Founded in 1985 by husband and wife Chris and Judy Beighton, Westleigh is one of the largest housebuilders in the Midlands that focuses on the delivery of affordable homes to Registered Providers (RPs). The Leicestershire-based business, which also has an office in Solihull, achieved sales of around £100m, with EBITDA of more than £9m during the financial year to March 31, 2016. In line with this growing demand, the company anticipates sales will rise to over £165m by 2018.
Westleigh currently employs around 300 staff, builds 1,200 properties per year and has developments in locations from Northampton in the south, to Sheffield and Grimsby in the north and east.
The deal represents a partial exit for the founders and the business will continue to be led by Ian Jones, who joined 20 years ago, as managing director, with founder Chris Beighton remaining as Chairman.
Palatine has invested £21m for a significant minority stake in Westleigh and will support the company as it continues to tap into a rapidly growing affordable housing market. The deal was led by Palatine partner Gary Tipper and Investment Director Richard Thomas with support from Investment Executive James Painter. Both Tipper and Thomas will join the board as a Non-Executive Directors.
Richard Thomas, Investment Director and head of the Midlands at Palatine Private Equity, said: "In a fast growing and attractive market, Chris, Ian and their team have built a business well-placed to benefit from the high levels of demand for affordable housing. The company has a strong and entrepreneurial management team who have demonstrated their ability to grow the business to now be a market leader across the Midlands for affordable housing development. Weíre delighted to be backing such a high quality business as our first deal out of Palatineís, recently launched, Midlands office. Westleigh has some ambitious plans over the next few years and weíre looking forward to supporting the company as it expands across the UK and builds on its position in the affordable housing market."
Chris Beighton, Chairman at Westleigh, said: "This is an incredibly exciting time for Westleigh and I am delighted that the business has attracted such a high quality investor. It is a testament to all our staffís achievements that we find ourselves in a position of strength and this investment signifies an important period of further growth for the company."
The deal was originated and led by Phil Burns, Managing Partner at Clearwater International and Austin Moore acted as legal advisers to Westleigh. Palatine was advised by Catalyst Corporate Finance, Gateley PLC and RSM with due diligence provided by KPMG, CIL, GK Strategy and JLT. Debt facilities were provided by European Capital and AIB.
The Rainmaker Awards 2016 were hosted at the Hilton in Manchester to celebrate the North Westís corporate finance community. Tipper emerged the winner from a shortlist which also included Richard Hughes and Nick Cowles, both of Zeus Capital. †
Palatine has made a number of new investments over the last 12 months including the management buyouts of bar and restaurant brand The Alchemist and Bolton-based medical supplies manufacturer Vernacare. Palatine also backed the secondary buyout of holiday park group Verdant Leisure, which operates four holiday parks in southern Scotland, and the North East of England.† †
The firm has also had some successful exits over the period including the sale of Wealth at Work to Equistone for £50m, achieving a 3.5x return, and selling its stake in leisure company Playnation to an Austrian trade buyer resulting in a 2.5x return. †
Gary Tipper, Managing Partner, Palatine Private Equity said: "It is an honour to be handed the award ahead of some outstanding dealmakers in the region, and I am backed by a fantastic team, who I wholeheartedly thank. It has been a great year. We have completed a number of stand-out transactions, but I think the one that stood out the most for us was the sale of Wealth at Work. I couldnít have done this without the support of the team at Palatine and Iím looking forward to more successes in the years to come."
The acquisition of Kingfisher and Heather View holiday parks in the Wear Valley brings the boutique leisure park operatorís portfolio to six sites across southern Scotland and North East England.† †
The acquisition supports the boardís growth strategy to create a regional group with significant scale and is the firmís first purchase since Palatine Private Equity backed a secondary buyout of Verdant Leisure in April this year. †
Set in 23 acres on the banks of the River Wear close to the village of Frosterley, Kingfisher is a 177 pitch five star leisure park offering a wealth of facilities, activities and nearby attractions. Also in the Wear Valley, at Stanhope, Heather View is a 21.3 acre park with 282 pitches. County Durhamís nature reserves provide for walking, fishing and outdoor pursuits, and the areaís rich local history makes it popular with holiday makers throughout the year.†
Graham Hodgson, CEO of Verdant Leisure, said: "Kingfisher and Heather View are thriving, first-rate leisure parks offering outstanding customer experience in spectacular locations, and are therefore a perfect fit with our brand and values. With our financial strength and excellent trading performance we are actively looking to make further acquisitions before the end of 2016."
Verdant Leisure was formed in September 2010 following a management buy-in of Dunham Leisure Limited, owners of Pease Bay and Thurston Manor leisure parks in South East Scotland, by an experienced team that includes Graham Hodgson as Chief Executive, Andrew Wall as Finance Director and Bev Dixon as Operations Director. Ronnie Peters has since joined the board as Sales Director.†
Verdant went on to acquire Viewfield Manor Leisure Park in Ayrshire in July 2011 and Riverside Leisure Park in Northumberland in 2012.† The latest investment brings the total number of pitches of privately owned lodges and holiday homes, holiday lettings and touring facilities to over 2,500. †
Ed Fazakerley, Partner at Palatine Private Equity, said: "Verdant Leisure has become a major player in the Northern regions, and has expanded further through this acquisition. We saw significant buy and build potential in the business when we decided to invest, and these acquisitions are just the first in a series as we look to build on Verdantís portfolio of holiday parks." †
Debt facilities were provided by Tosca Debt Capital and Yorkshire Bank. †
Verdant Leisure was advised by KPMG (financial due diligence) and Osborne Clarke(legal advice)