Equity funding from Enterprise Ventures helped the international development consultancy IMC to make the transition from being part of a big corporate to a fully independent, management-owned business over the course of a four-year period.
The London-based consultancy, which works with governments and international aid agencies to address some of the world’s most pressing development challenges, started life more than 50 years ago. In 1997 it was acquired as part of a larger deal by WSP Group plc. However as the business developed its specialist skills and services, it became clear it was no longer part of the Group’s core offering.
IMC provides services such as infrastructure and engineering, economics and finance, private sector development, livelihoods, disaster mitigation and reconstruction, environmental management, and social development, often in regions affected by crises and conflict. Its experience includes everything from building schools in Bangladesh, to expanding Uganda’s road network and supporting innovations to solve problems faced by the world’s poorest people.
In 2011 Enterprise Ventures supported its £3.7m management buy-out from WSP, giving the management team led by Gavin English the autonomy they required to continue to develop the business as a separate entity. Enterprise Ventures, which invested from the EV Growth Fund, continued to work with the business over the subsequent four years, during which time the business increased its turnover from £19m to £26m (2014 revenue) and more than doubled its headcount to 80.
In 2015 Enterprise Ventures sold its shares to the management team, generating an IRR in excess of 45% and a total money multiple of 4.2x its original investment. Paul Taberner of Enterprise Ventures said: “IMC’s work has had an impact on millions of lives worldwide but its success is dependent on its people and having staff with the specialist skills and experience. Therefore it is important for it to have a high level of staff ownership.”
“We knew that the team were keen to achieve full ownership of the business at some point, therefore we continued to work with them and timed our exit for when they were in a strong position to do so. This is an excellent outcome, both for the company itself and for Enterprise Ventures, in terms of the return on investment achieved.”
Gavin English: “Enterprise Ventures have been highly supportive of our business. Over the course of a four-year period, they have helped us to make the major transition from being part of a big corporate to an independent company fully owned by the management team. We are looking forward to the future and are well placed to continue to drive the business forward.”
To find out more about the EV Growth Fund please visit this page.