Cognetas divests support services business

Cognetas backed the original MBO of GSL in 2004 in a £207m (€309m) transaction. At the time, Cognetas underwrote equity and debt to facilitate certainty for the vendor with an initial commitment of £105m (€158m) on behalf of Cognetas Fund I. this was reduced within two months to £54m (€81m) by introducing senior debt. The balance of the funding was provided by Englefield Capital.

Since then Cognetas has supported the management in the implementation of a growth plan that has seen revenues increase from £291m in 2004 to over £400m in 2007 through organic growth.

GSL is a provider of outsourced support services to public authorities and corporate organisations worldwide. Services are typically provided under long-term contracts (5 to 30 years) either directly to the end customer or through joint ventures and Public Private Partnerships with governments and corporates. GSL has operations in the UK, South Africa and Australia.

Its service offering covers three areas: custodial services including prison management, escorting, immigration, custody and training; public services, for example healthcare, education and local authority services; and business services, comprising utilities, office accommodation and other managed services.

Nigel McConnell, managing partner of cognetas, said: “We are delighted to be associated with the success of GSL over the past three years and we are pleased to see that the dynamic management team has built the business into a worldwide quality provider of outsourced services. We leave the business on extremely sound and robust grounds which will help sustain its continued growth. I am confident that ebbing part of a larger global business like G4S will take this business forward to a new level and I wish them well.”

Cognetas was advised by UBS and Ashurst. The Cognetas team on this transaction comprised Nigel McConnell and Robert Clarke supported by Johannes Meran. Cognetas has office in Frankfurt, London, Milan and Paris and advises funds of €2.26bn. The investment team has a long track record of investment in the following sectors: business services, industrial, consumer related industries, financial services and healthcare services and equipment.