ECI picks up Investis from Gresham

The UK-based firm has acquired the digital services business for approximately £50m

ECI Partners, a UK-based mid-market private equity firm, has bought Investis, a digital corporate communications business, from Gresham Private Equity.

Financial details of the transaction weren’t disclosed, but the enterprise value was approximately £50 million, according to a source familiar with the matter. Debt finance was provided by Clydesdale Bank, ECI said.

It is unclear what return the sale will yield for Gresham. The firm did not respond to a request for comment at press time.

Based in London, Investis provides digital services that enable companies to manage their corporate communications and investor relations. Investis currently works for more than 70 percent of the companies in the FTSE 100 and a total of nearly 2,000 clients across Europe and the US. Its clients include Alibaba, Anglo American, GE, BAE Systems, BMW, Capita, Chevron, EasyJet, GDF Suez, Novartis, Prudential and Rolls Royce.

In the last two years, Investis has expanded rapidly by opening offices in New York, San Francisco, and Palm Beach, Florida and through the acquisitions of global3digital in the UK and Alert IR in the Nordic region. The funding from ECI will enable Investis to build on this success and to establish itself as the global leader in its market, the firm said.

“As a growth focused investor we were attracted to Investis by its market leading technology, strong management team and global platform, attributes that have driven its market penetration,” Richard Chapman, a partner at ECI, said.

ECI made the transaction using capital from ECI’s Fund 9, a £437 million (€557 million, $698 million) vintage. This is the last deal from this fund. In September, the firm closed its tenth fund on its £500 million (€626 million, $823 million) hard-cap having spent just five months in market.

Gresham has been realising its existing portfolio after the firm dropped plans to raise another fund in June. In October, it sold James Grant Group to Metric Capital Partners. In June, Gresham sold Just Trays to Maven Capital Partners, while in April, Gresham broke even on its investment in bottle manufacturer Esterform Packaging.

That divestment came shortly after one of Gresham’s portfolio companies, West Cornwall Pasty Company, went into administration. The Cornish pasty business has since been snapped up by Enact, a £7.5 million fund launched by UK turnaround investor Endless earlier this year.

Gresham closed its Fund IV on £340 million in 2006, during the pre-crisis fundraising bubble. One source told Private Equity International in March that in hindsight the fund was too large, and pushed the firm into larger deals than it was prepared for.