Equistone acquires tech-driven Nexus from Phoenix

Equistone acquires tech-driven Nexus from Phoenix

17 Jan 2023

Mid-market private equity firm Equistone Partners Europe (“Equistone”) has acquired a majority stake in Nexus Vehicle Rental (“Nexus”), a leading B2B vehicle rental aggregator platform, from Phoenix Equity Partners (“Phoenix”). The management team, led by David Brennan, John Ellis and Alex Cook, will continue to lead the business. The financial terms of the transaction are undisclosed.

Leeds-based Nexus operates an asset-light business model, providing a broad range of corporate, credit hire and leasing customers with access to the UK’s largest rental supply chain, with 550,000 vehicles across 2,000 locations through its proprietary IRIS tech platform. Since inception 22 years ago, the company’s sustained growth has spurred it on to become one of the UK’s leading tech-driven business mobility providers, having reached over 4 million rental bookings in 2022.

Since Phoenix Equity Partners invested in 2018, Nexus has experienced strong growth and demonstrated its resilient business model through the pandemic. Nexus has recently diversified into the plant hire and taxi market, as well as investing further in Nexus Connect, a unique mobile application that streamlines the rental process for end-users whilst on the move. Nexus is also planning to launch several other product developments in 2023 to support the changing mobility requirements of its customer base.

The Equistone investment was led by Partner Andi Tomkinson, Investment Director Seb Leusch and Investment Manager Will Copeland, who will work alongside Nexus’ management team on the next stage of the journey. Equistone typically invests between €25m and €200m in mid-market companies. 

Andi Tomkinson, Partner at Equistone, said: “Nexus operates a unique business model very effectively, and provides a great service to its customers and suppliers where the attractiveness of its proposition has been demonstrated over many years.  The business, led by an impressive management team, has navigated the challenges presented by the pandemic and the vehicle supply shortage admirably, demonstrating its resilience and its ability to provide a top-quality service to its customer base to whom vehicle supply is often ‘mission-critical’. Equistone’s Manchester office has been tracking Nexus for a number of years and we’re excited to be partnering with the team in its next phase of growth.” 

David Brennan, Executive Chairman at Nexus, added: “Over the past four years, we have grown significantly. Phoenix has been a fantastic partner, helping us to meet our ambitions and supporting us through the pandemic. Equistone’s investment sets us up for our next exciting chapter of growth as one of the UK’s leading tech-driven mobility providers. Not only does it demonstrate the confidence in the business, but it is testament to the outstanding performance of our senior management and wider team.”

Tim Dunn, Partner at Phoenix, said: “We have backed a number of technology-driven platform businesses in recent years, and the Nexus story is emblematic of what we try to achieve with them. The business has gone from strength to strength: expanding its service offering, growing the senior executive team, winning new customers, and further developing its digital platform, IRIS.  The Nexus team has been a joy to work with over the last four years and we know that David, John, and all their colleagues will continue to prosper with their new partner, Equistone. We wish them all the best for the future.”

Equistone was advised by Rothschild & Co (lead advisory), Simon Kucher (commercial due diligence), Deloitte (financial and tax due diligence), Crosslake (tech due diligence), PwC (tax structuring) and Addleshaw Goddard (legal).

Nexus and its shareholders were advised by Houlihan Lokey (lead advisory), OC&C (commercial due diligence), KPMG (financial and tax due diligence), Endava (tech due diligence) and Travers Smith (legal). Management was advised by Park Place Corporate Finance, Deloitte and Squire Patton Boggs. 

Ares Management funds will continue to support the business as a lender, with Dechert providing counsel to Ares.

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