Risk warning: The value of investments and derived income can fall. Investors may get back less than they invested.

Growth Intelligence secures £1.5m of venture debt funding from Shard Credit Partners

Growth Intelligence has secured £1.5m of funding from Shard Credit Partners through its UK technology-focused venture debt fund. This marks the third investment made by Shard Credit Partners’ new fund, and the first since its successful first close which was announced in June 2022.

Growth Intelligence helps B2B marketers, who have struggled to accurately and completely define their audiences, run more efficient and creative digital-first campaigns. With the world’s richest data on SMEs, Growth Intelligence allows marketers at blue-chip, global clients including American Express and Vodafone, to run ABM at scale for the first time.

The Company has won numerous awards and has received backing from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency.  Growth Intelligence has been experiencing rapid growth over recent years and generated a 100% year-on-year revenue increase for 2021-2022.  The funds raised will be used to support sales team expansion, product development and expansion into new markets planned for the coming year.

The investment is in line with Shard Credit Partners’ strategy to target borrowers with annual recurring revenues of at least £2.0 million, operating in the B2B SaaS and fintech sectors and benefiting from long term customer contracts.  Its focus is to provide flexible venture loan capital in support of sales growth, through increased expenditure on marketing initiatives. Previous investments include PassFort, which generated a total gross IRR of 249.2% in just six months (1.8x multiple on invested capital) and Rezatec.

Venture debt is becoming increasingly popular with high growth technology companies globally in recent years.  The asset class is highly developed in the United States, having positively tracked the strong growth in the venture equity market during the last two decades.  The venture lending market is in its infancy in the UK and remains an area that is materially underserved, which has created an opportunity for innovative private credit managers to raise dedicated technology venture debt funds.

Market demand for venture debt in the UK is being driven on the back of very strong growth in the technology venture capital sector over the past decade, which now comprises approximately 13,000 post series A technology companies.  This represents a significant addressable market opportunity for specialist UK technology venture debt funds, such as the one launched by Shard Credit Partners Limited.

William Chappel, Head of Venture Debt for Shard Credit Partners Limited, said, “We are very excited to provide financing support to Growth Intelligence. We’ve been looking to work with this business for some time now and we’re delighted to complete this investment. Growth Intelligence has an enormously exciting offering, and we can’t wait to work closer with Tom, James and the wider team as the business continues to grow. This is a great addition to the Shard Credit Partners UK Tech focused Venture Debt fund.”

Tom Gatten, CEO of Growth Intelligence commented, “Growth Intelligence’s goal is to cement its position as the only platform offering account based marketing at scale — across the U.S. and the U.K. The opportunity for businesses to acquire new customers digitally is growing post-covid, yet most marketing leaders struggle to confidently define their ICP and total addressable market, which leads to high digital ad spending, slow growth, and low conversions. We’re here to solve this problem and transform B2B marketing by enabling large enterprises and mid-sized companies to build, scale and launch account-based marketing programs at scale. This latest round of funding will help support Growth Intelligence to invest in our own commercial team and become a global account based marketing champion and are pleased to have received this venture debt from Shard Credit Partners.”

Alastair Brown, Chief Executive of Shard Credit Partners, commented, “Our investment in Growth Intelligence marks the third investment from our new venture debt strategy.  The investment team, led by Will Chappel, has a strong pipeline of opportunities and we expect the pace of deployment to continue through the summer months, supporting positive fundraising momentum as we approach subsequent fund closes through the remainder of 2022.”

Shard Credit Partners Limited is currently in advanced discussions with several UK and international institutional investors with regard to participating in subsequent fund closes throughout summer 2022.  The target fund size at final close is £75 million, with a hard cap at £100 million, by June 2023.

Shard Credit Partners Limited has a strong focus on ESG across all its private credit investments and has historically been a strong supporter of female entrepreneurs and firms with meaningful female leadership, ownership, and senior management.  No less than 80% of its investee companies have female board representation and 60% have mixed sex equity ownership, a direct result of Shard Credit Partners Limited’s implementation of ESG covenants and ESG margin ratchets in its loan agreements and investment documentation as standard.

Legal advice to Shard Credit Partners was provided by Orrick LLP, led by Partner Scott Morrison and supported by Hridi Chowdhury.

 

 


About Shard Credit Partners Limited:     
Shard Credit Partners Limited is an alternative investment fund manager focused on private credit strategies in the UK lower mid-market.  Its funds seek to generate superior risk-adjusted returns from conservatively structured senior secured credit investments with equity upside. Fund strategies include SME direct lending and tech-focused venture debt.

Shard Credit Partners Limited is currently investing from its debut direct lending fund Shard Credit Partners Fund I, which held a first close in October 2017 at £90.2 million.  Shard Credit Partners Limited plans to hold a first close on its second UK lower mid-market direct lending fund during Q4 2022.

Shard Credit Partners Limited invests in solid small to medium sized businesses with strong management teams, supporting them by providing transformative growth capital and event driven financing in support of innovation, growth, and expansion. The funds invest in businesses throughout the UK.

Recent investments include the venture debt financing for Rezatec Limited in August 2021, the refinancing and shareholder reorganisation of Midwest Mechanical and Electrical Services Ltd in August 2021, as well as the financing in support of the acquisition of The Technology Group by Gradwell Communications in March 2021. The SME direct lending fund also funded the MBI of JST Services Ltd in Scotland, the MBO and buy-and-build strategy of eQuality Solutions Ltd in the North-East of England, and the MBO of Chameleon Technology (UK) Ltd in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, each of which completed in December 2020.

In 2020, Shard Credit Partners Limited ranked eighth in the Debtwire UK Direct Lender league table published by Acuris. Shard Credit Partners Limited was recently awarded Alternative Finance Provider of the Year 2021 (North-East region) at the Insider Media Dealmakers Awards.

Shard Credit Partners Limited is an Appointed Representative of Shard Capital AIFM LLP, authorised and regulated by the FCA (number 615463).

 


Contact details:

Newgate Communications

 

Elisabeth Cowell / Robin Tozer / Isabelle Smurfit

Email: shardcapital@newgatecomms.com

 

Shard Credit Partners Limited

 

Head of Business Development: ben.ellis@shardcreditpartners.com

Investor relations:   IR@shardcreditpartners.com

Business:    info@shardcreditpartners.com

Website:    www.shardcreditpartners.com

Shard Credit Partners provides £900K in support of the acquisition of The Educational Guidance Service Ltd by eQuality Solutions Ltd.

Shard Credit Partners has provided financing of £900K to portfolio company eQuality Solutions Ltd (“eQS”) to facilitate the acquisition of expert psychology business The Education Guidance Service (“EGS”).

eQS is a leading disability, diversity and inclusion specialist, headquartered in the North East. The group specialises in the support of students that qualify for an annual grant under the Disabled Students Allowance (“DSA”), as they enter higher education within the UK. The acquisition of EGS is the third acquisition by eQS in only ten months since the primary Management Buy-Out (“MBO”) in December 2020, as the group successfully executes its M&A buy-and-build strategy with the financial firepower being provided by the Shard Credit Partners.

EGS is based in Halifax, West Yorkshire, and has over 40 employees. The company was established over 22 years ago and is one of the largest providers of educational and occupational psychologists. EGS provides services to children, young people and adults who experience specific learning difficulties and social and emotional barriers both within educational settings and the workplace.

Due to EGS’ complementary capabilities, the combined group will benefit from positive synergies by building on eQS’s disability services division, which provides specialist assistive technology equipment, software, training and mentoring in the education, workplace and government sectors.

EGS will add £1.7 million of revenue and c. £250K of EBITDA to the Group and will increase the number of employees to c.80 in addition to 350 freelance psychologists, consultants, trainers, and delivery engineers across the UK. This acquisition, combined with the completion of two recent acquisitions, strongly positions eQS to achieve £30 million turnover by 2023.

The acquisition financing was arranged by Shard Credit Partners as part of a committed £12 million senior secured unitranche facility provided in December 2020 in support of the primary MBO of eQS and to provide firepower for strategic acquisitions.

Andy Gough, CEO of eQS views this acquisition as being pivotal to the group’s ‘buy-and-build’ growth strategy and in becoming the leading global provider of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) solutions. Andy commented: “The past couple of years have not only seen a global health crisis but also an awakening regarding inclusion and acceptance of individuals identifying with a cognitive disability. This has created an even bigger demand for cognitive disability assessments within both the educational and workplace settings.

EGS is a leader in this market and quickly became our top choice for our next acquisition due to its capability and outstanding reputation. Upon first meeting with EGS founder Alex Griffiths, it was clear EGS is a strong strategic fit for the Group, aligning with our purpose and mission. I believe we share a mutual passion for helping people achieve their best by removing barriers. I am looking forward to welcoming the EGS team into the eQS family and believe we will achieve great things together.”

EGS founder Alex Griffiths said: “I have had many organisations interested in acquiring EGS over the last couple of years but eQS was the only acquirer I seriously considered for the business.  The eQS team stood out as down to earth people who understood what we were about and demonstrated a clear passion for looking after the EGS brand and developing it in the ‘EGS way’.  There was a synergy between our business culture and values, and a very obvious desire to look after the exceptional team who have helped us create this legacy of doing good and unlocking potential.”

Alastair Brown, CEO of Shard Credit Partners, commented: “We are pleased to continue to support our investment in eQS with additional funding to complete this important acquisition. As a lender we are very focused on supporting the environmental, social and governance agenda and very much look forward to the ongoing growth and development of eQS and EGS as they move together continuing with their great work.”

Advising eQS on the acquisition were Corporate Financiers Carl Swansbury, Rhiannon Nightingale, Connor McBride and Ben Kain of Newcastle-based RG Corporate Finance (RGCF), with financial and tax due diligence delivered by Grahame Maughan and Simon Whiteside of RG.

Legal advice was provided by Corporate Partner Tom Pollard and Corporate Solicitor Liam Stubbs of Ward Hadaway LLP.

Shard Credit Partners’ strategy is to become a leading provider of capital to entrepreneur and management-owned companies, VC backed growth businesses and private equity-owned companies focused on achieving transformational growth and expansion in the UK regions. During the past four years, Shard Credit Partners has invested more than £130.0 million in supporting regional Management Buy-Out transactions and M&A buy-and-build acquisition strategies, as well as growth capital expenditure financing.


About Shard Credit Partners:

Shard Credit Partners Ltd is an alternative investment fund manager focused on private credit strategies in the UK lower mid-market.  Its funds seek to generate superior risk-adjusted returns from conservatively structured senior secured credit investments with equity upside. Fund strategies include direct lending and tech-focused venture debt.

In January 2021, William Chappel joined Shard Credit Partners to launch the Venture Debt strategy which will be focused on senior secured loan investments in businesses in the Software as a Service (“SaaS”) and Fintech markets across the UK tech sector.  Shard Credit Partners plans to hold a first close on its new Venture Debt Fund in Q4 2021.

Shard Credit Partners is currently investing from its debut direct lending fund Shard Credit Partners Fund I, which held a first close in October 2017 at £90.2 million.  Shard Credit Partners plans to hold a first close on its second UK lower mid-market direct lending fund during Q1 2022.

Shard Credit Partners invests in solid small to medium sized businesses with strong management teams, supporting them by providing transformative growth capital and event driven financing in support of innovation, growth and expansion.  The fund invests in businesses across all sectors and throughout the UK.

The firm has a robust ESG focus; in particular, it is a strong supporter of female entrepreneurs and firms with meaningful female leadership, ownership and senior management.

Recent investments include the venture debt refinancing of PassFort Limited in May 2021, the venture debt financing for Rezatec Limited in August 2021, the financing in support of the acquisition of The Technology Group by Gradwell Communications in March 2021, as well as the refinancing and shareholder reorganisation of Midwest Mechanical and Electrical Services Ltd in August 2021. The fund completed financing transactions for the MBI of JST Services Ltd in Scotland, the MBO and buy-and-build strategy of eQuality Solutions Ltd in the North-East of England, and the MBO of Chameleon Technology Ltd in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, each of which completed in December 2020.

In 2020, Shard Credit Partners ranked eighth in the Debtwire UK Direct Lender league table published by Acuris. Shard Credit Partners was recently awarded Alternative Finance Provider of the Year 2020 (North-east region) in the Insider Dealmakers Awards.

Shard Credit Partners Ltd is an Appointed Representative of Shard Capital AIFM LLP, authorised and regulated by the FCA (number 615463).

 

 

 

Contact details:

Newgate Communications

 

Tel: Elisabeth Cowell / Robin Tozer / Isabelle Smurfit

Email: shardcapital@newgatecomms.com

Shard Credit Partners Investor relations:   IR@shardcreditpartners.com

Business:    info@shardcreditpartners.com

Website:    www.shardcreditpartners.com

 

Shard Credit Partners provides £7.0 million for a transformational debt refinancing and shareholder reorganisation of Midwest Mechanical and Electrical Services Ltd.

Shard Credit Partners has provided financing of £7.0 million to facilitate a transformational debt refinancing and shareholder reorganisation of Midwest Mechanical and Electrical Services Ltd (“Midwest”).

Midwest, headquartered in Wolverhampton with c.120 staff, was founded by Steve Lokucewicz in 1988 as a small electrical contracting business providing maintenance and project services to a selection of local clients within the West Midlands. In the following years, the business grew consistently and started to develop its strong reputation for timely and high-quality project delivery. In 2002, Steve’s son Paul Lokucewicz joined the organisation and laid the foundations to allow further organic growth by expanding the customer base across construction, defence and the NHS. Midwest is renowned for its strong, longstanding relationships with its customers and for providing solutions on complex mechanical and electrical engineering projects from design and installation through to ongoing building maintenance following project completion.

The transaction refinances existing lenders and allows the exit of original founder Steve Lokucewicz as he fully retires from the business. This facilitates increased equity ownership for Paul and the management team that has been creating significant value in recent years following their successful MBO in 2019, as well as improving the gender diversity of the board composition which is an important ESG focus for Shard Credit Partners and Midwest. Midwest is entering an exciting growth phase in the coming years with a strong orderbook and high-profile project opportunities in the pipeline.

Paul Lokucewicz, Managing Director of Midwest said: “The Midwest Directors were extremely pleased to welcome Shard Credit Partners on board to assist with the refinancing of our MBO allowing us to bring the wider management team into the board room. This has provided us with a platform to further fuel the growth of the business, the refinancing process was extremely smooth and we found that the Shard Credit Partners team quickly understood our business and its needs”.

Alastair Brown, CEO of Shard Credit Partners, commented: “Our recent refinancing of Midwest represents our first transaction in the West Midlands and our tenth investment from Direct Lending Fund I. Having been extremely impressed with Paul and the senior management team during early discussions, we identified an opportunity to put forward an innovative refinancing structure that was ultimately well received and successfully implemented during the summer. We are also pleased to have made an impact from an ESG perspective by facilitating the appointment of Natasha Coates to the board around the time of the transaction. We all look forward to supporting the business and contributing to its stellar growth trajectory in future”.

Greg Easter, Partner at Heligan Group said: “We are delighted to have worked with Midwest and Shard Credit Partners on this deal.  Midwest is an owner managed business that has grown very impressively over the last ten years through high quality customer service and investment in people.  The financing and support from Shard will enable the business to continue this growth through the incentivisation of key management team members. The approach taken by Shard Credit Partners throughout the process made them excellent to deal with: the team showed flexibility in structuring a deal that worked for all parties and a straightforward approach to negotiating the transaction documents”.

Legal advice to Shard Credit Partners was provided by Gateley Legal, led by Banking & Finance partner Andrew Madden, supported by Victoria Elliott and William Bowler from Gateley Legal’s Corporate team. Legal advice to Midwest was provided by Shoosmiths.

Business and transactional tax advice was provided by Ryecroft Glenton’s Business Tax Partner Simon Whiteside and Director, Simon Hopwood. Financial due diligence was provided by Ryecroft Glenton’s Grahame Maughan, Jon Routledge and Andrew Cameron.

Shard Credit Partners’ strategy is to become a leading provider of capital to entrepreneur and management-owned companies, VC backed growth businesses and private equity-owned companies focused on achieving transformational growth and expansion in the UK regions.  During the past four years, Shard Credit Partners has invested more than £130 million in supporting regional Management Buy-Out transactions and M&A buy-and-build acquisition strategies, as well as growth capital expenditure financing.

 


 

About Shard Credit Partners:

Shard Credit Partners is an alternative investment fund manager focused on private credit strategies in the UK lower mid-market.  Its funds seek to generate superior risk-adjusted returns from conservatively structured senior secured credit investments with equity upside. Fund strategies include direct lending and tech-focused venture debt.

In January 2021, William Chappel joined Shard Credit Partners to launch the Venture Debt strategy which will be focused on senior secured loan investments in businesses in the Software as a Service (“SaaS”) and Fintech markets across the UK tech sector.  Shard Credit Partners plans to hold a first close on its new Venture Debt Fund in Q4 2021.

Shard Credit Partners is currently investing from its debut direct lending fund Shard Credit Partners Fund I, which held a first close in October 2017 at £90 million.  Shard Credit Partners plans to hold a first close on its second UK lower mid-market direct lending fund during Q1 2022.

Shard Credit Partners invests in solid small to medium-sized businesses with strong management teams, supporting them by providing transformative growth capital and event-driven financing in support of innovation, growth and expansion.  The fund invests in businesses across all sectors and throughout the UK.

The firm has a strong ESG focus; in particular, it is a strong supporter of female entrepreneurs and firms with meaningful female leadership, ownership and senior management.

Recent investments include the venture debt refinancing of PassFort Limited in May 2021, the venture debt financing for Rezatec Limited in August 2021, the financing in support of the acquisition of The Technology Group by Gradwell Communications in March 2021, as well as the MBI of JST Services Ltd in Scotland, the MBO and buy-and-build strategy of eQuality Solutions Ltd in the North-East of England, and the MBO of Chameleon Technology Ltd in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, each of which completed in December 2020.

In 2020, Shard Credit Partners ranked eighth in the Debtwire UK Direct Lender league table published by Acuris. Shard Credit Partners was recently awarded Alternative Finance Provider of the Year 2020 (North-east region) in the Insider Dealmakers Awards.

 


 

Contact details:

Newgate Communications

 

Tel: Elisabeth Cowell / Robin Tozer / Isabelle Smurfit

Email: shardcapital@newgatecomms.com

Shard Credit Partners Investor relations:   IR@shardcreditpartners.com

Business:    info@shardcreditpartners.com

Website:    www.shardcreditpartners.com

Alastair Brown interviews Richard Jennings, Managing Director of JST Services (Scotland) Ltd

In December 2020, Shard Credit Partners announced it had provided acquisition financing of £12.0 million in support of a management buy-in (“MBI”) acquisition of JST Services, led by new MD and port sector veteran, Richard Jennings.

Fast forward to September 2021 and Shard Credit Partners’ CEO, Alastair Brown, catches up with Richard Jennings, Managing Director at JST Services (Scotland) Ltd.

Below, Alastair interviews Richard on how JST Services (Scotland) Ltd has been operating since the acquisition, what achievements have been made, as well as what the future outlook looks like.