Speculation over the possible sale of Azzurri ahead of a planned floatation became reality last Friday as the company was acquired by PPM Capital, the private equity arm of Prudential plc for a cash consideration of £182.5 million.
Azzurri was formed in June 2000, when 3i Group plc invested £25 million in the Company for a majority stake. Working closely alongside the management team, 3i helped the Company achieve its first phase of development including the integration of the 15 strategic acquisitions which make up the business today.
PPM Capital and the Azzurri management team led by Chief Executive, Martin St Quinton will work together to deliver the next stage of the strategy aimed at creating a major independent national company offering the full range of converged voice and data services. The focus will be on strong organic growth augmented by potentially larger acquisitions. This is a strategy which PPM Capital has successfully followed with previous investments.
The Company will remain headquartered in Newbury, Berkshire, aiming to grow its workforce, currently 800 strong around the UK, in line with its planned expansion.
Martin St Quinton, Chief Executive, Azzurri, said: “We have always felt that Azzurri has a very exciting future and we looked at a number of strategic options to deliver the next stage of our development. We have been very impressed with PPM’s enthusiasm and commitment to working in partnership with us to continue to grow the Company both organically and through acquisition.
“We think this is great news for our employees, customers and partners. I am particularly pleased that we have been able to reward every single member of staff with a pay out through our share trust scheme. I would like to take this opportunity to thank 3i which has been a loyal and supportive shareholder throughout and integral to the success we have achieved so far.”
Commenting on the sale to PPM, 3i Partner Julian Davison added: “We have worked closely with Martin St. Quinton and the Azzurri management team over the past six years to help them acquire businesses which would in turn create a platform capable of generating strong organic growth. Azzurri is now the leading converged voice and data communications provider in the UK and we’re delighted to hand over the baton to PPM to take Azzurri into the next logical phase of its development.”
James Barton, Director, PPM Capital said: “Our key investment criterion is the quality of the management team and with Azzurri we are working with the best in the industry. They already have a strong track record and we believe that our partnership with them will deliver outstanding results in this fast growing sector.”