Equity Strategies originates acquisition of leading veterinary CPD and training provider, Improve International on behalf of Benchmark Holdings plc.
Advised by Equity Strategies, Benchmark Holdings plc (“Benchmark”), an international animal health, animal breeding and genetics, sustainability science and technical publishing business has acquired Improve International, a Swindon-based provider of professional development within the veterinary market.
Improve International Ltd (“Improve”) will sit within Benchmark's technical publishing division, which provides global knowledge transfer, technical insight, e-learning and market analysis for people and businesses working in agriculture, aquaculture and the food supply chain.
Improve provides high quality CPD courses for veterinarians across the UK, Republic of Ireland, Scandinavia and mainland Europe. Benchmark aims to accelerate Improve’s move to online training and overseas growth.
The deal includes an upfront payment of £3.2m and an earn-out which could pay a maximum of £3 million, depending on the satisfaction of performance targets in the year ending December 2015.
Improve is being purchased from its three shareholders who constitute the senior management team; David Babington, Heber Alves and Rui Lobao, all of whom will remain active within the business.
In the year ending 31 December 2013, Improve achieved £0.2 million of earnings before taxation on £3.1 million of revenues. For the year ending 31 December 2014, revenue is expected to be £3.5 million. Earnings before taxation are expected to be £0.5 million. The growth in profits is attributable to a contract with DEFRA to train Official Vets in the UK and expansion in Europe, the Americas and Australia.
Improve predicts continued growth in terms of both revenue and profit, with the acquisition expected to be immediately earning enhancing.
Malcolm Pye, Chief Executive of Benchmark Holdings Plc said: "The acquisition of Improve will enable us to combine our digital and distance learning expertise with Improve’s veterinary content across Europe, enhancing our ability to serve the professionals in our key veterinary markets.”
Leon Boros, Managing Director, Equity Strategies commented “We are delighted to have originated and advised on this important acquisition in the education and training arena”.
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Benchmark Holdings plc
Founded in 2000, Benchmark represents a new model in sustainable business development. Over the last decade it has built a profitable group of companies on the economics of a sustainable food chain.
Benchmark is an ethical company with an explicit policy based on the "3E's" definition of a sustainable business - ethics, environment and economics - which guides its strategy and operations. The Company listed on AIM in December 2013 and has a diverse range of investors including Woodfood Investment Management, Invesco, Slater Investments, Landsdowne Partners, Hargreave Hale, Polar Capital, Miton Group and high net worth individuals.
The existing Group has four divisions: Animal Health which research, manufactures and markets medicines and vaccines particularly for aquaculture; Sustainable Science which research and informs sustainable development in the food industry; Technical Publishing which effects technology transfer through online publishing and education and Animal Breeding and Genetics which plays a primary role in the development of animal production, efficiency, health, welfare and sustainability in the global livestock and aquaculture industries. Benchmark operates internationally with offices in the UK, Ireland, Norway, Iceland, USA, Brazil, China, Russia and Thailand and, as at March, employed 280 people.
Improve CPD was founded in 1998 by a group of veterinary surgeons from across the UK, including a number of recognised experts. The mission of the Company still remains to provide the highest quality CPD in a manner which allows delegates to develop their skills in a logical and progressive fashion, whilst remaining under the supervision and guidance of Course Directors whom have the highest qualifications in their field. All of the courses are accredited by either The European School of Veterinary Postgraduate Studies, or Harper Adams University. The Company currently organises CPD courses in venues across the UK and Ireland, Italy, Norway, Sweden and Portugal. The courses are run both privately and in alignment with universities and other organisations.
Improve have taken over a wing of Alexandra House in Wroughton near Swindon, which compromises a purpose-built conference centre that is part of the Principle Hayley Group, which is currently being transformed in their headquarters and training centres. They pride themselves on the value that they are “run for vets by vets”.
They offer a variety of different length courses for practice managers, vet surgeons and vet nurses. They have also started to offer webinars online in order to enhance learning opportunities.
Equity Strategies Limited
Equity Strategies is a deal origination and advisory corporate finance firm with a particular focus on the animal health, education and training sectors. Equity Strategies acts for a number of PLCs and private equity firms seeking acquisition opportunities in the UK and overseas. The firm also advises business owners on trade sales, raising private equity or preparing for an IPO.
The Company’s principals have managed corporate transactions in the mid-market arena with an aggregate value in excess of £500m in the animal health, education, training, outsourcing, IT, recruitment and transport sectors in deals ranging in value from £2m to £100m.
Equity Strategies is an Appointed Representative of Sapia Partners LLP which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
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