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ECI makes 8x return on ClarityBlue

ECI Partners has sold ClarityBlue to Experian, a subsidiary of GUS plc, for £85m. This represents an 8x multiple on ECI’s investment in two and a half years.

ClarityBlue designs, builds and manages marketing databases for large companies with millions of customers.

ECI backed a £10m MBO of the business in 2003 from Nasdaq-listed Sand Technology. Since ECI’s investment ClarityBlue has grown rapidly, establishing itself as a key service provider to blue chip clients such as Barclaycard, Orange, Wanadoo and BSkyB. Sales have grown over 40% per annum from £11m in 2003 to approximately £30m this financial year. The company currently employs over 165 staff.

ECI provided strategic and financial support to ClarityBlue throughout the investment period and introduced Andrew Vaughan, previously CEO of Workplace Technologies, as chairman at the time of the buyout.

The ClarityBlue exit continues ECI’s track record of success in the IT sector. ECI’s previous successful IT investments include Guardian iT, NCC and OSI. Its current investments in the sector include WCI, Anix and EDM.

ClarityBlue was invested in by ECI’s 7th fund. This fund, which was established in 2000, achieved the successful realisation of Tragus (Café Rouge and Bella Italia) in 2005 and following the sale of ClarityBlue has now returned 75% of called capital to investors.

ECI was advised by Hawkpoint (Christopher Darlington and Graham Paton) and Travers Smith (Edmund Reed).