Hungry UK services slinger swallows hosting biz for £65m – sources

Deal done between Pulsant and Onyx, one less MSP ...

UK managed services slinger Pulsant has agreed to fork out £65m for data centre and hosting biz Onyx, multiple sources close to the situation have claimed.

A "for sale" sign was erected outside Onyx’s Stockton-on-Tees HQ in January and the process was managed by Deloitte, as we exclusively revealed.

“The deal is done,” said one industry contact, who claimed Oak Hill-backed Pulsant - formerly branded Lumison - had “trumped” rival bidder Six Degrees, which is itself sat on some cash.

We were told there was “limited private equity interest” in Onyx and those that entered the negotiations cut their offers amid suggestions Onyx had reduced EBITDA forecasts slightly for the current financial year.

“Commercial due diligence showed little organic growth,” said a well placed source. Another told us the sales agreements were signed but the deal may be subject to a “condition precedent”. El Chan has no further details on this.

Private equity investor Livingbridge (formerly ISIS Equity) backed a £27m MBO at Onyx in October 2011. The bit barn provider has five data centres and six workplace recovery units spread across the north-east England and Scotland.

The firm sells cloud backup, clouds and managed hosting, collation, connectivity, IT support and managed services. Punters include Stobart Group, DFS, Scottish Athletics and Newcastle United FC.

In calendar 2014, Onyx reported operating profit of £1.35m on turnover of 20.23m, versus sales of £18.8m and operating profit of £1.17m.

Oak Hill bought a majority stake in Pulsant in 2014. Pulsant is no stranger to buys, slurping co-lo vendor BlueSquare Data Services and Dedi Power Managed Hosting Services in 2011.

It is run by former Computacenter managed services MD Mark Howling. We asked him for comment and he said: “There are an awful lot of rumours about us acquiring and us being acquired. I don’t comment on them.” ®

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