Alchemy completes Open + Direct MBO

Alchemy Partners has led a £111m management buyout at Viridian Group’s consumer financial services business.

Viridian Group, the Northern Ireland energy firm, has completed the sale of its Open + Direct Consumer Financial Services business to a management buyout team backed by Alchemy Partners. The £111.4m price tag is likely to result in a small book loss for Viridian.

Viridian chief executive Patrick Haren said the sale of Open + Direct would allow the firm to focus on the development of its energy businesses in Ireland. “The transaction reduces our funding commitments and represents both good value for Viridian as well as a good opportunity for the management team to take this business forward.'

As at 31 March 2001, Open + Direct had net assets of £24.5m. Profits before interest and tax for the year were £5.3m. A spokesman for Viridian said the proceeds of the sale would be used to reduce existing borrowings.

This is Alchemy's largest deal in the financial services sector, a sector which the firm has been looking to enter. It has committed £55m to organically grow the business, with the aim of doubling its size over the next three years. Alchemy has not decided on a definitive exit strategy as yet, although a trade sale is thought to be the most likely option.

Alchemy was approached by Ernst & Young, which advised Open + Direct's management. As usual, Alchemy was advised by KPMG and received legal advice from Macfarlanes and Tughan.