Gresham hits mark with £105m IT deal

UK mid-market firm has seen off trade competition to win backing of ICM Computer Group’s board in take-private deal.

Gresham Private Equity, a UK mid market private equity specialist, has fought off interest from a trade buyer to win backing for its bid to take ICM Computer Group, an IT company, private.

The buyout firm has made a 100 percent cash offer worth £105m, which should end ICM’s spell on the London Stock Exchange.

Phoenix, a rival IT group, had been mulling a bid via a court-driven scheme of arrangement, which depends on a board recommendation, but now looks an unlikely suitor.

Gresham now needs 75 percent of shareholders to approve the offer, which according to a source is “a more straightforward route than a scheme”.

It is also a victory for private equity as a job creator, according to Mike Henebery, Gresham’s managing director. He said: “Our bid is all about continuity for customers and staff. We are looking to increase the size of the business substantially. The trade bidder is talking about £5 million of cost-savings.”

The business employs over 750 staff and has over 2,000 customers including clients such as Carphone Warehouse, Yell and Cheshire Building Society.

ICM was founded in 1986 and made fourteen acquisitions from 1986 to 2002 before floating in 1998 on the main market of the London Stock Exchange.

Steve Wainwright, chief executive, and Craig Fairey, finance director, will
remain with ICM.

The management team will be further strengthened with the introduction of a new chairman Richard Connell, who was chairman of 2e2, an IT services provider that Gresham exited in September 2006.