Duke Street-led consortium sells funeral firm for £75m

Duke Steet's first deal-by-deal investment Laurel Funerals has been split and sold to Dignity and Funeral Service Partnership

A Duke Street-led consortium has realised £75 million ($117 million; €104 million) from the sale of Laurel Funerals, the buyout firm’s first transaction acquired on a deal-by-deal basis, the firm said in a statement.

The sale of the UK’s funeral service provider, acquired by the consortium including Babson Capital Europe, Metric Capital Partners and Alcentra in 2012 for £37.5 million, was split between two buyers.

The trade and assets of 36 of Laurel’s 83 business locations have been sold to London-listed funeral service provider Dignity, with the remainder, including Laurel’s central business unit have been sold to Funeral Service Partnership, which is backed by August Equity. 

“This was the first deal that we completed outside of a classic long term fund structure and is also the first to be exited,” Duke Street partner Charlie Troup said in the statement. “We believe that the sale, originated and negotiated by Duke Street, has demonstrated the attractiveness and viability of a deal-by-deal model for our investors and us.”

Duke Street adopted the deal-by-deal model in 2012 after it failed to raise a fund following the economic downturn, Private Equity International reported. 

The last fund the firm raised was Duke Street Capital VI, a 2006 vehicle that closed at €963 million, according to PEI Research & Analytics.

In March, the firm sold its controlling stake in consumer payments company Payzone Ireland for between €30 million to €40 million, as reported by PEI. Duke Street acquired a majority stake in its parent company, the then AIM-listed Payzone Group, in 2010 before taking it private. The firm restructured the business and has disposed of its Cashzone unit and Payzone businesses in Sweden and Greece, netting a 2x return on its partial exit, as reported. It retains Payzone’s UK and Romanian units. That investment was made through its sixth fund.

In June 2014, Duke Street sold 35 percent of its management company to France’s Tikehau Capital, as reported by PEI.