Isis Equity Partners, the private equity unit of Isis Asset Management, is close to completing a deal to acquire UK independent market research group Mori in a deal valuing the business at around £50m.
The firm is in exclusive talks with UK private equity firm 3i, according to The Times, having beaten off competition from Phoenix Private Equity and Aegis, the media company.
3i backed a management buyout of the business in 2000, with debt financing from Royal Bank of Scotland. The original size of the buyout was not disclosed. Bob Worcester, who founded Mori in 1969, retained a 20 per cent stake in the business, while management and staff took 39.5 per cent. 3i currently holds a 41 per cent stake.
Mori has provided market research services for a broad range of blue chip clients, including both major political parties in the UK, the BBC, BP and Nokia. Last year the business reported turnover of £36m and EBIT of £5.1m. In 1999, the year prior to the 3i deal, Mori reported turnover of £21.6m.
Isis and 3i declined to comment on the talks.
Isis Equity Partners is currently raising its third fund, Isis Equity Partners III, which held a second close on £151m, ahead of a scheduled final close at the end of the year. The fund will make equity investments of between £2m and £30m in UK based companies with enterprise values of between £5m and £50m.