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Key Capital Partners exits WHP for 4.1x return

WHP Group, a major provider of support services to the mobile telecoms sector, has completed a £38m secondary buyout to Palatine Private Equity, which sees Key Capital Partners (KCP) achieve a 4.1x return on exit.

Warrington-based WHP, which currently employs over 275 staff, provides end-to-end services for the deployment, upgrade and maintenance of mobile network masts, antennaes and base stations for leading operators including H3g, EE and Vodafone. The business operates on a national basis with operations in Leeds, Glasgow and Reading.

Since, KCP’s £3 million investment in June 2013, WHP has grown significantly with revenue up from £17m to almost £30m and profits increasing similarly.

As part of the investment, KCP partner Peter Armitage joined the board as non-executive director and David Goldie, former chief executive of TalkTalk, was introduced as non-executive chairman.

The buyout will see Palatine Private Equity invest in the business with a £16m investment for a majority share, helping to accelerate its nationwide growth strategy. Palatine partner, Andy Lees, will join the board of company as non-executive director.

Rob Potter, managing director at WHP Group, said: “The UK telecoms market has been very strong over the last few years. Our capacity to offer efficient services and our continued investment in a highly skilled team has enabled us to capitalise on this opportunity and increase our share of the market. KCP brought a wealth of business experience to the table and has provided exceptional support over the last two years, helping to set the business up for its next stage of growth. We look forward to welcoming Palatine on board as a partner during this exciting time.”

Peter Armitage, partner at KCP, added: “Over the past 22 months, it has been a privilege working with the WHP management team. In just a short space of time, the company has nearly doubled both turnover and profitability and now boasts some of the most high profile clients in the sector. In Palatine, we have found an ideal partner to continue the company’s ambitious growth strategy and we’re certain the firm is in good hands.”

Andy Lees, partner at Palatine Private Equity, commented: “This is a very exciting time for the business. WHP has moved quickly to develop its team and its service offering to meet the demands of a rapidly expanding mobile telecoms market. With consumers’ desire for more data and better connectivity, WHP is very well placed to benefit as the mobile operators invest further in their infrastructure.”

WHP will continue to be supported by RBS, which has provided total debt facilities of £16m.

Palatine was advised by Tim Clarke of Park Place Corporate Finance with Pinsent Mason providing legal advice and Analysys Mason providing commercial due diligence.

Chris Froggat of Convex Capital and Chris Moss of JMW advised WHP and KCP.

Other advisers on the transaction included BDO (financial due diligence and tax), The Berkeley Partnership (operational review), The Quinn Partnership (human capital review), Marsh (insurance due diligence) and Baker Tilly (tax due diligence).

Posted on May 05, 2015