Case Study: CEGA Group

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Deal size:
£31m
Transaction:
Company Sales & Acquisitions
Sector:
Insurance Services
Deal completed:
July 2016
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About the deal

Founded in 1973 by Clive and Graham Ponsford, for over four decades, CEGA has been the outstanding emergency assistance service behind some of the UK's largest insurers, corporate bodies and public sector organisations. 
 
In July 2014 driven by the desire to retire and pursue other interests, Clive and Graham met Meridian Corporate Finance (“Meridian”) to assess their options as equity holders.  A year long process culminated in July 2015 with CEGA concluding an exciting point in their history, a management buyout led by their new Group Chief Executive, Alistair Hardie, who was introduced to the business by Meridian.  

Alistair picks the story up from there, “I was introduced to Meridian by a PE house that I was working with, looking for an opportunity.  Mike (Michael Barcia) at Meridian knows the Insurance claims market really well and by chance he was working with CEGA.  Mike recognised the fit of my skill sets with what the business needed, introduced me to the business and structured a deal that worked for all parties, resulting in the MBO in July 2015.
 
As part of that transaction Mike took a place on the CEGA Board, supplementing the financial skillsets that the business already had, with an eye to a future exit.  Also, as a result of the transaction we were approached by several trade buyers who expressed an interest in the business, and whilst, probably ahead of our original timeframe Mike and I embarked on discussions with several of the parties.  For both of us Charles Taylor’s culture and fit with our clients stood out and we are delighted to have concluded a transaction with them.”
 
The move promises exciting post-Brexit international growth prospects and a strengthened UK position for CEGA’s south-coast operation, which will continue to be run by its current management team. The firm’s CEO Alistair Hardie will report to Charles Taylor’s Group CEO David Marock, and will also join the Group’s executive committee.
 
Charles Taylor Plc have stated that the acquisition will enable it to offer new services to its clients and establish deeper relationships with global insurers. It also forms part of the Group’s overall business strategy of delivering growth organically and through investments.
 
Alistair adds, “I have to admit, that having engaged with CF advisors before Meridian, I was unsure as to the value that they add to a process, however Mike and his team at Meridian do things differently, creating innovative solutions and structures that lead to win-win transactions for all involved.  They introduced us to all the other advisors on the transaction and added real value over the course of the deal; a great example of how corporate finance advisors should give advice.”

The transaction finally sees Clive and Graham Ponsford end a 43 year history with CEGA.  

Commenting on the transaction Clive said, “We met with Michael two years ago and have been on an incredible journey completing two transactions along the way.  Right from the word go, Michael provided us with honest, sound advice explaining our options to us and then introducing us to Alistair Hardie who took on the role of Chief Executive, hence the completion of the management buy-out.

Alistair was a great fit with CEGA and has taken the company from strength to strength.  We then faced our next stage of the journey which culminated in the sale.  This was an arduous process with a few hurdles, but with Michael’s flexibility and ability to think outside the box, he and Alistair were able to structure a deal, with Charles Taylor Insurance Services.  

The marriage of the two companies is an immaculate fit, which quite honestly suits everyone involved, including all staff members as well as shareholders, creating excellent opportunities for all.  

This transaction completely exceeded my expectations and it is a great feeling to meet with existing team members and new team members knowing that they too feel exactly the same.  Thank you to Michael and the whole Meridian team, it has been an absolute pleasure working with you.”
 
Shoosmiths and Blake Morgan provided legal advice, with corporate partner, Stephen Porter, worked closely with the directors at Meridian Corporate Finance, Michael Barcia and Darren Thompson to support the CEGA management team through the negotiations.  
 
Michael Barcia comments “It’s a great feeling to see a deal structured at the MBO stage work so well through a trade sale and work for everyone involved.  We pride ourselves in giving the right long term advice and it’s a tribute to our team that we have so many extremely satisfied clients.”

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Founded in

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Right from the word go, Michael provided us with honest, sound advice explaining our options to us and then introducing us to Alistair Hardie who took on the role of Chief Executive, hence the completion of the management buy-out.

Clive Ponsford , CEGA Group