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Industry leading team draws on the support of SME Capital to build new group

SME Capital have advanced a substantial growth funding facility to support the key first acquisition of a new group, looking to grow through acquisition in the IT, Connectivity & Managed Services market.

Alex Heslip and Chris Earle were responsible for building and exiting business services aggregator, Verastar. During their time in charge the team delivered on 23 acquisitions as they developed EBITDA from £16m to over £40m before a fund sale to Vitruvian Partners.

This time, led by Alex Heslip and supported by Chris Earle (as Chairman) and Independence Capital, the team are building an SME focused IT/Managed Service provider and now count the acquisition of RISC IT Solutions; a 23-yr old cloud service provider, as deal number one.


Alex Heslip noted, “Chris and I have worked together for a long passage of time and know the SME marketplace intimately. When we left Verastar we spent a period of time in the market assessing where SMEs could be better served. Whilst a crowded market already, we identified that there was an opportunity to build an alternative service provision which specialises specifically in SME businesses – who underpin so much of UK GDP. 

Our first acquisition of RISC IT forms the bedrock from which the group will accelerate going forward. As experts in their own right with regards to Microsoft Modern Work solutions, we were impressed with what management have built over the last 23 years. Given the many years of dedication to the business, the original founder Paul Roberts and co-owner Joanna Stewart will exit their roles but remain as part of the founding shareholders in the group.

We are also delighted to announce that Jeremy Keane (Risc IT Managing Director) and Mark Lawton (Risc IT Business Development Director) remain full-time with the group (protecting continuity) and also form part of the founding shareholders of our group. This is less an acquisition in the traditional sense and more a partnership focused on exciting future growth plans and we are delighted to have them on board as we look forward to also working with their 750 strong customers”. 

SME Capital Regional Director Paul Dolyniuk, who delivered the senior debt, said “I have known both Alex and Max for some time now and we are delighted to support this pivotal acquisition. The Independence Capital structure is one we like, as is the IT and services market in general and naturally backing expert teams like Alex and Chris is aligned with our own aspirations of supporting game-changing clients and transactions. We look forward to working with the group on many more deals in the years to come”. 

Speaking on behalf of RISC, Jeremy Keane commented “Mark and I would like to thank the original founder Paul Roberts and Jo Stewart for their hard work and dedication over the last 23 years, and especially for their work helping to complete this acquisition.

As the RISC business continues to grow year on year we have repeatedly been approached by both potential trade and private equity acquirers. Nobody presented a transaction structured in the way we have now agreed and whilst a great outcome for shareholders, critically this deal ensures the protection of continuity for both employees and customers alike”.

Supporting the design and build of the new group is Independence Capital - a hybrid investor-advisor specialising in buy-build and who already have great domain knowledge of IT services having assisted the team who sold unified communications provider, GCI for £200m to then go on and build Everything Tech.

Independences Managing Director, Max Ward, commented “In Alex and Chris we have a great example of our perfect leadership and transaction type – enabling experts in attractive growth markets. SME Capital have helped augment the capital we have brought into the group and the support Paul and the wider SME Capital team have shown already is really encouraging”.

The advisors to buy-side were Hill Dickinson (Jon Gillow - Legal), Cortus (Nicola Merritt - Diligence). For sell-side, the advisors were Harrison Clark Rickerby (Theresa Grech and Martyn Davies- Legal) and Bennet Brooks (Rick Payne and Mary Tiernay).

SME Capital were advised by Squire Patton Boggs (Matthew Ingram, Michael Atherton and Moneek Chalal).

If you would like to discuss growth financing in more detail or our wider funding capabilities do get in touch.

About SME Capital

SME Capital was founded to support the growing number of SMEs who face difficulty or frustration in accessing capital through traditional methods. We understand the importance of real and trusted relationships in the SME lending market and have dedicated Regional Directors based across the UK. By combining traditional lending expertise with the latest in data analytics, we are supporting established UK SMEs with their long-term objectives and business ambitions.

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July 2023

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