Livingstone’s Business Services sector team has advised Core Equity Holdings on its investment in idverde, the European leader of green space creation and maintenance services. The existing management team headed by President Hervé Lançon is reinvesting significantly and will lead the group’s next development phase. Livingstone supported Paris-headquartered idverde with its buy-and-build growth strategy since the management team acquired the French ‘green’ services activities of multinational facilities management group ISS’s backed by investor Chequers Capital.
The Livingstone team was engaged to help management build a UK green services business of scale from scratch to match the group’s market-leading French activities. Between 2015 and 2017, the firm originated and advised on three UK acquisitions – The Landscape Group, Quadron Services and Land Engineering – to create a nationwide operation with a No.1 position in the local authority green space maintenance market.
Since the original buy-out from ISS in 2014, group revenues have grown from $333m to $530m; the UK now accounts for one third of idverde’s total sales. Established by a group of seasoned Bain Capital investors in 2017, Brussels-based Core is a private equity fund with a difference: it backs ambitious management teams with ‘platform’ businesses focused on industry consolidation strategies for up to 10 years. This compares with an average PE investment period of four to five years. Core raised the largest fund – $1.23bn – of any newcomer PE investor in 2017.
Hervé Lançon commented: “After four exciting years with Chequers Capital, we have achieved our goal of putting idverde on a new growth trajectory. We will continue to pursue our consolidation strategy, and the investment by Core provides the opportunity to accelerate our growth in new countries and lines of business. Our focus is, and will continue to be, on creating and maintaining well-being spaces everywhere in Europe. Our team of 5,000 colleagues is proud to partner with such a strong and patient shareholder.”
Marc Valentiny, Partner at Core, added: “We are very impressed by what Hervé and his team have accomplished since their Chequers-backed buy-out and are thrilled to be able to support them in the next phase of their journey towards building a pan-European champion. This partnership is very much aligned with our strategy of providing long-term capital to ambitious management teams and enabling them to actively grow their business, both organically and through acquisitions.”
Jeremy Furniss, Partner at Livingstone, added: “It was clear to us very early on that Core’s unique investment strategy and longer term horizon was a perfect match with the idverde management team’s growth strategy. The time invested by Core to understand the green services sector, and its agility and willingness to commit resources upfront, provided Chequers and management with the confidence to choose them as the most suitable backer for idverde moving forward.”