PE group backing UKFast buys IT specialist to form new entity, leading to 100 new jobs

Simon Turner

Private equity group Inflexion has confirmed the acquisition of Manchester-based IT company ANS Group in a deal which will create more than 100 jobs during 2021.

ANS and existing Inflexion investment, Manchester-based UKFast, will be brought together under one parent group, said Inflexion, to address the rapid market growth opportunity for digital and cloud services.

The group will combine ANS’s public cloud, DevOps, applications and data expertise with UKFast’s leadership in private cloud, hosting and security, to create the UK’s independent leader in secure cloud-led digital transformation across the public and private sectors.

The value of the deal has not been divulged, but City sources believe it is worth approximately £200m, with ANS founder and majority shareholder, Scott Fletcher, in line for a £100m reward.

Each business will continue to operate under its existing brand, while offering customers the full portfolio of offerings from across the extended group.

Founded in 1996, ANS’s 270-team members enable customers on their digital transformation journey to public cloud.  ANS is a key partner to Microsoft and Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Founded in 1998, UKFast is a leader in private cloud hosting and security services with more than 6,000 customers, and has a fast-growing public cloud offering. Both companies have industry-leading customer satisfaction metrics, and together will be focused on deepening the skilled resources available to customer organisations working with increasingly complex IT landscapes.

As a new UK national tech champion, the combined group will launch a Digital Academy and enhanced apprenticeship programmes, and plans to hire more than 100 new staff over the remainder of 2021 to meet the strong market demand for digital technology and transformation skills.

Simon Turner, managing partner at Inflexion, said: “ANS has built itself into a UK leader for public cloud services, complementing our existing investment in UKFast.

“Together, the businesses are well poised to accelerate their growth as the market for cloud and digital services continues to benefit from strong demand.”

Paul Nannetti has been appointed chair of the combined group, bringing deep industry experience to the business. He was previously a member of the Capgemini Group leadership team, including, most recently, as CEO of the Cloud Infrastructure Services division.

Paul said: “The  combined group will be an incubator of leading-edge skills and capabilities to help our customers benefit from agile, affordable and scalable technologies to transform their businesses.”

Paul Shannon, ANS chief executive, said: “This deal is testament to the skills, experience and leadership of the ANS team whose passion and dedication have allowed us to become a leader in our sector. Inflexion’s initiative provides a platform for us to accelerate our ambitious growth plans.”

Ian Brown, UKFast chief executive, said: “As a new UK tech powerhouse, the combined group creates tremendously exciting opportunities for our valued customers, our passionate team, and our trusted partners. With Inflexion’s vision and support we are creating a unique digital transformation business.”

Ian Brown of UKFast and Paul Shannon and Chris Hodgson of ANS will join the combined Group’s board.

The transaction sees the exit of ANS majority shareholder Scott Fletcher.

The investment is being made by Inflexion’s Partnership Capital Fund II.

Carl Wormald and James Wigglesworth, of Inflexion, both worked on the deal.

A 56-strong corporate team from Addleshaw Goddard advised ANS on the deal, led by partners Roger Hart and Pete Wood and including David Auty, Samantha Wright, Ben Collins, Jessica Chapman, Cat Concannon, Dan Rathbone, Nina Goodman, Ben Farnworth and Nazaneen Ahmadi.

GCA Altium acted as exclusive financial advisor to Inflexion and UKFast on the deal. Phil Adams, CEO of GCA Altium, said: “This transaction creates a UK powerhouse in digital transformation and cloud services. We are proud to have supported UKFast through its evolution, starting with the 2018 sale of a minority stake to Inflexion. We wish both companies every success in this new chapter.”

The transaction marks the 70th tech-related deal for the firm this year.