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KCP invests in telecoms support provider WHP Projects

Key Capital Partners, the private equity firm focused on smaller buyouts, has led a GBP3m equity investment in WHP Projects, a provider of support services to the mobile phone industry.

As part of the transaction, Royal Bank of Scotland, led by Stuart Watson, director of the corporate transactions team, has in addition provided a term loan and a revolving credit facility to support future working capital requirements.
WHP supports mobile operators in their moves to strengthen coverage across the UK. The business provides end-to-end services for the deployment, upgrade and maintenance of mobile network masts, antennae and base stations for leading operators such as Everything Everywhere, the owner of T-Mobile and Orange.
KCP’s investment will support WHP in capitalising on major imminent changes in the UK mobile phone market. All major operators are investing to support the rollout of the superfast 4G network and some are consolidating estates and sharing masts to improve coverage.
WHP’s head office is in Warrington and the company also has sites in Wakefield and Bellshill, near Glasgow. Turnover, which was GBP9.2m in the year to 31 May 2012, reached GBP17m this year. The company employs 105 people.
KCP’s investment in WHP was led by partner Peter Armitage and director Mark Buttler. As part of the investment, David Goldie, former chief executive of TalkTalk, has been appointed WHP’s non-executive chairman and Armitage joins the board as non-executive director. They will support the existing management team of managing director Rob Potter, operations director Paul Hullah and commercial director Martyn Cheyne.
Potter says: “We have spent several years building WHP Projects into one of the leading providers of support services to mobile phone operators, nurturing key relationships and investing to ensure the business has the capacity to service the market. We were impressed by KCP’s approach to the deal and their sharing of our vision for the next five years of growth.
“The UK mobile phone market will see large-scale investment as infrastructure isupgraded to support wider and better quality coverage and the business is now in a great position to be part of that. With KCP’s investment and the experience of David Goldie as our new chairman, all involved with WHP can be confident and excited about our future.”
Armitage says: “WHP is operating in an exciting, fast-changing market. This investment leaves it perfectly positioned to capitalise on developments in the next three to five years, in particular the rollout of 4G across all major network providers.
“A key focus for the company following the investment will be supporting operators as they look to consolidate and grow their estates and we will be looking to increase WHP’s work share with all the major network providers. With its experienced team of surveyors and engineers, WHP has the expertise to exploit the organic opportunities in the market.”
The management of WHP were advised on the transaction by Chris Froggatt and David Gardner of Convex Capital in Manchester. A team from the Manchester office of BDO, led by Chris Heatlie, provided financial due diligence advice to KCP. Nicola Frost and Alastair Mackinnon of DWF provided legal advice to KCP, and ChrisMoss of JMW was legal adviser to management. Commercial due diligence was provided by Analysys Mason.

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