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Business as usual at Parasol and ClearSky following investment

The secondary buyout (SBO) enables the Optionis management team, led by chief executive Rob Crossland, to increase its stake in the business to 50%.

Managing director Derek Kelly emphasised that clients would not notice any difference in their day-to-day dealings with Parasol and ClearSky from an operational and transactional perspective.

He said: “I would like to reassure our existing clients and partners across all businesses within the group that they will see no changes to our service, ethos or pricing structure as a result of this deal.

“The investment is designed to support our growth plans in the SME space, pure and simple.”

Parasol, the UK’s largest professional employment organisation (PEO), provides outsourced employment solutions to recruitment firms including Hays, Adecco, Alexander Mann Solutions, Capita Resourcing and LA International.

ClearSky Accounting is the UK’s 87th largest accountancy firm. Fee income for the year from April 2012 – March 2013 was up 42.7% on the previous 12 months.

ClearSky attracted more than 1,600 new clients – many of them Limited company contractors – over the same period.

As well as Parasol and ClearSky, the Optionis group is home to cloud-based sales performance management software Silverline. Group turnover for the current financial year is forecast to be &pound335m.

The SBO has been backed by MML Capital Partners, a leading independent investment firm with more than $2bn invested across 12 countries during the last 25 years.

The deal provides an exit for private equity firm Inflexion, which backed an original management buyout in 2006.

The MML-backed investment comes as Optionis looks to establish its ClearSky Business brand as a & lsquo;one-stop shop’ for SMEs seeking fixed-fee support and advice on business functions including accountancy, human resources, employment law, tax and payroll.

Optionis chief executive Rob Crossland said: “As a management team we are excited to be re-investing in, and emphasising our commitment to, the group.

“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.”

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

EY, Taylor Wessing, Ward Hadaway, Grant Thornton and DWF advised on the deal. Bank financing was provided by HSBC’s Manchester-based Leveraged Finance team. 


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