WHP is the leading provider of end-to-end services for the planning, design, acquisition, deployment, upgrade and maintenance of mobile network masts, antennae and base stations for all major UK mobile operators. Employing over 440 people and headquartered in Warrington, the business operates nationally with sites in Leeds, Glasgow, Birmingham and Heathrow.
WHP has grown significantly since Palatine invested in 2015 with turnover increasing from £30m to almost £75m forecast in the current year to May 2018. With a customer base committed to further investment, new enhancements such as 5G and the introduction of new technologies, the company is well placed to continue this growth for the foreseeable future.
Equistone will take a majority stake in the business. The deal follows the close of the firm’s €2.8bn Fund VI, which is targeting buyouts valued between €50m and €500m.
Palatine has achieved a 3 x return on its initial investment and will co-invest for a minority stake alongside Equistone and the management team, which continues to be led by chief executive Rob Potter.
Equistone partner Steve O’Hare and investment directors Andi Tomkinson and Seb Leusch led the transaction. Both Andi Tomkinson and Seb Leusch will join the WHP board as Non-Executive Directors.
Andi Tomkinson, investment director at Equistone, said: “WHP is the clear market leader in both scale and breadth of services and has demonstrated strong growth during the past few years. The business is exceptionally well placed for continued organic growth and we will also look at strategic acquisition opportunities over the coming months. We look forward to working with and supporting Rob and the wider team through the next phase of growth.”
Rob Potter, chief executive of WHP Telecoms, said: “The UK telecoms market is performing strongly, with continued investment in networks. During this time, we have invested in our highly skilled team and infrastructure in order to deliver excellent quality, efficiency and value to our customers.
“I very much look forward to working with Equistone to further develop our offering – delivering innovation with a focus on high levels of service. We would also like to take this opportunity to thank Palatine for the support they have provided so far, and we look forward to continuing our work with them as we take our business to the next chapter.”
Andy Lees, partner at Palatine Private Equity, said: “It has been a pleasure working with Rob and the management team over the past few years. The business has successfully capitalised on the continued investment in the telecoms sector and is now firmly positioned as a market leading player.”
A team at Clearwater International led by Mike Reeves provided corporate finance and debt advice, with Chris Heatlie at BDO providing financial due diligence and Charles Murray at Analysys Mason providing commercial due diligence.
Paul Medlicott and Jemma Clarke at Addleshaw Goddard provided legal advice to Equistone, while Nick Hatton and Seema Ahmedabadi from PwC provided tax advice.
The management team was advised by Convex and Mills & Reeve and Gregg Davison at Pinsent Masons.