LDC secures 2.4x return on Forrest exit

LDC has partially exited its investment in Northern social housing regeneration specialist Forrest, following a secondary buyout backed by Palatine Private Equity.

The transaction provides Palatine and LDC with a combined majority stake in the business and represents a 2.4x return on LDC’s original investment.

Bolton-based Forrest is a leading provider of essential refurbishment and responsive maintenance services to the social housing market in the North of England. Over the last three years Forrest has established a renewables division becoming one of the first registered installers under the Government’s Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation (ECO) initiatives. The business also undertakes new build development and estate renewal services for its core social housing customer base.

The company works with major social housing clients including Bolton at Home, City West Housing Trust, Salix Homes and Blackpool Coastal Homes. While the company predominantly works in the North West it also has clients in Yorkshire, the North East and the South West of England.

The company employs around 500 people and also operates a responsive maintenance division from a site in Leeds. Forrest is led by chief executive Lee McCarren and managing director Mark Lyons. Bob Holt, chairman of social housing company Mears Group plc, will become non-executive chairman. Current chairman Robert Morgan will leave the business.

Since LDC backed the company in 2007, Forrest has seen its turnover grow from £38million to over £100million. The business has also since launched a new environmental services division, opened a regional service centre in Bolton and has made a number of senior board appointments with the support of LDC.

Forrest now boasts an order book worth £1.2bn after sales grew by almost 50 per cent in 2012.

Jonathan Bell, Director and Co-Head of LDC in the North West, who will remain on the board at Forrest, said: “We have supported Forrest’s consistent growth in the social housing support services sector and its transition into the leading regeneration specialist in the North of England. We are committed to working with Palatine to continue to support the business as it further develops its environmental services offering and targets new framework opportunities.”

Lee McCarren, Chief Executive Officer, Forrest, said: “LDC, led by Jonathan Bell, have been a hugely supportive partner for the business over the past six years. With Palatine alongside us as an additional investor, we can continue to drive improvements in the quality of our customer service offering, as well as developing more new and complementary service lines. This on-going strategy has been the key to our many consecutive years’ growth and to our strong, long-term customer relationships.
“On behalf of the business, I’d like to thank Robert for his invaluable counsel and for the time and energy which he has invested into Forrest since he became our chairman. He has played an influential role in the company’s recent successes.”

A team at Deloitte, led by partner Paul Trickett, advised LDC and management, on the deal, while Manchester-based Partner Jodi Birkett provided financial due diligence. David Crout at PMSI Consulting provided commercial due diligence. Dave Foreman, a partner at Praetura Capital provided banking and financial services.

RBS (Tony Dean and James Adams) and Santander (Chris Thomas and Paul Wickers) provided senior debt and working capital facilities of £26 million to support the transaction.

LDC and management received legal support from DWF’s Jonathan Robinson and Darren Ormsby, while Rebecca Grisewood of Gateley advised Palatine. Richard Oman of Addleshaw Goddard advised the banks. Management due diligence was carried out by the Quinn Partnership with Marsh carrying out insurance due diligence.

Notes to Editors

  1. LDC is the private equity arm of Lloyds Banking Group and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.  
  2. LDC backs ambitious management teams from UK-based medium sized companies seeking up to £100m of investment to fund management buyouts or development capital transactions.
  3. LDC invests in a broad range of sectors and has particular experience in Healthcare, Industrials, Retail & Consumer, TMT, Travel & Leisure, Support Services, Construction & Property and Financial Services.
  4. LDC has a UK regional network with locations in Aberdeen, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Newcastle, London, Manchester, Nottingham and Reading.