Key Capital exits WHP

Key Capital Partners has sold WHP Group to Palatine Private Equity. The deal was valued at 38 million pounds (US$57.4 million). Palatine is investing 16 million pounds for a majority of WHP. U.K.-based WHP provides planning, design, acquisition, deployment, upgrade and maintenance of mobile network masts, antennae and base stations for mobile operators. RBS Corporate Transactions provided total debt facilities of 16 million pounds.

PRESS RELEASE

Palatine Private Equity has completed a £38m secondary buyout of WHP Group, a provider of support services to the mobile telecoms infrastructure sector. The deal sees a successful exit for Key Capital Partners (KCP), which originally backed a buyout of the business in 2013.

WHP is a leading provider of end-to-end services for the planning, design, acquisition, deployment, upgrade and maintenance of mobile network masts, antennae and base stations for all the major UK mobile operators. Employing over 275 people and headquartered in Warrington, the business operates on a national basis with operations in Leeds, Glasgow and Reading.

Boosted by high levels of investment and activity in the mobile telecoms sector, WHP has grown significantly with turnover up from £17m to almost £30m since the original buyout in 2013. With a customer base committed to further investment, new enhancements such as 5G and the introduction of new technologies, the company is well placed to continue this growth for the foreseeable future. The much publicised potential M&A activity in the sector will create more change and present further opportunities for WHP.

The £16m investment from Palatine and funding from RBS Corporate Transactions team will allow WHP to invest further in its highly skilled workforce, develop its service offering and accelerate its growth. Palatine partner, Andy Lees and Investment Manager, James Winterbottom will join the board of the company as non-executive directors.

Rob Potter, managing director at WHP Group, said: “The UK telecoms market has been very strong over the last few years. Our capacity to offer efficient services and our continued investment in a highly skilled team has enabled us to capitalise on this opportunity and increase our share of the market. Palatine has demonstrated an excellent understanding of our business and the sector and we look forward to welcoming them on board as a partner during this exciting time. KCP brought a wealth of business experience to the table and have provided exceptional support and guidance over the last two years, setting the business up for its next stage of growth.”

Andy Lees, partner at Palatine Private Equity, commented: “This is a very exciting time for the business. WHP has moved quickly to develop its team and its service offering to meet the demands of a rapidly expanding mobile telecoms market. With consumers’ desire for more data and better connectivity, WHP is very well placed to benefit as the mobile operators invest further in their infrastructure.”

Peter Armitage, partner at KCP, added: “Over the past 21 months, it has been a privilege working with the WHP management team. In just a short space of time, the company has doubled both turnover and profitability and now boasts some of the most high profile clients in the sector. In Palatine, we have found an ideal partner to continue the company’s ambitious growth strategy and we’re certain the firm is in good hands.”

WHP will continue to be supported by RBS, which has provided total debt facilities of £16m. Craig Cheetham, David Jamieson and Stuart Watson represented RBS.

Palatine was advised by Tim Clarke of Park Place Corporate Finance with Pinsent Mason providing legal advice and Analysys Mason providing commercial due diligence.

Chris Froggat of Convex Capital and Chris Moss of JMW advised WHP and KCP.

Other advisers on the transaction included BDO (financial due diligence and tax), The Berkeley Partnership (operational review), The Quinn Partnership (human capital review), Marsh (insurance due diligence) and Baker Tilly (tax due diligence).

ENDS