Epiris, the UK private equity firm, is pleased to announce the sale of FirstPort, the UK’s largest residential property manager, to funds managed by Equistone Partners Europe. FirstPort is one of two businesses owned by investee company Knight Square; Epiris will retain its interest in the other, Appello. The deal is subject to regulatory consent and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2019.
Epiris invested in Knight Square in 2012 when, alongside Chamonix Private Equity, it bought the business out of administration. Since then the business has been separated into two independent parts (FirstPort and Appello), made three add-on acquisitions (most recently of Barratt Residential Asset Management from Barratt Developments plc) at the same time as divesting a portfolio of surplus real estate, and undergone an extensive reorganisation and investment programme to improve operational delivery and customer service levels as well as to stimulate growth.
FirstPort is a leading UK residential property management company. It works with developers, investors, freeholders and over 200 Resident Management Companies to provide services to residents and leaseholders of 196,000 residential properties across more than 3,900 developments throughout the UK. The business employs more than 3,000 people.
Appello is the UK’s leading provider of digital systems and services that support independent living for elderly or vulnerable customers. It operates the country’s largest telecare monitoring centre and is the leading provider of fully-digital emergency and wellbeing systems. These capabilities build on the greater functionality and performance of digital telecommunications infrastructure to offer best-in-class service breadth and quality.
Alex Cooper-Evans, Partner of Epiris, said: “This investment showcases many of Epiris’ strengths. We acquired FirstPort in a complex transaction seven years ago and have since worked hard to transform the business. We have rebuilt the company’s operations so that FirstPort today is a leader in the market in terms of the rigour and quality of its service. At the same time we have invested in people, infrastructure and M&A to enable growth. As a result, FirstPort has delivered an exceptional return to our investors. Much of that is due to Nigel and his team, and we wish them every success for the future.”
Alex Fortescue, Managing Partner of Epiris, said: “Appello has a really exciting future built on the organic and acquisition-led growth opportunities it faces. In particular it has taken the lead in implementing fully-digital emergency and wellbeing systems, known as “Smart Living Solutions”, which offer greatly enhanced functionality and performance compared to the vast installed base of analogue systems. We look forward to working with the Appello team to drive further growth.”
Nigel Howell, Chief Executive of FirstPort, said: “Epiris has been hugely supportive as we have worked to revitalise FirstPort. Together we have built a great business delivering exceptional service for customers and clients. We now look forward to further growth under new ownership.”
Epiris is advised by DC Advisory, Macfarlanes and PwC.
For Epiris please contact:
Andrew Honnor, Katarina Sallerfors, Matthew Goodman
+44 (0)20 7952 2000
Epiris is a top-decile* private equity firm which invests in opportunities to transform businesses in partnership with exceptional management teams. It targets control positions in UK-headquartered businesses with an enterprise value of between £75 million and £500 million, deploying between £40 million and £150 million of equity.
Between 2011 and 2016 Epiris invested £1 billion in buyouts and loan-to-own debt investments in respect of which it has delivered a gross IRR of 38%*. Synthetic net returns from this portfolio are in the top-decile of European private equity funds of comparable vintages. Knight Square is the last unrealised investment in this portfolio.
Epiris Fund II is an institutional private equity fund raised in 2017. Recent investments by Fund II include Portals, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of “substrate” for banknotes; TI Media, the UK’s largest consumer magazine publisher; The Club Company, the UK’s largest country club operator; Bonhams, the global auction house; and Diamorph, a supplier of advanced material solutions for demanding and safety-critical applications. In March 2019 the Fund announced a recommended cash offer for IFG Group plc, a financial services holding company whose subsidiaries are James Hay, which provides pensions administration and investment platform services, and Saunderson House, an independent wealth manager and financial adviser
For further information, please visit www.epiris.co.uk.
Issued by Epiris which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
* As at 31 March 2019. Gross IRR does not reflect adjustments for investment management and administration costs. Comparator data supplied by Preqin. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.