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Founders cash in with sale

Big Partnership sold by founders in £11 million MBO

Alex BarrOne of the founders of The Big Partnership has confirmed that the Glasgow based public relations agency was sold to its directors almost two years ago.

The sale to six fellow board members in an £11 million deal values Neil Gibson and Alex Barr’s stakes at more than £4m each. It was agreed in 2014 but has only just been made public.

Mr Gibson admitted that because it is a privately held firm, it was not obliged to make a public announcement until it filed accounts for the year to May 2015 at Companies House last week.

“It has been very much business as usual, and so we just wanted to let the new board have some time to settle in first,” he said.

Mr Barr and Mr Gibson founded the firm with Graham Isdale in 2000 after leaving what was then Beattie Media  and built it into the UK’s biggest independent agency outside London. They used the initials of their surnames to create the company’s name.

It made operating profits of £1.3m on a turnover of £8.3 million last year and has a workforce of 115 across five offices.

Mr Barr and Mr Gibson are understood to own 40% of the business each after buying out Mr Isdale in 2005.

The six who are directly involved in the deal are: Allan Barr and Bryan Garvie (Glasgow office) Zoe Ogilvie (Aberdeen) Andrew Baird (Edinburgh), Sharon Mars (Liverpool) and Graham Leitch, finance director.

Allan Buchan, a senior account director, and Marjorie Calder, who left last year, also have small stakes in the company.

Discussions have been on going since 2013 and the sale will take place over seven years. Craig Corporate advised on the deal. In total, 11 staff who have stakes in the business through an enterprise management incentive scheme, will benefit from the sale.

Mr Barr and Mr Gibson say they will retain small stakes and intend to remain with the business but to reduce their involvement over time.

They said the reason for the sale was to secure the future of the business and to realise some of the investment that had been undertaken.




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