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National league table “shows private equity’s continued sway over UK firms”

The annual league table featuring the UK’s 100 private equity-backed companies, the Sunday Times Deloitte Buyout Track 100, demonstrates that private equity continues to create plenty o

The annual league table featuring the UK’s 100 private equity-backed companies, the Sunday Times Deloitte Buyout Track 100, demonstrates that private equity continues to create plenty of jobs for British workers, according to the survey’s authors.

The league table features private equity-backed companies with the fastest-growing profits measured over the latest two years of available figures, with September 2008 being the latest financial year end from which audited figures are featured.

It therefore mainly measures performance in the months leading up to the credit crunch.

London-based architectural consultancy Foster and Partners takes the top spot. It is responsible for such iconic architectural projects as the Swiss Re Tower – popularly known as the Gherkin. 3i invested an undisclosed sum for a minority stake to fund the company’s rapid expansion in May 2007. It has driven profit growth of 147 per cent a year from GBP8m in 2006 to GBP49.2m in 2008.

The rest of the top ten is made up of: Lowell Group; Giles Insurance; LK Bennett; Codemasters; ghd; London City Airport; Tensator Group; MTL Group; and Viking Moorings.

The combined profits of the 100 companies ranked on this year’s Sunday Times Deloitte Buyout Track 100 exceeded GBP1.4bn.

Together they have added more than 25,000 staff over the latest two years, and they employed a total of 84,469 in their latest accounts to 2007/2008.

Profit growth ranges from 147 per cent to 29 per cent a year. Nearly half (48) of the companies have profits of more than GBP10m.

More than a quarter (26) of the companies was bought by private equity houses in 2008; 27 were bought out the previous year; 40 of the companies are the result of primary deals; and another eight arose from public-to-private transactions.

The other 52 companies are the result of secondary (43) and tertiary (9) deals.

Nearly a third of the 100 companies are headquartered in London (30) and another fifth are in the Midlands (20).

Outside of the top ten, well-known private equity-backed brands featured on the league table include noodle bar operator Wagamama, backed by Lion Capital; travel website operator The Trainline, backed by Exponent; and yacht builder Sunseeker International, backed by Bank of Scotland Corporate.

Travel, hospitality and leisure businesses were the biggest sector on the league table, accounting for 17 firms.

Telecoms, media and technology services are also well represented with a total of 14 companies on the table.
Mark Pacitti, partner in corporate finance at Deloitte, the title sponsor of the league table, says: "This research highlights some of the success private equity-backed businesses are achieving in Britain. Despite the difficult market, private equity investors remain strong supporters of local business and we wouldn’t expect this to change in 2009."

The Sunday Times Deloitte Buyout Track 100 also features a list of the biggest ten private equity-owned companies with the fastest-growing profits, where the latest profits exceed GBP50m.

The biggest ten is headed up by Merlin Entertainments, the Poole-based visitor attraction company behind Alton Towers and Madame Tussauds, which has grown profits by 208 per cent a year from GBP17.8m in 2005 to GBP£168.2m in 2007.

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