10 deals of HMT – the MBO of Whistl
To celebrate its 25th anniversary of leading corporate finance deals, HMT is reminiscing on 10 notable transactions from our archives. Having completed over 500 deals, producing a shortlist of 10 has not been easy but the MBO of Whistl led by CEO Nick Wells has certainly made the list.
The connection between HMT and Whistl dates back to the early 1990’s when Andrew Thomson advised Nick on his first transaction: the MBO of CD, a direct marketing business that was part of an agency group. Nick was 31 at the time, starting a family and a career as a business owner. Nick successfully ran CD for 11 years and in 2001 sold it to Dutch postal operator TNT (now PostNL).
In 2004 big changes to the postal market in the UK and in Europe enabled the liberalisation of mail services. PostNL saw an opportunity in these new regulations and asked Nick to lead the charge with Royal Mail and built TNT Post. Nick and his team grew the business organically to reach £600 million turnover. In 2014, TNT Post in the UK rebranded to become Whistl.
In 2015, PostNL was looking to tailor its international strategy. Nick’s entrepreneurial spirit was revived and he decided to once again lead a management buy-out. Having worked with HMT previously, Nick recommended Ian Barton as corporate finance adviser on this transaction. Ian and his team were involved throughout the process, worked on the structure of the MBO and facilitated the deal from the beginning to the end. In November 2015, Nick, Nigel (COO), Manoj (CFO) and the rest of the management team acquired 82.5% of Whistl with bank facilities from RBS Reading and PostNL retained 17.5%. The MBO of Whistl was one of the most significant transactions in the South of England that year and won Deal of the Year at the 2016 Thames Valley Deal Awards.
Since the MBO, Whistl has continued to grow and HMT have recently supported them on the acquisition of e-commerce operator Prism DM providing lead advisory, tax advisory and due diligence services on this transaction.
In 2016, Whistl handled 3.7 billion items of mail and is the market leader in downstream access mail services. The business is looking to continue to consolidate their position in their core market of business mail and door drop media whilst growing in parcels both domestically and internationally. The latest acquisition in the e-commerce fulfilment market will further strengthen and grow the business. Nick and his team are also looking at additional potential acquisitions where HMT will be able to help.