Great Hill pays $60m for SMART stake

US buyout firm Great Hill has taken an undisclosed stake in a US consulting business, amid growing demand for business and financial advisory services.

Great Hill Partners, a US mid-market buyout firm, has bought a $60 million (€44 million) stake in SMART, a US business consulting firm with international aspirations.

The size of the stake was not disclosed, but SMART recorded revenues of about $100 million in 2006, suggesting that it represents at least a sizeable minority share in the business.

SMART, which was founded in 1998, specialises in accounting intensive consulting services – solving financial and operational business problems through an accounting-based approach. It also offers tax and compensation consulting.

The business has benefited in the last few years from the booming global markets, which have boosted the demand for advisory work. The big four accounting firms have traditionally dominated this market, but companies have increasingly looked to seek out alternative providers.

As a result, SMART has been able to grow at more than 40 percent per annum for the last ten years, and now employs over 650 people across 15 locations. This month it opened its first office in the UK – its second international outpost following the opening of an Amsterdam office in 2005. It is hoping to double the size of its London team in each of the next two years.

Christopher Gaffney, managing partner at Great Hill Partners, said: “Our analysis of the marketplace, the strength of SMART’s management team, and the scope and quality of its offerings all pointed to an extremely attractive opportunity for Great Hill.”
Great Hill, a Boston-based buyout firm with about $1.5 billion under management, typically invests in the business and consumer services, media, transaction processing and software sectors. The firm is currently investing from a $750 million fund, Great Hill Equity Partners III.