Phoenix buys Nationwide Autocentres

Nationwide Autocentres, the UK independent MOT and car servicing specialist, has been sold by its current management and NBGI Private Equity (NBGIPE) to Phoenix Equity Partners. The value of the transaction amounts to £49m (US$85m).

As part of the transaction, Duncan Wilkes, Bill Duffy and Andy Stevens have been recruited by Phoenix to join the Company as Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer respectively.

The team had previously worked together at the RAC, where they had a strong track record of improving customer service levels, building and marketing brands and developing corporate relationships.

Described as a classic buy and build story, Nationwide was NBGI’s first investment in January 2001, when it invested less than £3m to buy 41 vehicle service centres from Lex Autocentres. More than £5m has since been invested to add branches from the RAC in 2002, Kwik-Fit (Stop ’n Steer) in 2003 and AA Service Centres in 2004. It now operates 213 branches. According to sources close to the deal, NBGI’s return amounted to a 72% IRR and a cash-on-cash multiple of 10X.

NBGIPE was launched in June 2000 and the Autocentres sale represents NBGIPE’s third exit in 12 months. Phoenix Equity Partners manages four private equity funds with capital exceeding £500m and focusing on investments in mid-market UK businesses.