Baird Capital Exits Aston Carter

Baird Capital Partners Europe, the UK-based fund of Baird Private Equity, has exited its investment in London-based recruiting company Aston Carter Group. The firm sold Aston to staffing company Allegis Group. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, though the firm said that the exit generated a 2.5x gross return and a 27% gross IRR. Baird led the buyout of Aston Carter in April 2007, investing £13 million.

Baird Capital Partners Europe, the UK-based lower middle market private equity investor, announced today the sale of Aston Carter Group Limited (“Aston Carter”) to Allegis Group, the largest staffing business in the US and the fourth largest globally.

Aston Carter, headquartered in London, is a global recruitment business (providing both permanent staff and contractors) specialising in consultancy, finance and information technology. The company has annual turnover in excess of £180 million and more than 300 staff servicing 16 countries worldwide.

Baird Capital Partners Europe led the buy-out of Aston Carter in April 2007, investing £13 million backing CEO Sean Zimdahl and widening the equity participation amongst employees. At the time of the buy-out, Aston Carter was focused primarily on servicing the U.K. financial services market.

During Baird Capital Partners Europe’s investment, and in spite of a major downturn in Aston Carter’s key markets, the business more than doubled revenues. This was achieved by prompt execution of the investment strategy centred on international expansion into continental Europe and the Far East, and on continuing to deliver excellent service. In combination this enabled the business to grow with existing customers as well as develop new relationships.

Baird Capital Partners Europe has significant experience in the Business Services sector and recruitment services in particular. Its current portfolio includes investments in Nigel Wright Group, a leading UK recruitment consultancy specialising in the placement of professionals into the consumer industries sector in the UK and internationally and Synarbor, a public sector recruitment and services company. Previous investments have included Elan Computing, SII and Capital Consulting.

Chris Harper, Director of Baird Capital Partners Europe, said;

“Aston Carter was our tenth investment in the human capital sector and demonstrates that a focused strategy of investing in sectors that we know will realise strong results. Sean and his team worked incredibly hard throughout the recession to grow the business internationally and position the company as an attractive acquisition candidate.”

Aston Carter CEO, Sean Zimdahl, added;

“Baird Capital Partners Europe has been a great partner. The team brought deep sector knowledge and investment experience to our business, which really helped us develop the initial growth strategy. Then through tougher markets they were highly supportive of managing the cost base and retaining the key people at a level that enabled the business to grow quickly as markets improved. Their operational expertise and international network was a real help.”

Dennis Hall, Portfolio Director of Baird Capital Partners Europe, said;

“Consistent with our initial investment thesis, we were able to work with the Aston Carter team to expand their geographic footprint across Europe and Asia. It has been fantastic working with Sean and the team and I have no doubt that, as part of Allegis, Aston Carter will continue to prosper.”

Advisers to Baird Capital Partners Europe and Aston Carter:
• Financial Catalyst Corporate Finance (Mark Humphries)
• Legal Olswang acted for Aston Carter (Stephen Rosen and Kate Blumhof) Eversheds acted for Baird Capital Partners Europe (Richard Moulton and Mark Saunders)

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For further information:

Baird Capital Partners Europe T: +44 (0)20 7667 8400
Chris Harper/Dennis Hall T: +44 (0)20 7667 8357/8436

Merlin T: +44 (0)20 7726 8400
Vanessa Maydon / Rachel Thomas T: +44 (0)7787 504 447

Notes to editors
Baird Capital Partners Europe, the U.K. based buyout firm of Baird Private Equity, invests in U.K. lower middle market companies with an established annual turnover of £10m to £100m. Since 1971, it has completed over 150 private equity investments in the business services, manufactured products and healthcare sectors, where it has deep experience, knowledge and ability to add value. The group backs management teams with a strong track record and desire for further success. Baird Capital Partners Europe is supported by operating resources in China (Beijing, Hong Kong, and Shanghai) and India (Bangalore), focused on facilitating and executing Asia sourcing, manufacturing and distribution strategies for its portfolio companies.
Baird Capital Partners Europe Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.