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EQT's and Goldman’s ISS appoints chairman

Sir Charles Allen, the former chairman of EMI and CEO of ITV, joins at a time when the Danish group's private equity owners are gearing the business up again for an IPO.

ISS, the Danish cleaning services company owned by EQT Partners and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners, has appointed Charles Allen as chairman. 

A former head of UK rival Compass Group and media company ITV, Allen will replace Ole Andersen, who’s held the chairmanship for more than eight years. Henrik Poulsen, the former head of Danish telecom group TDC, also is joining as a member of the board. 

Both executives have prior experience working for a private equity-owned company. Allen was chairman of EMI Music between 2008 and 2010. EMI was the troubled music label acquired by Terra Firma Capital Partners that was seized by creditors and is still the subject of an ongoing legal battle. 

Sir Charles Allen

Poulsen was TDC’s chief executive and president between 2008 and 2012, a period during which it was under the joint ownership of Apax Partners, Permira, The Blackstone Group, Providence Equity Partners and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts. The consortium, which took over the company for €10.2 billion in 2005, partially exited the business via an IPO in 2010. Poulsen also was an operating partner at KKR before joining TDC. 

Allen and Poulsen join ISS at a time when EQT and Goldman gear ISS up for an IPO again, after several attempts to divest the business. The buyout pair, which bought ISS for around €3.1 billion in 2005, first thought of listing the company in 2007, but later cancelled the float amid turmoil on the financial markets. They then nearly sold it to Apax in 2011 for $8.5 billion, a deal that later collapsed when EQT and Goldman reaffirmed their preference for the IPO route.  

Their latest attempt to fully divest the business dates to November of the same year, when a £5.2 billion (€6.8 billion, $8.1 billion) sale to trade player G4S unraveled in the face of opposition from the latter’s shareholders. EQT and Goldman have since sold a minority stake in the business to Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and Kirkbi Invest, the family office behind the LEGO toy brand, and are poised to be targeting an IPO for 2014. 
Founded in Copenhagen in 1901, ISS is the world’s largest facility services company. With more than half a million staff, it is also said to be the world’s largest private sector employer. It generated DKK79.5 billion (€10.7 billion, $14.2 billion) in revenues and DKK4.4 billion in operating profits last year. 

EQT and Goldman Sachs together continue to own a 73 percent stake in the business, while OTPP and Kirkbi now hold a joint 26 percent share.