Portfolio News

LDC exits The Creative Engagement Group to strategic trade buyer Huntsworth PLC

Leading mid-market private equity firm LDC has exited its investment in The Creative Engagement Group (“TCEG”) in a strategic trade sale to Huntsworth plc, an international healthcare and public relations communications group. The deal is at an enterprise value of £25m.

TCEG is a group of three creative agencies – WRG, The Moment and Just Communicate – that provide experiential marketing, including events, digital marketing, virtual and augmented reality. The group serves an international client base of blue chip companies and has significant expertise in the healthcare sector, along with professional services, banking, leisure and tourism.

LDC originally invested in creative agency WRG in August 2011, and during its investment period the business completed three acquisitions, including Just Communicate in 2016. WRG was integrated with The Moment, a spin-out of LDC portfolio company TwoFour Group, in 2016 creating the combined business TCEG.

For Huntsworth, the deal will significantly strengthen its ability to provide high quality digital creativity to its healthcare clients. It will also see TCEG benefit from access to the group’s existing client base and support the future international growth of the business, particularly in the US.

The TCEG management team is led by CEO Russ Lidstone and COO David Sharrock, both will remain with the business.

Rob Powell, Director at LDC, said: “We’ve worked in partnership with Russ and David to develop a strongly differentiated group at the forefront of creative and experiential marketing. This deal is not only testament to the strength of TCEG’s proposition, but also to the quality and depth of the team, and TCEG’s future growth prospects. We wish them every success in their next phase of development.”

Russ Lidstone, CEO of TCEG, said: “After spending much of my career in creative agency holding companies, my first foray into private equity was with LDC. Within eighteen months and thanks to LDC’s strategic, financial and operational support, we completed an acquisition; integrated three businesses; created a new holding company; truly differentiated our market positioning and strategic plan; and exited to Huntsworth, a strategic trade buyer.

“The journey of transformation has been a hugely positive one and resulted in the right exit for our team and for the next stage of our growth.

“This is a truly exciting development for TCEG. The opportunity to offer clients an even more integrated view of how to engage audiences is compelling. Our teams at WRG, The Moment and Just Communicate are genuinely thrilled to be joining Huntsworth.”

LDC and TCEG were supported by Clearwater International (Michael Reeves, Michael Loudon, Emma Rodgers, James Kennedy and Chiara Pettinicchio) as M&A lead advisers,  Addleshaw Goddard (Paul Medlicott and George Danczak) as legal advisers and KPMG who completed vendor financial (Chris Stott) and tax due diligence (Stephen Heath and Chris Wilson). 

Article Footnotes

Notes to Editors

  1. LDC is part of the Lloyds Banking Group and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority
  2. LDC back ambitious management teams from UK-based companies seeking between £2m and £100m of equity for management buy-outs, institutional buy-outs or development capital transactions.
  3. LDC invests in a broad range of sectors and has particular experience in Construction & Property, Financial Services, Healthcare, Industrials, Retail & Consumer, TMT, Travel & Leisure and Support Services.
  4. LDC has a UK regional network of 9 offices.