Equistone Partners Europe celebrates 40th anniversary
Equistone Partners Europe (“Equistone”), one of Europe’s leading mid-market private equity investors, has reached its fortieth anniversary. Since its inception, Equistone has invested €9 billion of capital across more than 400 companies, including over €3 billion to support the growth of mid-market businesses in the UK over four decades, as well as over €2.5 billion in each of its other core markets of France and German-speaking Europe.
Founded in 1979 as Barclays Development Capital Limited, the firm was established by parent company Barclays Bank to provide new or replacement equity capital for private companies through minority investments and, later, management buyouts. Beginning in London, the business subsequently launched offices in Paris in 1990 and Munich in 1998, having expanded in the UK regions through offices in Birmingham and Manchester. Originally funded from the Barclays balance sheet and through a third-party financing arrangement, in 2002 Barclays Private Equity (as the business had been renamed) announced the closing of its first managed fund at €1.25 billion. Almost a decade later, Equistone emerged as an independent firm following a management buyout from Barclays in 2011 and is currently investing its sixth fund, after announcing the closing of Equistone Partners Europe Fund VI at €2.8 billion last year.
At 40 years old, Equistone is one of the longest-established investors in both the UK and wider European private equity market. Its UK investments have included the £75 million buyout of a motor insurance business in 1998 that subsequently floated as Admiral Group at a valuation of c.£750 million, generating an approximately 20x return for Equistone’s investors, and the €360 million management buyout of travel-related payment services provider Global Blue (then Global Refund) in 2007, sold in a €1 billion transaction in 2012. Equistone has evolved in tandem with private equity as an asset class, which has become a crucial source of funding for mid-market businesses in the UK and a mainstay of institutional investors’ portfolios. From an effective standing start in 1979, the European buyout market grew to annual deal activity worth €120 billion in 2018, according to data from CMBOR at Imperial College Business School, sponsored by Equistone and Investec Corporate and Investment Banking.
Steve O’Hare, Senior Partner and UK Country Head for Equistone, commented: “During its 40 years of operating in the UK, Equistone has built a proud track record of supporting the growth of mid-market businesses and played a crucial, often unseen role in numerous entrepreneurial success stories. We strive to maintain the same values of discipline, integrity and invention that guided the business’s founders back in 1979, in order to best serve both our investors and the companies that we back. As Equistone enters its fifth decade, we have the right team, firepower, experience and long-term outlook to keep successfully funding outstanding UK businesses and talented management teams for many years to come.”
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