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Europa acquires United Utilities FM

26 February 2008

Europa Support Services has acquired United Utilities FM, the FM division of United Utilities. The move will see the 280 United Utilities FM staff transfer to Europa Support Services to make a total workforce of about 1,800.

Europa Support Services’ core business is in retail and property management sectors with clients including Capital Shopping Centres, CBRE, KPMG, Land Securities and Bullring. The United Utilities FM has a strong customer base in the public sector and utilities including Northern Gas Networks, Welsh Water, Scottish Water and Hertforshire County Council.

Europa will now be able to deliver a fully integrated range of management and FM services nationally across the retail, property, public and corporate sectors, and have the capability to tender for contracts with a higher contract value. The enlarged business is expected to generate revenues of more than £60m in 2008.

Europa’s MD, Martin Jones, will take CEO role and United Utilities. John Entwistle and David Pollock are both managing directors of the two divisions formed as a result of the deal with UU plc - John is responsible for Europa FM and continues to manage the UUFM work under the Europa banner, whilst David manages Europa Facilities Solutions focussing on Europa’s existing customers. Billy Allen, formerly MD of EJ Steill (acquired by Alfred McAlpine in 2002) is non-executive chairman of the combined business.

This acquisition is backed by H.I.G. Europe, the European affiliate of H.I.G. Capital, a leading global private equity firm specialising in providing capital to small and medium-sized companies. The overall value of the transaction was £25m.

No redundancies are anticipated in the short term as a result of the integration, and work to bring the two company cultures, systems and staff together has already begun with two weeks of ‘road shows’ about the new company and a staff conference planned.

Commenting on the acquisition, Jones said, “We are integrating the two businesses to make the supplier and employer of choice. It is not just about growing turnover but also about developing cultural values and ambitions to create a company to challenge the top six and give more choice in the market.

“This is a major strategic step forward for Europa. Following two years of significant organic growth this deal accelerates our expansion plans and allows us to better serve our current customers as well as win new blue chip clients. The United Utilities team share our people based culture and bring with them a set of new skills and great customers. It is great to have them on board. It is a very exciting time for everyone concerned and I am looking forward to an exciting 2008 when Europa will be operating as a company with almost 2,000 people providing a fully integrated FM service, with greater stability and an excellent portfolio of clients across the UK.”

Paul Canning, Managing Director at H.I.G., commented: “We are delighted to be backing this highly experienced management team at such a critical moment in Europa’s development. The merger of these two businesses will create a market leader which is strongly positioned to grow both organically and through further acquisitions. This deal is also significant for H.I.G. in that it marks our first UK investment. Partnering with a high growth company such as Europa with excellent management in a dynamic sector to execute an industry consolidation is a good illustration of our value-added investment approach.”

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