Equistone has acquired ECI’s stake in ChartCo Limited, a UK-based provider of navigation and voyage compliance services for the marine sector. The value of the deal is 55 million pounds (about $79 million). In conjunction with this transaction, Tim Swales and Sam Breuning of Equistone have been added to ChartCo’s board.
ECI Partners (“ECI”) today announces that it has sold its investment in ChartCo Limited (“the Company”), a supplier of digital navigation and voyage compliance services to the marine industry, to Equistone Partners Europe Limited (“Equistone”) in a transaction valuing the company at £55 million (enterprise value). The Company was previously part of ECI-backed Kelvin Hughes Group.
ChartCo is the world’s principal provider of navigational data, nautical charts, marine technical publications, compliance data and digital services. ChartCo began supplying charts for the Royal Navy over 250 years ago and today provides the leading navigational software platform, PassageManager, to the commercial marine industry. The Company provides data and services to more than 12,000 vessels globally, helping them to safely plan routes, digitally navigate and comply with local and international regulations. ChartCo is headquartered in Enfield, London, with further offices in UK, France, Netherlands and Singapore. In the financial year 2015, ChartCo reported revenues of over £40m.
Since ECI invested in Kelvin Hughes, ChartCo has been transformed through investment in people, technology and niche acquisitions. Highlights include:
21% increase in vessels served over the past two years
Recent acquisition and integration of leading maritime regulatory data provider Regs4Ships (in September 2014)
Development of the leading digital navigation platform, PassageManager
ChartCo’s strong business model is underpinned by recurring revenues in a market which is driven by non-discretionary regulatory and compliance spend. The broader market transition from physical to digital products represents a compelling commercial opportunity, as ChartCo will leverage its existing market-leading position within digitally enabled vessels (circa 30% share). There remains further opportunity to grow this market share, as well as cross-sell a wider product range of value-add services to its customer base.
CI will retain ownership of Kelvin Hughes’ separate equipment division, a world leader in solid state radar systems.
Lewis Bantin, Partner at ECI, commented: “It has been a real pleasure supporting Martin and his team at ChartCo, working with them to grow and develop the business. The team have built a platform that delivers digital services and products to shipping fleets in every corner of the world; a business with real global reach. This successful investment adds to our track record in helping companies maximise growth by developing their own tech platforms. We wish Martin and the team every success as they continue to build on their achievements and further strengthen their role as the leading navigational data business for the global shipping industry.”
Martin Taylor, Managing Director at ChartCo, added: “With ECI’s support, ChartCo has achieved significant growth in recent years and transformed into the market leader in commercial marine navigation. We are immensely proud of what we have achieved and we are excited about working with Equistone to further develop the business and realise its full potential.”
Tim Swales, Partner at Equistone Partners Europe, said: “ChartCo is at the forefront in this industry’s transition from physical products to digital services. Its comprehensive offering and software platform has seen an increased subscriber uptake in recent years which is set to continue as customers seek to meet the growing requirement of regulation and regular fleet inspection.
“We are delighted to be investing in the business and partnering with Martin and his team during this next phase of the Company’s development. With the support of Equistone, ChartCo is well placed to continue its growth both organically and through selected strategic acquisitions.”
Tim Swales and Sam Breuning from Equistone will join the board of ChartCo. The buyout is Equistone’s tenth investment from its fifth fund, Equistone Partners Europe Fund V.
ECI Partners was advised by KPMG (CFA), PWC (FDD), Parthenon-EY (CDD) and Goodwin Procter. Equistone was advised by Parthenon-EY (CDD), PWC (FDD), Marlborough Partners (Debt Advisory), KPMG (Tax) and Travers Smith.