Gresham books 2x return on Swift sale

The UK firm has now realised most of the investments in the £235m Gresham Fund III, after selling specialist oil and gas recruitment provider Swift to US firm Wellspring.

Gresham Private Equity, a UK lower mid-market firm, will sell recruitment firm Swift Technical Group to Wellspring Capital Management

Financial details of the transaction were undisclosed, but a source with knowledge of the situation said the exit will generate more than a 2x return multiple for Gresham.

Swift is a specialist recruitment provider for the global oil and gas industry. It provides services ranging from personnel selection to complete mobilisation in countries as diverse as Azerbaijan, Australia and the USA. Swift has operations across 23 specialist offices covering 35 countries, and provides personnel services for approximately 180 clients. Under Gresham’s ownership, Swift entered international markets including Australia, Canada, China, Ghana, Korea, Kuwait and Singapore. It also opened six more offices in North America. 

Wellspring is investing in the company from its fifth buyout fund that closed on $1.2 billion in 2011. The investment marks Fund V’s second platform investment of 2013 after the acquisition of customised wheelchair company National Seating & Mobility in January. Wellspring previously invested in the oil and gas services sector by acquiring OMNI Energy Services Corp, which it sold in 2012.

Gresham partner James Barbour-Smith said in a statement that the company was “poised to continue its growth” under Wellspring’s ownership.

Gresham has completed a number of solid exits recently. Earlier this year, it sold training company 7City for approximately £90 million, netting the firm a 3x return. In 2012, Gresham reaped a 4x return on its sale of energy and environmental business Olaer in April 2012, and a 3.9x return when it sold Marston Group, a provider of enforcement services, in June 2012.

It is understood that following the exit of Swift, the majority of investments in Gresham’s £235 million Fund III will have been realised. PEI reported in July that Gresham’s third fund was understood to have delivered LPs a 2.2x return so far. 

Gresham is likely to raise its fifth fund next year, PEI exclusively reported in July. Gresham’s current fund, a £340 million 2006 vintage, is almost fully invested but has capital left for add-on acquisitions.