Options Group

Deal summary

Options Group is a leading, national provider of specialist care, education and clinical services to children and adults with autism, behavioural difficulties and other complex needs. The business operates some 30 facilities, providing services for around 200 individuals. Due to the strength of the proposition and pathways of care offered, customers comprise the majority of local authorities in England and Wales.

Barclays Ventures became the majority shareholder in 2009 following a debt for equity restructuring which also introduced a new management team who had a minority stake. Together they improved the operational and financial performance of the business.

In 2014 the shareholders appointed Catalyst to consider and evaluate the strategic options for the business. We were chosen by the shareholders due to a combination of our transaction execution expertise and deep sector knowledge, which includes relationships with the key financial investors and strategic acquirers in the sector.

What difference did we make?

The business had received a number of pre-emptive approaches from both strategic acquirers and private equity. In our strategic options review we pre-screened both trade and financial buyers, including businesses which had already made an approach. By using our understanding of the business, shareholders’ objectives and potential buyers' rationale, we were able to focus the discussions on a small number of interested parties.

In parallel with the initial buyer engagement, we worked extensively with management, Options Group’s lawyers and selected diligence providers to prepare an information suite for bidders and to stress test the business to ensure it was prepared for an intensive diligence process.

Following discussions with interested parties, the most compelling proposition was a deal that merged Options Group with Outcomes First Group, a portfolio business of Sovereign Capital. From the outset both parties realised there were very strong synergies by combining the businesses. We negotiated a detailed heads of terms and granted Outcomes First Group exclusivity.

The deal completed largely to terms and the combined group is now one of the UK’s largest providers of specialist care and education, looking after approximately 700 children and adults. The Options Group management team have each joined the board, Graham Baker (formerly Options CEO) has become Group CEO and Roger Colvin (formerly Outcomes First CEO) has become chairman.

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What our client said
"Many thanks to Catalyst for leading us through the deal process. Their help and support throughout was invaluable, it has enabled us to secure a great deal for all stakeholders and allows the management team to take the business to a new level as part of the Outcomes First Group." Graham Baker
CEO, Options Group