Lambert Smith Hampton’s three biggest guns have led a £46.5m management buy out from parent company Atkins.
Contracts for the buyout, by chief executive Mark Rigby, chairman Bruce Brown, and national head of investment Ezra Nahome – the firm’s leading fee-earner, were exchanged last night.
Bank of Scotland Corporate provided funding for the deal, which will be followed by a later sale of shares in the business by the buyout team to other staff in the firm.
Rigby said: ‘We have completed this deal to give LSH control and ownership of its own future, and to make that future an even better one for our staff and clients. We’re delighted with the deal and to be back running our own ship.
‘Our first priority was to achieve a clean, swift and seamless exit from Atkins with minimal disruption to the business and services to our clients.’
Atkins bought LSH in the late 1990s as part of an attempt to create a construction to property `one-stop-shop’.
However, this plan was never successfully fulfilled, and was hampered by Atkins’ own problems in the early part of the decade which saw a profit warning, its share price collapse and former finance director Ric Piper left.
Former LSH chief Chris Boulton attempted his own MBO in early 2004, but this failed when he failed to win enough support from fellow directors.
Following this, LSH stalwart Rigby returned to the business, and has worked successfully to turn it around, capitalizing on its strength in corporate real estate and its strong national network.
Andy Powell, director of integrated finance at Bank of Scotland, said: ‘LSH has incredible strength and depth in its market and we look forward to working with the management team to grow the firm.’
The deal was announced today with LSH’s 2007 year-end results which showed profits before tax of £9.3m, up 90% on last year. Turnover increased 14% compared to 2006.
Its key contract wins last year included its professional services team reappointment by the BBC and Hertfordshire County Council and Essex County Council.
LSH also bought two regional specialists last year - Poolman Harlow in Swansea and Young & Butt in Fareham and Southampton.
The company has also appointed Clive Williams, a former senior partner at Ernst and Young, as a non-executive director.