To celebrate its 25th anniversary of leading corporate finance deals, HMT is reminiscing on 10 notable transactions from its 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 1990s when Andrew Thomson advised Wells on his first transaction: the MBO of CD, a direct marketing business. Wells successfully ran CD for 11 years and in 2001 sold it to Dutch postal operator TNT (now PostNL).
In 2004, PostNL saw an opportunity in the new postal regulations and asked Wells to lead the charge with Royal Mail and build TNT Post. Wells 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. Wells decided to once again lead a management buyout. Having worked with HMT previously, Wells recommended Ian Barton as corporate finance adviser on this transaction. Barton 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, Wells, Nigel Graham Polglass (COO), Manoj Parmar (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 Deals Awards.
Since the MBO, Whistl has continued to grow and HMT has recently supported it 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 its position in its core market of business mail and door drop media while growing in parcels both domestically and internationally. Wells and his team are also looking at additional potential acquisitions where HMT will be able to help.