SLR Consulting enters next chapter with investor Ares

23 June 2022 4 min. read

Ares Private Equity Group is set to take a majority stake with SLR Consulting, after striking a deal with the firm’s current largest shareholder. Charterhouse Capital Partners will exit its stake in SLR Consulting, having doubled its headcount over the last four years, and helping it achieve double-digit revenue growth in that same period.

Founded in 1994, international environmental consultancy SLR Consulting has grown rapidly in the three decades since. Expanding globally from its Oxford origins, the firm opened offices across Europe, North America, Australasia, and Africa, and by 2016 the firm held over 70 global offices and boasted a team of around 1,100 staff.

In 2018, SLR sought to build on this momentum with new investment by private equity firm Charterhouse Capital Partners. Charterhouse replaced fellow private equity entity 3i, to becomes SLR’s main shareholder, while SLR’s management team and other staff retained a significant stake in the business.

SLR Consulting enters next chapter with investor Ares

This chapter turned out to be a formula for success – with SLR Consulting more than doubling its worldwide headcount to 2,300 in the four years since, and taking its office count to 100 in the process.

Under Charterhouse’s ownership, SLR has also seen its offering transformed, as the firm has broadened from a pure-play environmental consultancy to a leading provider of ESG and sustainability services. This was achieved through organic growth initiatives, combined with targeted M&A activity of 15 add-on acquisitions; ultimately helping generate double-digit growth. Meanwhile, EBITDA has increased by over 100% since Charterhouse’s entry.

Having placed SLR in a stronger position than it found it, Charterhouse has now opted to exit the firm. Entering into an agreement with a private equity fund managed by Ares Management Corporation, Charterhouse is anticipated to hand over its majority shareholder position by the final quarter of 2022, subject to applicable shareholder and regulatory approvals.

Thanking Charterhouse for their support of the firm, Neil Penhall, CEO at SLR, remarked, “Charterhouse has been a vital partner in the successful delivery of ambitious expansion plans. Together, we have been able to strategically evolve our business to capitalise on growing demand for a wide range of ESG and sustainability services – importantly bringing together strong strategic advisory capability with technical solutions.”

Looking ahead, Penhall added that SLR was excited for the next stage of its growth journey. With backing from Ares and the support of its global platform, he asserted that SLR had found a partner with “strong experience investing behind growth companies with great cultures and a shared commitment to sustainability.” At the same time, Ares is keen to access ESG consulting, at a time when heightened focus on sustainability and supporting the acceleration of climate transition will continue to provide strong growth opportunities for SLR.

Stephane Etroy, Partner and Head of European Private Equity with Ares, added, “We are excited to support SLR in this next phase of growth. With our global platform and relationship network, we believe that we will be able to support SLR in executing on additional levers of value creation in the coming years.”

Charterhouse meanwhile retains a significant interest in the broader consulting sector. While it is divesting from SLR, it retains its recent stake in LCP, a pension and investment consulting services in the UK, and Labelium, a leading B2B digital marketing performance consultancy.

Chris Warren, Partner at Charterhouse Capital Partners, stated, “We are proud to have supported SLR during a period of significant expansion and growth, which saw the firm transformed into a global leader in ESG and sustainability consulting. The firm’s success is a testament to SLR’s management and their wider team, and we are confident that SLR is well positioned for future success as the demand for ESG and sustainability consultancy continues to grow rapidly.”