieve full compliance with UK occupational safety and environmental regulations.

Operating across a range of sectors including retail, housing and marine, Lucion uses its bespoke NexGen operating software to provide an added value service to a wide range of clients from both the public and private sector.

The company employs more than 300 people, with its growth to date being driven both organically and through acquisition.

In 2011, the firm completed the purchase of Leicester-based AOH, before adding asbestos and environmental consultancy Redhills in 2016.

The investment from Palatine, together with a debt funding package provided by HSBC, provides an exit for the founder shareholders, plus will allow the business to continue its buy and build growth strategy.

The deal sees Palatine back the incumbent executive management team, comprising CEO Phil Rozier, chief risk officer Ross Boulton and chief operations officer Adam Mead.

Jamie McGivern, who previously worked with Palatine at insurance broker Chase Templeton, joins the business as chief financial officer, and Patrick Morton, co-founder of Lucion, will continue with the business in an advisory capacity.

The deal was led for Palatine by Gary Tipper, Ed Fazakerley, Kieran Lawton and James Winterbottom. Lawton and Winterbottom will join the board as non-executive directors.

The investment was made from Palatine’s Fund III, which closed at £220m in June 2015.

The investment in Lucion gives Palatine further presence in the Yorkshire and North East region, alongside existing portfolio companies Icelolly and ZyroFisher.

Palatine were advised by Gateley, Grant Thornton and RSM, with financial due diligence provided by BDO. Park Place Corporate Finance led the deal for the vendors, with Watson Burton providing legal support.

Kieran Lawton, investment director at Palatine Private Equity, said: “With deaths from asbestos-related illnesses continuing to rise, there is a clear, ongoing need for the quality of service that Lucion provides.

“We have been impressed with the company’s development to date and are very much looking forward to working with Phil and the team on the next stage of the company’s journey.”

James Winterbottom, investment director at Palatine Private Equity, added: “Lucion represents an exciting opportunity to back a market-leading business within the testing and inspection sector.

“With its scale and national infrastructure, together with its industry-leading NexGen operating system, we can see a clear opportunity to work with the team to accelerate the company’s growth, both organically and through further acquisitions.”

Phil Rozier, chief executive at Lucion Services, said: “I’m delighted to be able to pick up the Lucion baton and build upon what is already an excellent platform for growth.

“Lucion has always had ambitious growth plans, which can now become a reality with the support and investment from Palatine.

“It was important for Lucion to find the right partner, one that can not only assist with the funding of acquisitive growth but also offer a wealth of experience and knowledge to help guide us through the challenges ahead.”

Patrick Morton, co-founder of Lucion Services, added: “[Co-founder] Charles Pickles and I are proud of what has been achieved at Lucion to date.

“Going forward, the company’s market-leading position will be further strengthened by the support that Palatine’s involvement will offer. This is a very exciting time for the business as it is positioned for further growth under the leadership of the existing management team.”

Advisers on the deal included, for corporate finance: Vendors and management team – Park Place Corporate Finance (Tim Simpson, Ian Hale, James Croxen); Palatine – Grant Thornton (Richard Goldsack, Matt Bryden-Smith, Jacob Leone and Cariad Mudford).

Debt funder: HSBC (Ross Lumsden and Andrew Hyde).

Legal advisers: Palatine – Gateley (Rebecca Grisewood, Kate Richards, Richard Sealy, Chris Lister); Vendors – Watson Burton (Duncan Reid); HSBC – DLA (Ann Robson).

Due diligence providers: Financial due diligence – BDO LLP (Matt Copley, Jeff Gardner); tax – RSM (Colin Smyth, Tim Douglas); Human capital – The Quinn Partnership (Mike Stiles and Paul Quinn); Napthens (Jenny Heyes); IT – Digital Pathfinders (Neil McGowan); insurance – Locktons (Kevin Stout); cyber security – The Agenci (Gary Hibberd).