Blackstone to invest £100m in HH Global

Richard Stuart-Turner
Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Investment firm Blackstone Tactical Opportunities is to make a £100m strategic minority equity investment in HH Global.

MacMillan: "We want to be the consolidator in our market"
MacMillan: "We want to be the consolidator in our market"

Subject to receipt of relevant antitrust approvals, Blackstone’s investment is expected to complete in the first quarter of 2020. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Robert MacMillan, chairman and group chief executive of Leatherhead-headquartered HH Global told Printweek: “I feel that our core market is ripe for consolidation and some of the competition in a very public format are struggling, and most aren’t in charge of their own destiny.

“I think in Blackstone we’ve got the pre-eminent business investment vehicle out there, that are very supportive of our plans.

“We’re certainly the fastest-growing, and by every metric apart from the overall size of our business we’re number one in our industry, and we want to address that.

“We believe that a lot of the competition will be coming up for sale next year and we want to be in a position to take advantage of that and be the consolidator in our market.”

He added: “We went through a process to find the right partner, we spent six months researching the market and then met with Blackstone and they instantly understood our model and the opportunity in the market. We were able to conclude a deal very quickly with them and we’re delighted with the outcome.

“It’s business as usual except with a strong backer. The board and I maintain control of the business, which means we can steer it to its next journey. I think it’s really important to have control; when we’re talking to clients and making long-term commitments to them, they want to know that we’re still going to be around for the foreseeable future.

“I think that’s a very powerful message in today’s market, which other companies can’t do because they’re owned by private equity companies or other shareholders.”

MacMillan said the investment will also enable HH Global to “significantly grow” its newly developed data and digital multichannel marketing offering with a global buy-and-build strategy.

Blackstone managing director Raphael de Botton added: “We look forward to working with Robert MacMillan and the excellent management team he has assembled.

“The company is one of the few truly global operators in the market, which we believe is a strong differentiator to capture the exciting growth ahead of us. We look forward to supporting HH Global’s impressive growth trajectory, both organically and through M&A.”

Moelis & Company acted as exclusive financial adviser to HH Global, Osborne Clarke as legal adviser and Jamieson advised on management incentive arrangements. Slaughter and May acted as legal adviser to Blackstone.

HH Global achieved another big jump in sales and EBITDA margins in its Q1 results, with its unaudited results for the three months to 30 June showing its sales up 21.6% to £106.7m, while adjusted EBITDA jumped by 55.3% to £6.2m, giving an EBITDA margin of 5.8% (2018: 4.5%).

The business has recently taken on 270 new staff, taking the total to 1,300 worldwide, and its clients include Google, HSBC, Pepsico, Procter & Gamble and Samsung.

It won the Asda point-of-sale contract in May and was also awarded the print and mail work for the coming Census in 2021.

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