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Rigby clan jumps into private equity game

Industry vet Paul Eccleston heads up investment arm for Midlands-based group

Industry veteran Paul Ecclestone is to head up a private equity subsidiary for Rigby Group that is seeking small but perfectly formed companies in perceived hot areas of tech.

The exec returned to the Midlands-based biz dynasty in early April, having previously transferred with Specialist Distribution Group when it was acquired by Tech Data in 2012 for $350m.

Rigby Private Equity is part of the Rigby Equity Investments division, and is entirely separate to services-based reseller arm SCC, which sits elsewhere in the stables.

“The investment criteria includes high growth markets where there is a degree of fragmentation. There are strong specialists operating as boutiques which don’t necessarily have scale,” Eccleston told us.

The plan is to use the “significant fund”, believed to be £50m, as well as banking facilities to invest in local suppliers of mobility, those operating in software defined areas, and application, service or performance management.

“Our access to funding doesn’t expire,” he claimed, “usually private equity investors are contained by that pre-determined exit date and have to tune and sweat assets in a certain timeframe.”

As a general rule of thumb, equity houses aim to invest, grow the business, enjoy yearly interest repayments and sell up within five to seven years.

Eccleston said Rigby Private Equity will also co-invest with other private equity players to create a portfolio of four or five “buy and build” entities.

Just recently, it emerged that outgoing NTT Com Security boss Simon Church is heading into private equity, and industry veteran Tom Kelly worked with an investment advisory upon leaving Logicalis.

The appetite from the equity community to invest in tech is stronger than ever, finding the right investments however… is another matter. ®

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