Boss leads MBO of construction advisory firm

THE Liverpool-based chief executive of Baqus Group, a property services consultancy, has agreed a deal to buy the business for £1.25m.

Rob McNeill and other key members of the London-registered company’s executive team have formed BFM Ventures to acquire the business.

In the year to the end of March 2015 Baqus’ fee income was £5.8m. The company was listed on AIM from 2007 to  2011 and offers construction cost consultancy, project management and building surveying services.

It  has offices in Liverpool,  Manchester, London, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Canterbury, Chichester, Oxford and Winchester.

Rob McNeill, chairman and chief executive of BFM, said: “This is an exciting and timely opportunity to establish a fresh,vibrant and committed management team who will continue to develop the Baqus brand with new innovative ideas and deliver the established core services.”

Clive Sayer, chairman of Baqus added: “Having considered all options this bid crystallises shareholder value and allows an exit whilst also allowing existing and deserving colleagues to develop their careers guided by the existing CEO of Baqus.”

WH Ireland is financial adviser to BFM Ventures, while Wigan-based accountancy firm Fairhursts is advising Baqus.

BFM Ventures Limited is a newly incorporated company specifically for the purpose of acquiring Baqus. BFM’s shareholders are the members of the management buyout team and comprise Robert McNeill (chairman) and executive directors Raymond Palmer, James O’Brien, Aidan Lewis, Paul Warburton, Andrew Welch and Brian Williams.

The payment due under the offer will be financed by means of a £827,000 interim facility and separate £400,000 facility from Lloyds Bank.

Setting out the background to the deal Baqus said: “In the face of difficult economic conditions Baqus Group turnover and profitability declined and, in April 2011, the company’s shareholders voted to delist the Company’s shares from AIM. The business has subsequently found it difficult to recruit and retain staff and, in particular, the next generation of its senior management. This has been exacerbated by significantly different levels of performance across the different regions of Baqus’s Group.

“In August 2015, the board of Baqus concluded that the risk of key staff leaving the group or sections of the group leaving, thereby causing the group to fragment, made the company vulnerable to a permanent loss of shareholder value.

“Accordingly an independent committee of the board was formed to allow a team led by Rob McNeill, the chief executive officer of Baqus, to explore a potential management buyout of the business in order to achieve long-term stability of the Group, through a committed and stable management team.

“Following a negotiation with BFM, the independent committee has agreed to recommend the offer made by BFM Ventures Limited.”

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