'It was a rollercoaster year' - Agilitas CEO Lynn on leading an MBO during a pandemic

Josh Budd
clock • 2 min read
'It was a rollercoaster year' - Agilitas CEO Lynn on leading an MBO during a pandemic

Market analysts suggested Agilitas was valued at £90m in a secondary buyout at the end of last year

2020 was an "emotional rollercoaster" for Agilitas according to its CEO Shaun Lynn, who led a management buyout of the business in the middle of the Covid pandemic.

Agilitas changed hands in November via an MBO led by Lynn and the backing of private equity house Perwyn.

The secondary MBO saw existing investor NVM exit the business after initially investing £6.4m in Agilitas as part of a previous MBO in 2014.

In an interview with CRN Shaun Lynn confirmed that the Agilitas valuation was a significant sum, with Agilitas delivering its previous investor NVM an 8.5x return on its investment.

"Phil Doye to his credit when he did the first Kelway-CDW deal, he gave their investor Core Capital a 9x return on their investment. We didn't quite get that, but we did eight and a half and we did it in a pandemic," he laughed.

The Agilitas CEO said that conducting an MBO during the Covid crisis and multiple national lockdowns was a hugely challenging experience.

"Going through selling a business which is usually a 9 to 12-month process, but doing that through lock downs and a global pandemic was a struggle. And doing all of that with all of the challenges that the pandemic brought - hiring new people and having that responsibility for the people you have hired already - we didn't want to let anyone down," he said.

"When we launched the MBO in July, we were told it was not the right time because there is a lot of uncertainty in the market, and private equity are fixing their portfolios because a lot of them are generalists and are in lots of different sectors affected by the pandemic.

"We ended up with over 25 serious offers," he added.

Lynn said that his firm chose Perwyn because of its long-term view on the Agilitas business. He hinted at plans to expand Agilitas into new countries - mentioning the US and to the east of Germany - with Perwyn's backing.

"We were really impressed with Perwyn," he said. "They're a family business and we found there was a real cultural fit with them, where people really matter."

At the start of this year, Agilitas announced its financial results for the year ending 31 March 2020. Revenues grew by 15 per cent to £14m, while EBITDA shot up by 22 per cent to £3.8m.

When the pandemic first hit Europe in March, one of Agilitas' largest customers closed up shop, said Lynn, which was a worrying sign of how the pandemic might play out for the firm.

But despite the pandemic, Agilitas is expecting to post a hugely positive financial year for the period ending 31 March 2021.

Lynn said he's expecting revenues to land between £20m and £22m and EBITDA to reach just shy of £8m - double what it achieved in the year before.

"We could have done bigger, but we could have done a lot less, too," said Lynn.

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