Livingbridge celebrates £90m investment

THE Northern team of mid-market private equity house Livingbridge has enjoyed an active 12 months with six transactions – investing nearly £90m.

This represents nearly half of the firm’s total activity, with investments of more than £188m in 11 businesses over the course of 2016.

The team has led investments across the country, including telecoms specialist Southern Communications in Hampshire, and in London employee benefits adviser Broadstone, healthcare consultancy Four Eyes Insight, and digital search specialists The Up Group.

Most recently, the team invested £23m in Farnborough-based Exclaimer, the leading provider of email signature software.

In Manchester, Livingbridge backed the transformational acquisition of hosting company M247 by network services provider Metronet for £47.5m in October.

Livingbridge made nine exits in the last 12 months, including three companies in the North. Together, Newcastle-based Frank Recruitment Group, Stockton-based IT infrastructure provider Onyx and insurance broker Kingsbridge, generated an average return of 3.5x.

Nationally, the firm has achieved a number of key milestones this year, completing its 100th investment in biscuit-maker Thomas J Fudge in April.

The investment house also raised its largest fund to date, with Livingbridge 6 closing at £660m, giving the company over £1bn ready to make investments of £2m-£50m in growing businesses over the next five years.

Livingbridge has also underlined its ambitions to expand globally, opening its first international office in Melbourne, Australia. This complements its position as founding member of the Global PE Alliance, a group of mid-market private equity firms dedicated to improving links and communications overseas, with 270 professionals across 25 countries.

Pete Clarke, partner at Livingbridge, said: “Our Northern team has once again demonstrated its ability to invest in businesses across the UK, and remains a key contributor to the dealmaking activity at Livingbridge. The six new investments represent excellent opportunities for the firm, and the three exits from northern investments have provided strong returns.

“2016 has shown that there is still a strong appetite to get deals done. There is plenty of money available, with both private equity and debt fund liquidity supporting the higher prices we have witnessed during the year. I am optimistic that we will continue to see entrepreneurial SME businesses demonstrating their agility and innovation in rapidly adapting their business models to thrive in the conditions they face.

“Despite the uncertain economic environment, this has been a hugely successful year for the firm as a whole. With our latest fundraise, we now have over £1bn to invest in fast growing companies, and will be working closely with the companies we support to generate further growth in 2017.”