Equistone has acquired a majority stake in UK-based Inspired Thinking Group, a provider of outsourced marketing services. The seller was Bridgepoint Development Capital. No financial terms were disclosed.
Equistone Partners Europe Limited (“Equistone”), one of Europe’s leading mid-market private equity investors, today announces its investment in Inspired Thinking Group (“ITG” or “the company”), a Birmingham-headquartered technology-led provider of outsourced marketing services. Equistone has acquired a majority stake in the company from Bridgepoint Development Capital (“BDC”) alongside management, for an undisclosed sum. With a pan-European network of offices, Equistone will support the company’s ambitious international growth aspirations and continued investment into digital marketing services.
ITG helps global brands and retailers including Heineken, Audi and Puma to deliver their multi-channel marketing more efficiently and effectively, utilising its proprietary software platform, “MediaCentre”. Going forward, under its new “Intelligent Marketing Made Simple” strapline, ITG plans to continue expanding its range of innovative online and offline marketing services, which today include full digital services, eCRM, a 24/7 content creation studio, print management, strategic planning and creative.
ITG has grown rapidly since the company was founded by Simon Ward in 2009, attracting investment from private equity firm Livingbridge in 2010 before BDC acquired its majority stake in 2014. The company made two additional strategic acquisitions under BDC’s ownership: Vitamin, a small boutique planning and creative consultancy, in 2015; and Creator, a leading provider of electronic customer relationship management that was subsequently rebranded as ITG Creator, in 2016. ITG generated revenues of c. £90m in the year ending August 2017.
Adrian Willetts, Partner at Bridgepoint Development Capital, commented: “During our period of ownership ITG expanded its footprint across sectors, invested in its proprietary technological expertise to support its market leadership and made two important acquisitions. The business also grew revenues strongly with organic profits doubling during our investment period. With the benefit of this increased scale and service capability, it is now well placed to grow further under new shareholders.”
Simon Ward, CEO of ITG, said: “I’m very proud of what we have achieved since founding ITG. We set out to be a disruptor in the sector and continue to achieve this. The speed with which the company has established itself as a leading marketing services provider is a reflection of the amazing team we have at ITG and the continued support we have received from our investors at each stage of our growth trajectory. I am excited to continue ITG’s development with our new partners at Equistone, who are a great fit to support our continued ambition to develop and lead this sector and significantly expand our international footprint.”
Paul Harper, Partner at Equistone Partners Europe, commented: “We are delighted to be supporting Simon and his team to continue driving ITG forward. They have created an innovative and disruptive business model, founded on technology, which is trusted by a portfolio of well-known clients. We believe ITG is ideally positioned in a dynamic market, and the opportunity to accelerate growth through further investment in the service proposition and international expansion is significant. ITG has created a unique culture, which we very much look forward to being a part of as we work alongside the team in the next phase of growth.”
Equistone was advised on the acquisition by Clearwater International (CFA), Eversheds Sutherland (Legal), PWC (Tax and FDD), EY (FDD), AMR International (CDD), Confido (IT DD) and Marsh (Insurance DD). BDC was advised on the sale by Catalyst Corporate Finance (CFA), EY (FDD), CIL Management Consultants (CDD) and Ropes and Gray (Legal). ITG’s management was advised by Catalyst Corporate Finance (CFA), Parisi Tax (Tax) and Thinking Legal (Legal). Debt financing was provided by Lloyds Bank and HSBC; Lloyds and HSBC were advised by DLA Piper (Legal).