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DWF advises LDC and management on the sale of Waterfall Services Ltd to Elior

DWF LLP has advised LDC and its management on the sale of catering company Waterfall Services Ltd to Elior Group.

Waterfall, a £70m-turnover contract caterer to the care and education sectors, has been bought by Paris-headquartered multinational Elior Group.

The sale takes place less than two years after mid-market private equity firm LDC backed a £20m secondary buyout of Waterfall, based in Warrington.

LDC's Manchester office originally backed the £20m secondary buyout of Waterfall Catering Group, which is behind Caterplus and Taylor Shaw, in December 2014 in a deal that supported the growth ambitions of the business' management team led by chief executive Jim Lovett, finance director Gabrielle Higham and chairman Vince Pearson.

The transaction was led by investment director Richard Ibbett and director and co-head of LDC in the North West Johnny Bell and generated a 2.6x money multiple and an initial rate of return of 81 per cent for LDC.

Jim Lovett said: "LDC backed our vision and ambition as a management team to create an even stronger business and has provided unwavering support for our growth plans ever since.

"The deal with Elior Group provides a highly strategic outcome for our partnership with LDC and puts us in a great position to further develop our offering to customers within our core sectors in education and care."

Since their investment, LDC has supported the management team in executing their organic growth strategy for the company, which focused on strengthening margins, as well as improving customer proposition and service delivery in its core markets of care and education.

This has driven growth in revenues from £50m to more than £70m with headcount increasing from 3,000 to more than 3,500 employees during the last 19 months.

Elior Group is one of the world's largest operators in the contracted food industry. It is listed on Paris' Euronext market and recorded annual revenues of €5.7bn (£4.8bn) in the 2014/15 financial year. Both Caterplus and Taylor Shaw will continue to operate under their current brands as part of a new Elior company, with the management team remaining as shareholders to oversee the next phase of growth.

LDC's Richard Ibbett said: "Attracting the interest of Elior Group, and to be part of its international growth strategy, is a true compliment to the quality organisation that Jim, Vince, Gabrielle and the wider management team have built in recent years.

"Waterfall and its brands are firmly established UK market leaders in the care and education sectors and now, with the support of one of the world's foremost catering businesses, will no doubt go on to achieve further success. We wish the management and all the staff the best in the future."

The DWF team consisted of National Head of Corporate, Frank Shephard, Darren Ormsby, Nick Hawthorne, Francesca Kinsella, Matthew Judge (Corporate) and James Cashman (Tax).

Frank Shephard, Corporate Partner at DWF, said “We are delighted to have acted for LDC and the management team on the next stage of the development of Waterfall. Having worked with the team on their original investment with LDC it is great to see the company grow and offer a market leading solution for Elior in the care and education sectors”

Other advisers on the deal included Deloitte and Dow Schofield Watts.

DWF has also acted on the following related deals:
Mini-Cam set for international growth following LDC investment
DWF advises LDC as it invests in CEL Procurement
DWF advises LDC as it secures 2.4x return on Forrest exit
DWF advises LDC on sale of Green Sky Energy to E.ON
DWF advises New World Trading Company on acquisition
DWF advises in connection with NVM Private Equity investment in Entertainment Magpie
DWF advises on energy management acquisition

Frank Shephard

Partner - National Head of Corporate

I am Head of the National Corporate Team. I deal with all types of public and private company transactions, including M&A, Private Equity and Equity Capital Markets.

Darren Ormsby

Associate

I have a range of experience in a variety of corporate finance and private equity transactions, including MBOs and MBIs.

James Cashman

Senior Associate

I am an experienced corporate tax solicitor and chartered tax adviser. I specialise in share options, employee incentives and all tax aspects of private equity and M&A transactions.