Equistone backs Wealth at Work in £50m buyout

EQUISTONE Partners Europe has completed the £50m management buyout of financial services company Wealth at Work from Palatine Private Equity.
 
Liverpool-based Wealth at Work offers financial education, regulated advice and wealth management services for the workplace,which it delivers nationally.

The company, which employs more than 120 staff, works with FTSE employers such as Marks & Spencer as well as a number of financial services companies.
 
The company has educated more than 80,000 employees covering a range of subjects from pensions to share scheme diversification and redundancy to retirement planning.
 
The buyout is Equistone’s first UK investment from its Fund V which closed at €2bn in April and sees the private equity firm take a majority stake in the business.

Palatine, which backed the company in 2011, has achieved a 3.5 x return on investment and will co-invest for a minority stake alongside Equistone and the management team, which continues to be led by chief executive David Cassidy.
 
Equistone partners Steve O’Hare and Dominic Geer led the transaction and will join the Wealth at Work board as non-executive directors.
 
Steve O’Hare said: “Regulatory change and increased pressures for employers to boost engagement with staff is driving demand for services at Wealth at Work. Pension schemes can be highly complex and given the new flexibilities and choices, it is more important than ever that employees are guided in the right direction.
 
“The company has demonstrated strong growth during its time with Palatine and continues to be the market leader within its field. The business is well placed for continued organic growth and we will also look at strategic acquisition opportunities over the coming months.  We look forward to working with the team through the next phase of growth.”
 
David Cassidy, chief executive of Wealth at Work, added: “This new significant investment into Wealth at Work will allow us to continue to grow quickly and therefore meet the rapidly increasing demand for our services which are now used by a number of the largest companies in the UK.

“I very much look forward to working with Equistone and further developing our offering to our clients, delivering innovation and setting new standards of best practice. We would also like to take this opportunity to thank Palatine for the support they have provided so far, and we look forward to continuing our work with them as we take our business to the next chapter.”
 
Gary Tipper, managing partner at Palatine Private Equity, said: “It has been a pleasure working with David and the management team. The business has developed an excellent reputation in the marketplace and has successfully capitalised on the need for improved engagement with employers, so we’re excited about its prospects over the next few years.”
 
A team at Deloitte comprising Andy Westbrook, Olly Tebbutt and Harry Jones provided corporate finance advice on the transaction. Deloitte also provided financial and commercial due diligence, led by Richard Bell, Dan Wright and Andrew Power.
 
Nick Roome, Paul Kelly and Chris Hardman at KPMG provided legal advice to Equistone and Jonathan Robinson and Katy Philips at DWF advised the company.

DWF’s Robinson said: “Having advised Wealth at Work on their initial acquisition of the business I am delighted to have worked with the company on the next stage of their development. They already work with some of the UK’s most recognisable brands, and this investment by Equistone will allow Wealth at Work to continue developing innovative services and growing their customer base across the UK.”

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