Palatine mixes it with The Alchemist
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Palatine Private Equity has completed the £13m management buyout of The Alchemist, as the Manchester bar and restaurant brand looks to roll out more sites across the UK.

The deal marks Palatine’s second investment with Living Ventures Group following its buyout of Gusto last year.  

The Alchemist first opened its doors in Manchester in 2010 and currently operates two venues in the city centre, as well as sites in Leeds and London. It currently employs 250 staff achieved sales of £11.3m last year and was recently ranked the 20th fastest growing business in the UK by The Sunday Times. 

The £10m equity investment from Palatine and £6.5m development and working capital facilities from Santander will enable the business to develop its existing sites and open new venues in city centre locations. The Alchemist opened last summer in the City and recently extended its Spinningfields, Manchester restaurant, adding an additional 2,500 square feet to meet the increased demand from customers.  

Formed in 1999 by Tim Bacon and Jeremy Roberts, Living Ventures own some of the UK’s most talked about brands including Australasia, Blackhouse, Gusto, The New World Trading Company, Manchester House and Artisan. 

Both Bacon and Roberts will maintain an active role in the business, with Bacon taking on the position as chairman and Roberts becoming a non-executive director. As part of the investment, Palatine’s managing partner Gary Tipper and investment director Beth Houghton will both join the board of the company as non-executive directors.  

Beth Houghton, Investment Director, Palatine Private Equity said: "The Alchemist is a fantastic brand and has developed a strong customer base as a result of its innovative and theatrical cocktail offering. The Spinningfields site continues to be one of the highest trading units in Manchester and we look forward to introducing the brand to more city centre locations across the UK."

Tim Bacon CEO, Living Ventures and Chairman, Alchemist added:"The Alchemist is a very strong brand which offers a unique customer experience.  With the investment from Palatine we will be able to make The Alchemist a recognised brand throughout the UK" 

BDO in Manchester provided corporate finance advice to Palatine, led by M&A Director Kieran Lawton and supported by James Gregson. The firm also provided financial due diligence (Chris Heatlie and Robert Dawes) and tax services (Emma Suchland and Lauren Fletcher).  

Shoosmiths’ team of Kieron Toal, Damien Brown, Kelly Harvey and Ruth Evans provided legal advice to Palatine and Pinsent Masons advised management.

Chase Templeton buys Medical Insurance Advisers
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Palatine Private Equity portfolio, Chase Templeton has competed its second acquisition this month with the purchase of Brighton-based intermediary Medical Insurance Advisers Limited (MIA).

The transaction will bring over 700 clients and a further £1.5m in Annual Premium Income (API) to the private medical insurance specialist. It follows the £6.3m API deal Chase Templeton announced earlier this week through its purchase of SME-focused Get Private.

Co-founded by chief executive officer Stephen Walker, Medical Insurance Advisers has been trading for some 20 years and, whilst having built a small SME book, predominantly served individuals.

Having sold MIA, Walker, who was chair of the Association of Medical Insurers & Intermediaries (AMII) between 2004-07, is now retiring from the industry along with fellow director, shareholder and former AMII board member, Hazel Gregory.

MIA’s individual clients will now be served from Chase Templeton’s Individuals Centre of Excellence at its offices in Bridgwater, Somerset, with the corporate book being integrated into the sister SME centre at the company’s HQ.

Backed by Paaltine, Chase Templeton has become the PMI sector’s leading consolidator with a client base of over 35,000 businesses and individuals generating in excess of £110m API.

Stephen Walker, CEO, Medical Insurance Advisers, said: "It was time to hand over the reins, realise the value of a business I and my colleagues have built over two decades and enjoy retirement. I am grateful to Chase Templeton not only for the professional, courteous and satisfactory manner in which they conducted negotiations, but for giving myself and Hazel the comfort of confidence of knowing they will be well looked after in the future."

Jeff Tate, Mergers and Acquisitions Director, Chase Templeton said:  "Cultivating a business of the calibre of Medical Insurance Advisers takes more than expertise, it takes hard work and dedication too.  People casually throw around the phrase ‘well-earned’ when discussing retirement but I can assure you it is thoroughly deserved in this case. The baton has now been handed over to our Bridgwater team who I’m confident will be able to match the exceptional care, attention and advice from which MIA clients have previously benefited."

Palatine backs WHP in £38m secondary buyout
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Palatine Private Equity has completed a £38m secondary buyout of WHP Group, a provider of support services to the mobile telecoms infrastructure sector. The deal sees a successful exit for Key Capital Partners (KCP), which originally backed a buyout of the business in 2013. 

WHP is a leading provider of end-to-end services for the planning, design, acquisition, deployment, upgrade and maintenance of mobile network masts, antennae and base stations for all the major UK mobile operators. Employing over 275 people and headquartered in Warrington, the business operates on a national basis with operations in Leeds, Glasgow and Reading.

Boosted by high levels of investment and activity in the mobile telecoms sector, WHP has grown significantly with turnover up from £17m to almost £30m since the original buyout in 2013. With a customer base committed to further investment, new enhancements such as 5G and the introduction of new technologies, the company is well placed to continue this growth for the foreseeable future. The much publicised potential M&A activity in the sector will create more change and present further opportunities for WHP. 

The £16m investment from Palatine and funding from RBS Corporate Transactions team will allow WHP to invest further in its highly skilled workforce, develop its service offering and accelerate its growth. Palatine partner, Andy Lees and Investment Manager, James Winterbottom will join the board of the company as Non-Executive Directors.  

Rob Potter, Managing Director at WHP Group, said: "The UK telecoms market has been very strong over the last few years. Our capacity to offer efficient services and our continued investment in a highly skilled team has enabled us to capitalise on this opportunity and increase our share of the market. Palatine has demonstrated an excellent understanding of our business and the sector and we look forward to welcoming them on board as a partner during this exciting time. KCP brought a wealth of business experience to the table and have provided exceptional support and guidance over the last two years, setting the business up for its next stage of growth."  

Andy Lees, Partner at Palatine Private Equity, commented:"This is a very exciting time for the business. WHP has moved quickly to develop its team and its service offering to meet the demands of a rapidly expanding mobile telecoms market. With consumers’ desire for more data and better connectivity, WHP is very well placed to benefit as the mobile operators invest further in their infrastructure."

WHP will continue to be supported by RBS, which has provided total debt facilities of £16m.

Palatine was advised by Tim Clarke of Park Place Corporate Finance with Pinsent Mason providing legal advice and Analysys Mason providing commercial due diligence.  Chris Froggat of Convex Capital and Chris Moss of JMW advised WHP and KCP. Other advisers on the transaction included BDO (financial due diligence and tax), The Berkeley Partnership (operational review), The Quinn Partnership (human capital review), Marsh (insurance due diligence) and Baker Tilly (tax due diligence).

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