Baker Tilly buys project management expert Outperform

06 July 2015 Consultancy.uk

Baker Tilly has acquired management consultancy Outperform UK.  The aim of the acquisition is to strengthen Baker Tilly’s capabilities in project, programme and portfolio management with three key figures from Outperform becoming partners at Baker Tilly.

Founded in 2004, Outperform UK is a consultancy that works across a broad range of private and public services organisations to provide bid, project, programme or portfolio management performance improvements. The consultancy is known for its expertise in both developing and implementing best practice frameworks such as PRINCE2 (projects), MSP (programmes), P3M3 (maturity models) and the IUK Routemap (initiating complex projects/programmes).

Outperform

The acquisition of the firm will strengthen Baker Tilly’s expertise in the areas of project, programme and portfolio management services. The deal sees Andy Murray, Nick Taylor and Phil Stanton become partners at Baker Tilly.

Murray brings with him 21 years’ experience in consulting. He stood at the head of two consulting firms, WPM Solutions, where he managed the consultancy unit between 1994 and 2004; before founding Outperform in 2004.  Murray is a Chartered Director and holds a Diploma in Company Direction from the Institute of Directors, as well as a BSc (Hons) in Mathematics from the University of Brighton.

Taylor has worked across numerous businesses in the finance, tax and accounting sector before joining Railtrack to work his way from Taxation Manager in 1993 to Head of Strategy and Development for Network Rail in 2003. He left the railway industry for opportunities in the nuclear energy sector – starting at EDF Energy as the Head of Investment Management. In 2006 he continued his career in consulting, joining Outperform as an equity Director.

Nick Taylor, Phil Stanton, Andy Murray, Robert Ross

Stanton started his career as a Software Engineer for Oracle in 1989, first joining the consultancy sector in 1993 at CSB Financial Solutions as a Consultant. After a brief spell as freelancer he joined the Nichols Group in 1999 as a Management Consultant, where he was notably involved in the development of Network Rail’s project management framework, GRIP, and Transport For London’s project management framework, Pathway. Stanton, who has worked for Outperform since 2014, holds a BSc (Hons) in Computing and Information Systems from The University of Manchester.

Robert Ross, Baker Tilly’s UK Head of Consulting says: “We’re delighted to be merging the Outperform business into the Baker Tilly group. There is no doubt that the team are highly experienced and hugely well regarded in the provision of project, programme and portfolio management services. The merger broadens our overall consulting offering to existing and new clients, while giving Outperform a scale of operations and resource that was not open to them previously. As a member of the RSM network, our merger with Outperform will also provide truly global reach and expertise for this important service line.”

Baker Tilly has around 3,400 staff and partners and revenues of around £300 million in the UK. Last week the advisory firm strengthened its Consulting practice with the addition of Kenny McLean, who joined from Certeco.

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8 tips for successfully buying or selling a distressed business

18 April 2019 Consultancy.uk

Embarking on the sale of a business is one of the most challenging experiences a management team can undertake. Even serial dealmakers acknowledge that the transaction process can be gruelling, exposing management to a level of scrutiny and challenge through due diligence that can be distinctly uncomfortable.

So, to embark on a sale process when a business is in distress is twice as challenging. While management is urgently trying to keep the business afloat, they are simultaneously required to prepare it for scrutiny by potential acquirers. Tim Wainwright, an experienced Transactions Partner with Eight Advisory, says that this dual requirement means sellers of distressed businesses must focus on presenting their business in a way that supports buyers in identifying value, whilst simultaneously being open about the causes of distress. 

According to Wainwright, sellers of distressed businesses should focus on eight key aspects to ensure they are as well prepared as possible:

  • Cash: In a distressed situation cash truly is king. Accurate forecasting and day-by-day cash balances are often required to ensure any buyer is confident that scarce cash reserves are under proper control. 
  • Equity story and turnaround plan: Any buyer is going to want to understand the proposed turnaround strategy: how is the business going to enact its recovery and what value can be created that means the distressed business is worth saving? Clear presentation of this strategy is essential.
  • The business model: Clear demonstration of how the business model generates cash is required, with analysis that shows how financial performance will respond to key changes – whether these are positive improvements (e.g., increases in revenue) or emerging risks that further damage the business.  Demonstrating the business is resilient enough to cope with these changes can go a long way to assuring investors there is a viable future.
  • Management team: As outlined above, this is a challenging process. The management team are in it together and need to be consistent in presenting the turnaround. Above all, the team needs to be open about the underlying causes that resulted in the distressed situation arising.  A defensive management team who fail to acknowledge root causes of distress are unlikely to resolve the situation.

8 tips for successfully buying or selling a distressed business

  • Financing: More than in any traditional transaction, distressed businesses need to understand the impact on working capital. The distressed situation frequently results in costs rising as credit insurance becomes more difficult to obtain or as customers and suppliers reduce credit. Understanding how these unwind will be important to the potential investors.
  • Employees: Any restructuring programme can be difficult for employees. Maintaining open communications and respecting the need for consultation is the basic requirement. In successful turnarounds, employees are often deeply engaged in designing and developing solutions. Demonstrating a supportive, flexible employee base can often support the sale process.
  • Structuring: Understanding how to structure the business for the proposed acquisition can add significant value. Where possible, asset sales may be preferred, enabling buyers to move forward with limited liabilities. However, impacts on customers, employees and other stakeholders need to be considered.
  • Off balance sheet assets: In the course of selling a distressed business, additional attention is often given to communicating the value of items that may not be fully valued in the financial statements. Brands, intellectual property and historic tax losses are all examples of items that may be of significant value to a purchaser. Highlighting these aspects can make an acquisition more appealing.

“These eight focus areas can help to sell a distressed business and are important in reaching a successful outcome, but it should be noted that it will remain a challenging process,” Wainwright explains. 

With recent studies indicating that the valuation of distressed business is trending north. With increased appetite from buyers who are accustomed to taking on these situations, it is likely that more distressed deals will be seen in the coming months. “Preparing management teams as best as possible for delivering these will be key to ensuring these businesses can pass on to new owners who can hopefully drive the restructuring required to see these succeed,” Wainwright added.