Our Corporate Finance team has successfully advised the shareholders of Loss Adjusting and Claims Management specialist GHG Limited (GHG) on the management buy-out supported by private equity firm YFM Equity Partners and debt provider Triplepoint.
Founded in 1995 in Winchester, Hampshire, GHG specialises in developing bespoke claims management and loss adjusting for the UK insurance sector, covering both the domestic and commercial markets. With particular expertise in property, liability, subsidence and claims administration, it is well placed to offer a comprehensive service, including having specialist knowledge areas. The company has enjoyed a sustained period of growth after expanding its offering and has won a number of significant new contracts in recent years.
The team were appointed by the shareholders to conduct a full sales process, which involved marketing the business to both private equity and potential trade acquirers, in the UK and overseas. The shareholders were looking for a buyer who could help accelerate the ambitious growth strategy of the management team whilst allowing the business founder, Graham High, to retain a shareholding in the business.
The Property Loss Adjusting sector has seen significant consolidation recently, and the business received significant appetite and interest from potential acquirers who were attracted by GHG’s excellent reputation, size and niche proposition. Multiple offers were received prior to agreeing the sale to YFM Private Equity, who were enthusiastic backers of the business, and who’s investment would enable the management team to benefit from the future growth of the business.
The Buyout, (with a total value of £17m) was led by GHG Managing Director Austin Snelgrove. The team introduced Austin to GHG as part of a management succession plan in 2017 and for the last three years he has been working alongside Graham High, as the business continued to develop and grow.
Graham High will continue to hold a significant shareholding in the business and will retain a position on the board post-investment. Clive Nicholls, former UK CEO of Crawford’s – the UK’s largest loss adjuster, joins the business as non-executive Chairman to support the company’s ambitious growth strategy.
The team worked alongside Paris Smith, who acted as the legal advisers to the shareholders and the management team, and Wilkins Kennedy, the Company’s accountants and tax advisers. YFM were supported by local teams at BDO Corporate Finance (buy-side advisers), James Cowper Kreston (financial due diligence), RPL (commercial due diligence) and Gateley’s (legal advice).
“I have enjoyed my 25 years leading GHG limited and having worked alongside Austin Snelgrove and the team for several years I now take great pleasure in handing them control whilst maintaining my involvement in the business. This is an exciting stage of the development of GHG and the energy and commitment that the team bring to this transaction gives me great confidence for the future.” Graham High.
“GHG has grown into one of the most reputable and trusted businesses in its field and is renowned for providing a high quality loss adjusting product and for exceptional service levels. We look forward to working with Austin and Graham to continue that journey. The loss adjusting market is undergoing significant change and we believe GHG is exceptionally well placed to be at the forefront of that.” Jamie Roberts, partner at YFM.
“The team advised us from the outset, guiding us through the information memorandum, analysing the offers received and, finally, taking the deal through to conclusion. I was amazed how complex the transaction process was and how much of the pressure The team took from my shoulders. The team from The team worked very hard in the background to “oil the wheels“ and ensure that the deal progressed with a minimum of difficulty. This was our first sale of a business and the whole thing was a mystery. The team were fantastic in explaining the process and guiding us through the twists and turns. Darren Miller was the lead negotiator for our deal and provided expert advice throughout, he went “above and beyond” in assisting me and my team in the sale process.” Graham High.
“Having learnt a massive amount from Graham’s extensive expertise, I am confident that both I and the business are ready for the next stage of the company’s development. I am really excited to continue to work with the excellent team we have built up, along with our engaged insurer partners, to develop new products and services to the exceptional standards that all our customers and their policyholders now expect and deserve. As a business whose success is based on its solid reputation and credibility within an exacting industry, we used the same criteria when choosing our investment partner. YFM has a strong track record of supporting regional businesses in their growth journey and this has very much been a local deal, supported by the expertise of local professionals. The deal was made possible by the hard work and diligence of Our Corporate Finance team, for whom I would also like to add my personal thanks for the significant support provided to me.” Austin Snelgrove, Managing Director of GHG.
“We have known Graham and the business for several years and had a clear understanding of Graham’s personal and business objectives. Introducing Austin enabled Graham to move to Chairman and between them they have been able to develop a strong management team that is very well placed to build on success GHG has achieved in the last 25 years. This allowed us to consider both private equity as well as strategic trade interest in the business and we are delighted to have been able to support Graham and Austin in concluding a deal with YFM. Completing a transaction like this during the coronavirus crisis has been a significant challenge for everybody concerned but all of the principals and advisers have worked together extremely well to achieve this result. We wish the business every success over the coming years.” Darren Miller.
The deal was made possible by the hard work and diligence of the Corporate Finance team, for whom I would also like to add my personal thanks for the significant support provided to me.Austin Snelgrove Managing Director of GHG