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Private Equity Firm Buys IT Service Provider

Adrian Thirkill

The list of private equity firms scooping up managed service providers (MSPs) and IT consulting firms continues to grow. The latest deal involves Mayfair Private Equity, which has acquired UK-based GCI.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. But according to reports, GCI was valued in the neighborhood of £200 million (US$271.4 million). The seller was Business Growth Fund (BGF), which has backed the IT service provider since 2012.

Mayfair has also set up a £60 million (US$81.4 million) fund that GCI will use to make acquisitions.

GCI, which was founded in 1998, claims to be the largest privately-owned ICT (Information and Communications Technology) service provider in the United Kingdom. The company has grown both organically and through what it calls an “ambitious and successful acquisition strategy.” Key customers include Lush Cosmetics, the Heritage Lottery Fund, BGF, and more.

GCI’s services range from technological support to mobile services. The company has more than 4,000 customers spread across the public and private sectors.

GCI: History of Acquisitions

Since BGF’s initial £10 million (US$13.5 million) investment, GCI has acquired 12 businesses. GCI’s revenues have doubled to more than £100 million (US$135 million) and the team has expanded from 150 to 500 employees.

Thanks to that initial investment, GCI was able to make a handful of c-suite appointments including chief marketing officer, chief technology officer, and chief commercial officer, headed by founder and chair Wayne Martin and CEO Adrian Thirkill. Wayne has reduced his shareholding while Thirkill, who has overseen the buy and build strategy since joining the business in 2015, will continue in his role supported by his management team, the company said. BGF’s Gurinder Sunner will step down from his seat on the board of GCI.

The investment from Mayfair will help the company continue with that strategy, according to Thirkill. “Our immediate objective is to continue to fully integrate what we have and in the coming months we will see all GCI group companies operating under one brand with common systems and processes,” he says. “This will significantly enhance our service offering to customers – making it easier for them to use more of our innovative and broad range of services. Whilst there are currently no significant gaps in our portfolio, we operate in a fast-changing market and the new £60m+ fund will enable us to make strategic acquisitions over the coming months and years to add even more value to our customers.”

Example Deals

Mayfair tends towards investments in the technology, media and telecom, and consumer sectors. Its most high-profile investment is Yo! Sushi, which acquired Canadian-based Bento Sushi for US$80 million in November 2017.

“The ICT sector has seen impressive growth in recent years, with the UK IT services sector becoming increasingly attractive as customers dependence on suppliers increases through outsourcing mission critical systems and IT infrastructure,” says Mayfair Partner, Waqqas Ahmad.

“We are delighted to be working with Adrian again and have already been very impressed with what he has accomplished since joining the business in less than 3 years. With our support and capital, we see GCI quickly becoming one of the largest ICT suppliers in the UK.”

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