Aston Carter

Deal summary

Catalyst advised the shareholders on the sale of Aston Carter Group to Allegis Group Inc.

Aston Carter is the UK’s largest independent specialist staffing business operating across the financial services and IT sectors. With offices in the UK, Europe and Asia the company employs 300 people and has sales in excess of £180 million, split between contract and permanent placements. The Aston Carter client base covers many of the world’s leading companies including Barclays Capital, Fujitsu, Morgan Stanley, Accenture and Royal Bank of Scotland.

The business was founded by CEO Sean Zimdahl who completed a management buy-out supported by Baird Capital Partners Europe (BCPE) in 2007. In spite of a major downturn in the sector over the last two years in Aston Carter's key markets, the business has more than doubled its revenues. This was achieved by expanding internationally with new and existing clients into continental Europe and the Far East and continuing to deliver excellent service.

Allegis Group Inc, with a head office in Baltimore, is the largest privately owned staffing business in the world and the fourth largest globally with over 9,000 employees and sales of $6.3 billion. The acquisition of Aston Carter represents their largest investment to date and their first acquisition in Europe.

What difference did we make?

Catalyst advised on the original management buy-out of Aston Carter in 2007 and remained an advisor to the board thereafter advising on preparing for sale and exit options.

The shareholders had 3 clear objectives. All shareholders wanted to maximise the value of the business. In addition BCPE wanted a clean exit and management wanted to find a buyer with an international footprint that Aston Carter could leverage and a buyer with a similar culture.

Catalyst spoke with all the major potential buyers without disclosing Aston Carter and through this process gathered intelligence on their M&A strategies and timing of any interest. On the basis of this intelligence and the completion of a number of internally focused preparing for sale actions, Catalyst engaged with Allegis Group and presented the benefits of acquiring Aston Carter.

The deal was incredibly complex and in many respects the deals structure resembled a MBO structure with management rolling over a substantial amount of their proceeds for a significant minority stake. In addition, Allegis Group introduced a class of Growth Shares to further incentivise and retain over 100 key staff.

Sean Zimdahl will stay on as CEO of Aston Carter and will join the leadership team of Allegis Europe.

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What our client said
The advice and support given to us by Catalyst over the years and throughout this process has been invaluable and their guidance and experience enabled us deliver a very complex deal. Sean Zimdahl, CEO & Founder
Aston Carter