WESTBRIDGE has backed the management buyout of APEM Limited, Europe’s leading independent environmental consultancy specialising in the aquatic environment and remote sensing.
The deal has seen WestBridge invest £9.8 million in a combination of equity and loan notes, which will support the company’s growth ambitions as it develops complementary service lines to support its clients’ needs.
Established in 1990, APEM provides environmental consultancy, laboratory services, field surveys and remote sensing capabilities to a range of sectors including water, power, engineering, construction and transport.
The business is considered the thought-leader in its niche with clients that include blue chip companies, government bodies and regulatory authorities, such as the Environment Agency and DEFRA.
Headquartered in Stockport and with a turnover of £10 million, APEM has eight offices across the UK, one in Germany and one soon to open in the USA, all supported by over 100 highly qualified staff.
The transaction was led by Guy Davies and Valerie Kendall, founding partners at WestBridge, who will both join the board, supported by investment managers Edward Minton and James MacLeay.
Valerie Kendall said: “This is exactly the type of authoritative business we like to invest in and, most importantly, the chemistry with the team feels right. We are very much looking forward to working with Adrian, Stuart and their colleagues, who are acknowledged experts in this fast-growing niche sector.
“Although APEM is already successful, we have collectively identified areas of untapped potential to help grow the business further, both organically and through acquisition.”
Guy Davies added: “APEM is a well-respected and well-run business providing a number of essential services that are resilient to market forces and underpinned by government policy and regulation, which is becoming increasingly stringent.
“We are also delighted with the work undertaken by the Dow Schofield Watts team, led by Peter Barkley, who supported WestBridge with this transaction. Their strong environmental consulting M&A credentials assisted us greatly.”
Dr Adrian Williams, managing director at APEM, said: “We are delighted to conclude this deal. As well as enabling us to develop a wider suite of specialist services across the UK, it allows us to exploit the huge growth potential presented by the US offshore wind market.
“We were impressed with the WestBridge team and feel our respective strengths herald an exciting future. We are looking forward to partnering with WestBridge over the next few years.”
Yorkshire Bank provided senior lending and working capital facilities to the group. Jane Hartley, senior director, said: “The team at APEM are influencers in their field – their expertise and approach is extremely well-respected and there is huge potential to take the business forward. At Yorkshire Bank, we are committed to supporting SMEs in the north west grow and develop and it’s an exciting time to be working with such an impressive business, like APEM, as they look to the next stage of their journey, including expanding their international presence.”
Peter Barkley and Thomas Dutton of Dow Schofield Watts Corporate Finance provided bid support and debt advisory to WestBridge. Peter Barkley commented: “We are delighted to have assisted WestBridge in making this investment and to have worked with them and management in developing their joint vision for the future of APEM. WestBridge’s experience and ambition combined with APEM’s outstanding reputation is a great fit and we look forward to seeing the business continue to grow.”