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Law firm advises on secondary buyout

LAW firm Ward Hadaway has advised on a private equity-backed secondary buyout at an SME support service provider.

The Top 100 UK law firm provided legal advice to the management team at Optionis on the Warrington-based company’s secondary buyout.

The transaction sees previous Optionis private equity backer Inflexion sell its stake in the company for an undisclosed sum.

Private equity firm MML Capital Partners backed the management team at Optionis on the deal.

The Optionis group comprises employment services provider Parasol, small business and contractor support specialist ClearSky and cloud-based-sales performance management software Silverline.

Optionis employs around 250 staff across sites in Warrington, Greater Manchester, London, Poole and Dorchester. This number is expected to reach 350 by March 2016 after the investment.

MML, which has offices in London, New York and Paris, has invested more than $2bn across 12 countries during the last 25 years.

Optionis chief executive Rob Crossland said: “This deal will support our goal of sustainable growth over the long term, as we look to establish ClearSky as the fixed-fee support provider of choice for Britain’s small businesses, and leverage Parasol’s expertise in workforce management to grow that business.

“MML is a world-class investment firm, with a track record of partnering with thriving companies and supporting their growth ambitions. We are delighted to be teaming up with them.”

Derek Kelly, managing director at Optionis, added: “There are 4.8m SMEs in the UK, accounting for 99% of all businesses, so the growth potential for a support provider with the necessary expertise and a unique offering is huge. I believe we fit the bill, which is why we’re forecasting significant revenue and volume growth in the coming months and years.”

Richard Mayers, investment director at MML, said: “We are very pleased to back this exceptional management team led by Rob and Derek, and are hugely excited by the opportunities for Optionis as an outsourced business services provider to the SME sector.”

Ward Hadaway Corporate Partner Katherine Hay-Heddle led the firm’s team advising on the transaction, with support from Corporate Solicitor Harriet Sutherland.

Members of Ward Hadaway’s specialist employment and tax teams also worked on the deal.

Katherine Hay-Heddle said: “We are delighted to have assisted the management team at Optionis on this transaction which promises to open up new opportunities for the group.

“We were able to bring our significant recent experience of advising on a range of other private equity deals to this transaction to ensure that it progressed to a successful conclusion.”

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