Wren Sterling is unveiled – rebrand follows management buyout
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Wren Sterling has launched today, the new brand and visual identity for Towergate Financial which comes just 3 weeks after completing the management buyout backed by Palatine Private Equity. 

It marks the start of a new era for the company that was formed in 2007. The rebrand follows extensive brand and market research undertaken over the last few months among staff, clients, strategic partners and other stakeholders.  

The launch of Wren Sterling coincides with the start of the 2015/16 tax year, pension’s freedom and new phases in the corporate pensions and investment markets.  These are key areas of expertise for Wren Sterling where it can add real value and make a difference for its clients. The business, as well as investing in a new brand, is also investing heavily in new IT and back office systems. 

Wren Sterling currently employs over 110 advisers across the UK and specialises in corporate and personal independent financial advice. In March this year, Palatine Private Equity and management invested £14m to purchase as well as grow Wren Sterling and John Charcol (a large independent mortgage advisory business). Tony Dickin and Andy Strickland led the deal for Palatine Private Equity and have joined both company boards.   

Warren Page, Chief Executive, Wren Sterling commented: "Our new brand marks the start of a new era for our business. Importantly we have listened to our staff, clients and strategic partners and have delivered a new brand that reflects our propositions and values. It also symbolises the uncompromised role we play for our clients in guiding them through complex financial situations both now and in the years to come."

Ian Darby, Executive Chairman, Wren Sterling added: "The opportunity for Wren Sterling is significant and the financial commitment made in the business by Palatine and management signals our confidence in the market. Today’s launch of the new brand, Wren Sterling, is a significant 1st step post completion for all our staff and clients."

Forrest appointed to deliver X1 Eastbank
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Palatine Private Equity portfolio company Forrest has been selected by X1 for phase one of X1 Eastbank, a 310 luxury apartment multi-phase project in Manchester. Phase one, an eight-storey apartment building directly off Great Ancoats Street, starts on-site in March with completion due summer 2016.

Forrest’s Sean Connor, Project Director for the scheme, said: “This is a significant milestone for the business. We’ve built up a strong presence on a national level for our work and are excited to be using our expertise to construct such a high profile building”

Melissa Green, X1, commented: "We are excited to begin works at X1 Eastbank in conjunction with both Forrest and DK-Architects. Having already launched several successful PRS developments in the Manchester area, X1 is delighted to continue to contribute to this area of high rental demand, which is experiencing a durable under-supply of housing. Manchester city centre is ranked by HSBC as the second biggest BTL property hotspot in the UK and X1 Eastbank will offer a great mix of 1, 2 and 3 bed apartments for luxury living at a competitive price".

David Kirby, Partner at DK-Architects added: "It’s fantastic to be working with Forrest to deliver this iconic X1 development, our track record is proven to deliver high quality X1 buildings on time and within budget."

X1 Developments is a UK-based residential developer and investor, founded in Liverpool with a portfolio of over 30 successful projects in the sector.

Palatine backed the secondary buyout of Forrest in October 2013 investing £16m from their second fund.

Palatine completes £14m buyout of John Charcol and Towergate Financial Planning
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Palatine Private Equity has completed the management buyout of the mortgage broking business, John Charcol, and the financial planning business of the Towergate Group.  The Financial Planning business will be announcing a new brand in the coming weeks whilst John Charcol will continue to trade under the brand it has successfully built over the last 40 years.  

Palatine has backed Ian Darby and the existing management team of both businesses in the management buyout.  Ian Darby has joined as full time Executive Chairman of the businesses and will work alongside the incumbent management team. The John Charcol team will also be joined by Simon Knight as CEO with further senior appointments to both teams expected to be announced very shortly.   

Palatine and management have invested £14 million in the transaction.  In addition to funding the initial purchase price of £8.64 million, these funds represent significant additional capital for the financial separation of the two businesses, investment in growth and the improvement of systems which will allow the management teams to continue to deliver high quality service levels to their private and corporate clients. As part of the transition from the vendor, management plan to invest heavily in new IT and back office systems and as well as bolstering existing routes to market and building new ones.       

Ian Darby is familiar with the businesses having been at the helm of both before moving to Aviva Life in 2011 as Retail Director to implement its direct strategy.  Simon Knight is also no stranger to John Charcol having begun his career in the mortgage industry with them in 1987 before moving on to develop extensive experience of both broking and lending leadership roles with Private Label and GMAC-RFC.  Ian and Simon join the incumbent teams led by Warren Page (Financial Planning) and Walter Avrili (John Charcol).  Warren has successfully led both the financial planning and mortgage broking businesses since 2012 and will continue as CEO of the financial planning business. Walter joined John Charcol in 1984, he became Managing Director of the business in 2010 and is extremely well regarded in the world of mortgages for his contribution to the industry.   

Tony Dickin and Andy Strickland led the deal for Palatine Private Equity and will join both company boards. Palatine have now completed eight deals from their second fund which closed at £150m in June 2013.  

Ian Darby, Executive Chairman, said: “I am delighted to be able to lead this transaction to invest in a growing national financial advisory and mortgage broking business.   They both employ some truly great people and we have an excellent strategy to develop and strengthen its routes to market through intelligent strategies and investment.  The market opportunities available to both businesses are significant and we look forward to capitalising on these over the next few years.”

Tony Dickin, Partner, Palatine Private Equity, commented: “This is a great opportunity for us to invest in two excellent businesses, operating in sectors with positive market dynamics and growth opportunities. We very much look forward to working with Ian and the team in taking both businesses forward.”

Palatine was advised by Catalyst Corporate Finance (CF advice by Richard Holden and James England), Gateleys (legal advice by Mark Halliwell), BDO (financial DD by Chris Grove) and CiL (commercial DD by Sebastian Chambers).  Management was advised by Pitmans (legal advice by Sean Kelly) and Spectrum Corporate Finance (Simon Davies).

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