Acquisition Completed Following a Significant Investment from Melior Equity Partners
BHP Insurance, a leading independent Irish brokerage specialising in the not-for-profit sector, has announced the acquisition of Keegan Meredith & Williams Insurances (KMW)*, a commercial insurance brokerage based in Sandyford, Dublin. BHP Insurance, based in Blanchardstown, provides a range of insurance solutions to more than 5,000 charitable and voluntary organisations across Ireland. The acquisition has been completed following a significant investment in BHP Insurance by leading Irish private equity firm Melior Equity Partners.
Commenting on the announcement, Martina Westphal, Managing Director, BHP Insurance said, “This strategic step is great news for both our customers and employees. It will allow our broker group to enhance the already high level of customer service we deliver while also expanding the range of products and services we can offer. It will also enrich career opportunities for our employees. We are particularly pleased to have received investment from Melior Equity Partners – a local, Irish private equity firm managed by a team that has an in-depth understanding of the insurance broking sector having previously led a successful investment in the AA Ireland.”
“It will be business as usual from an operational perspective – for our customers as well as our team of 16 employees and for the customers and employees of KMW. We very much look forward to working alongside our new colleagues,” concluded Westphal.
John Williams, Managing Director, Keegan Meredith & Williams Insurances (KMW), who will remain with the business, said, “We look forward to working with the BHP Insurance team, pooling our offering and expertise to the benefit of our customers and employees.”
Esmond Greene, Investment Director, Melior Equity Partners, said, “BHP Insurance is a market leader in a niche space, with a great team and extensive, specialist expertise. It has cultivated exceptionally strong customer loyalty by consistently offering an outstanding level of service. We are delighted to complete our first investment from our recently raised Melior Equity Partners Fund II with BHP which we believe is well positioned to continue on a path of strong growth.”
“KMW is the first of many acquisitions that BHP is seeking to make. We are in discussions with a number of small and mid-sized brokers who appear excited about coming together with an Irish owned platform,” concluded Greene.
Melior Equity Partners was founded by Jonathan Cosgrave and Peter Garvey in late 2019. Melior Equity Partners Fund II is backed by a pool of blue-chip investors including the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, the European Investment Fund and Bank of Ireland. It invests capital in, and provides help to, businesses across Ireland to achieve their growth ambitions. The Melior team led the Carlyle Cardinal Ireland Fund (CCI) for The Carlyle Group investing in companies such as AA Ireland, Carroll Cuisine, GSLS, Learning Pool, Lily O’Brien’s, McCauley Pharmacy, Payzone, Sports Surgery Clinic and The City Bin Co.
*As a result of this deal, BHP Insurance and KMW will come under the common ownership of SIL Holdings.
About BHP Insurance:
BHP has been providing insurance solutions to the not-for-profit sector for the past 15 years. In that time, BHP has partnered with and been the preferred broker for many umbrella bodies and national organisations such as Public Participation Network Members, The Wheel members, DSP Community Employment Scheme/ Voluntary Boards, charities, homeless services, Muintir Na Tire community alerts and mental health associations. The company will be expanding into life and pensions, construction insurance and bonds, sports clubs’ insurance and specialist contents insurance for social housing tenants. BHP’s team of 16 employees currently provides insurance solutions to 5,000 charitable customers. The company is based in Blanchardstown Corporate Park 2.
About Keegan, Meredith & Williams Insurances:
KMW was established in 1978 and has a long history of assisting both personal and business clients with all their insurance requirements both on general insurance and life and pensions. Over the years KMW has established a first-class reputation with both insurers and clients with a personal, friendly and professional ethos to the business. Having been located on the Main Street in Blackrock village for many years KMW is now based in Stillorgan Business Park opposite the Beacon hospital.
About Melior Equity Partners:
Melior Equity Partners (“Melior”) is a leading Irish private equity investment firm headquartered in Dublin with a strong track record of supporting Irish management teams and investing in small to medium sized private businesses in Ireland.
Melior was founded in 2019 by Jonathan Cosgrave and Peter Garvey who previously co-headed the management of the Carlyle Cardinal Ireland Fund (CCI – a €292 million Ireland dedicated private equity fund) for The Carlyle Group. The Melior team members invested the CCI fund from 2014 to 2019 and are one of the most experienced private equity investment teams in the Irish market.
Melior combines best-in-class international standards and far-reaching networks developed at leading global investment firms, with a deep knowledge of the local marketplace to bring a unique approach to investing and partnering with management teams in Ireland.
The Melior team is currently deploying capital out of Melior Equity Partners II, a fund which is backed by leading international and local sovereign wealth funds, fund of funds, foundations, financial institutions and family office investors. The breadth and nature of its investors provide Melior with significant capacity to fund transactions of any scale in the Irish market.
Melior Equity Partners, the Irish private equity fund, has acquired a significant majority stake in Dublin-based BHP Insurance for an undisclosed sum. This is the first investment made by Melior since it launched its second private equity fund last year.
BHP Insurance is a brokerage business headquartered in Blanchardstown that provides insurance options to more than 5,000 non-profit organisations such as charities and voluntary groups in Ireland.
The firm is extremely profitable. According to accounts filed with the Companies Registration Office, BHP Insurance recorded operating profits of just over €1.6 million for the 12 months to the end of April 2020 on the back of turnover of less than €3 million.
The company has more than €2.2 million in cash on its balance sheet and paid out dividends of close to €1.8 million to its parent company, Sebastopol (Ireland) Limited.
As part of the private equity investment, BHP Insurance will acquire Keegan Meredith & Williams Insurances (KMW), a commercial insurance brokerage based in Sandyford, Dublin.
“BHP Insurance is a market leader in a niche space, with a great team and extensive, specialist expertise. It has cultivated exceptionally strong customer loyalty by consistently offering an outstanding level of service,” Esmond Greene, investment director with Melior, said.
“We are delighted to complete our first investment with BHP which we believe is well positioned to continue on a path of strong growth.”
Melior Equity Partners was founded in January 2020 by Jonny Cosgrave and Peter Garvey. The pair had previously led the Carlyle Cardinal Ireland Fund (CCIF), which was a €292 million private equity fund.
Between 2014 and 2019, CCIF made 11 investments in Irish businesses, including well-known companies Carroll’s Cuisine, Lily O’Brien’s, McCauley Pharmacy, AA Ireland, Payzone, Sports Surgery Clinic, the City Bin Co and Learning Pool, the Derry-based online learning company.
After six years investing the CCIF, Cosgrave and Garvey decided to establish Melior as a new private equity firm for the Irish market. The new fund is backed by Bank of Ireland, the European Investment Bank and the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund.
Melior is targeting a fund size of €175 million over the coming years. It targets businesses valued anywhere from €15 million up to €200 million and will typically inject €10 million to €20 million of equity into a business it partners with for a period of up to seven years.
Cosgrave and Garvey already have experience investing in the insurance sector, having previously led a private equity investment in AA Ireland.
Learning Pool, a strategic leader in the U.K. & U.S. learning technology markets, has today agreed to a new investment from Marlin Equity Partners (“Marlin”), a global investment firm with over $7.6 billion of capital under management, to support the company’s continued growth. Under the terms of the agreement, Marlin will also acquire the shareholding of Carlyle Cardinal Ireland.
Learning Pool’s integrated suite of digital learning products and services has enabled more than 1,100 companies to migrate their training initiatives to modern cloud technology, including global brands like The FA, Intercontinental Hotels Group, Sky, and Swiss Re. Learning Pool helps companies at every stage of the employee lifecycle, creating engaging onboarding experiences, rigorous compliance training, and meaningful skills development opportunities for more than 5 million learners every year.
Founded in Northern Ireland and currently ranked as one of the top 60 Large Best Companies to work for in the U.K., Learning Pool’s expert workforce has grown to more than 260 employees across the U.K. and U.S. The Marlin investment will facilitate further job creation with plans already in place to hire an additional 100 Learning Pool employees across the group this year alone.
Since the initial investment from Carlyle Cardinal Ireland in 2016, Learning Pool has experienced dramatic growth as revenue has increased four-fold during this time. The company has also been at the forefront of launching next-generation learning technology products and has received multiple awards for outstanding customer service. In addition, Learning Pool has made four acquisitions in four years, most recently acquiring U.S.-based LMS expert, Remote Learner, which enhanced the company’s presence in the U.S. market. Marlin is expected to help accelerate growth both organically and through additional acquisitions.
Speaking about the investment, Learning Pool Group CEO Paul McElvaney said,“Over the past five years we have achieved phenomenal growth with the fantastic support of Carlyle Cardinal Ireland, and we’re very grateful for the help and encouragement we’ve had from the team. We’re delighted to have found the right partner to help us continue our momentum and grow the Learning Pool brand globally. Marlin has an incredible heritage in helping businesses like ours scale and innovate. We’re excited to be working with them and confident that both our customers and our team will see immediate benefits from Marlin’s investment. Learning Pool’s entire executive management team has re-invested in the company, providing a compelling foundation upon which we’ll build the next phase of growth.”
Jan-Olivier Fillols, a managing director at Marlin Equity Partners, said:“Learning Pool has achieved significant growth through its customer-centric philosophy and unique end-to-end e-Learning proposition. We believe the business is extremely well-positioned to capitalize on a highly attractive market opportunity, and we are excited to partner with an exceptional team to drive both organic and inorganic growth together.”
Jonathan Cosgrave, Partner at Melior Equity Partners which advises the CCI fund on behalf of Carlyle, said:“Learning Pool’s success in growing revenue and profits four-fold through organic growth and acquisition, while tripling employee numbers and launching next generation learning products, clearly demonstrate the potential of founder-led Irish technology companies when partnered with an investor that facilitates a strong growth environment. The performance of Learning Pool’s management team and employees has been exceptional, and we wish them continued success for the future.”
John Dolan, Managing Director, Cardinal Capital Group said: “Learning Pool has been a great growth story for CCI. When we invested originally the company had 80 employees in one office, predominantly servicing U.K. public-sector customers. It now has over 260 employees across six offices around the world, and with over 30% of the revenue coming from North America. This is a classic example of the benefits we can bring to an Irish company willing to look west instead of east for accelerated growth. Paul and Louise McElvaney are outstanding entrepreneurs who have built a fabulous culture where all employees look after each other, which has been a huge asset to the company during the COVID pandemic.”
Learning Pool and Carlyle
Richard Magnier, MKC Communications
Tel: +353 (0)86 809 6316 email@example.com
Cardinal Capital Group
Tom McEnaney, McEnaney Media
Tel: +353 (0)87 2222 666 firstname.lastname@example.org
About Learning Pool
Learning Pool is a full-service online training provider to workplaces around the world, offering learning courses, platforms, analytics and custom content development services to over 1,100 organizations and 5.1 million learners. Over the last twelve months, the company has been featured on 14 eLearning Industry lists for excellence in learning platforms and content creation and achieved a double-award win at the Brandon Hall Excellence Awards, including Gold for Technology Innovation. Learning Pool also won double Gold in the Stevie Awards for Customer Service, was announced as ‘World Class’ to work for in the 2021 Best Companies accreditation program and became the only Strategic Leader to offer a Lower Total Cost of Ownership in the 2021 Fosway 9-Grid for Digital Learning. For more information, please see http://www.learningpool.com.
About Marlin Equity Partners
Marlin Equity Partners is a global investment firm with over $7.6 billion of capital under management. The firm is focused on providing corporate parents, shareholders and other stakeholders with tailored solutions that meet their business and liquidity needs. Marlin invests in businesses across multiple industries where its capital base, industry relationships and extensive network of operational resources significantly strengthen a company’s outlook and enhance value. Since its inception, Marlin, through its group of funds and related companies, has successfully completed over 180 acquisitions. The firm is headquartered in Los Angeles, California, with an additional office in London. For more information, please visit www.marlinequity.com.
About Carlyle Cardinal Ireland
Carlyle Cardinal Ireland is a joint venture between The Carlyle Group (NASDAQ: CG) and Cardinal Capital Group. The €292 million private equity fund is focused on growth capital and buyout investment opportunities across the island of Ireland and investors include the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund and Enterprise Ireland.
The Carlyle Group (NASDAQ: CG) is a global investment firm with deep industry expertise that deploys private capital across four business segments: Corporate Private Equity, Real Assets, Global Credit and Investment Solutions. With $260 billion of assets under management as of March 31, 2021, Carlyle’s purpose is to invest wisely and create value on behalf of our investors, portfolio companies and the communities in which we live and invest. Carlyle employs more than 1,800 professionals in 29 offices across five continents. Further information is available at www.carlyle.com. Follow Carlyle on Twitter @OneCarlyle.
About Cardinal Capital Group
Cardinal Capital Group is Ireland’s leading provider of alternative capital, directing private-equity capital, mezzanine finance and alternative lending to a broad range of sectors in the Irish market. Cardinal invests its own capital alongside institutional funders to support entrepreneurs and corporate management teams as well as real-estate investors and developers. Web: www.cardinalcapitalgroup.com
About Melior Equity Partners
Melior Equity Partners is a leading Irish private equity investment firm headquartered in Dublin with a strong track record of supporting Irish management teams and investing in small to medium sized private businesses in Ireland. The Melior team members invested the CCI fund from 2014 to 2019 and are one of the most experienced private equity investment teams in the Irish market. Melior combines best-in-class international standards and far-reaching networks developed at leading global investment firms, with a deep knowledge of the local marketplace to bring a unique approach to investing and partnering with management teams in Ireland. Further information is available at www.meliorequity.com.
Learning Pool and its shareholders were advised by Baird and Beltrae Partners. A&L Goodbody and Millar McCall Wylie acted as legal counsel, CIL as commercial consultants with Grant Thornton, KPMG and Deloitte providing accounting and tax advice.
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