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Deal for energy supplier

Gauld and Osborn close to sealing Spark MBO

Chris GauldSpark Energy, the niche energy supplier to the lettings and social housing sectors, is close to completing a management buyout.

It is being led by chief executive Chris Gauld (pictured), who has held a senior position in the Scottish Borders-based company since its launch in 2007, and chief financial officer Hamish Osborn.

Four large institutional investors, including a major UK pension fund, a European family office and a Middle Eastern investment bank, are backing the deal, which will dramatically increase the financial strength of the business, currently on course to deliver turnover of £125m in the year to end June 2016.

Whilst the value of the deal has not been disclosed, it would see Spark’s original and current shareholders realising a return on their investments. It will also significantly increase access to growth capital, in order to allow rapid expansion. Chairman Sir Timothy Noble and his fellow non-executive directors will resign on completion of the deal.

The directors of Spark Energy are recommending the deal to its shareholders, who are being sent details today. The support of 75% of shareholders is required before the offer closes on 14 July. If approved, the transaction is expected to be completed in August.

Mr Gauld said: “This is the natural next phase in Spark’s evolution. Whilst we can be proud of our achievements so far, we have big plans for an exciting future.

“The new institutional backers have the extra financial strength and experience to enable us to fund and accelerate the next steps in our ambitious plans, and to realise our full potential.

“Our current investors have always been incredibly supportive of the business and helped management achieve better outcomes for customers, staff and our other stakeholders by providing extra capital as the business grew.

“We are confident that this deal will go through and excited about the opportunities ahead of us. We have plans to diversify our offer, to invest further in customer experience and to consider acquisitions and technology that serve to improve our performance.

“Spark’s success owes much to our vibrant team of 350 staff, who live mostly near our Selkirk headquarters. I can assure them that our future lies firmly in the Borders, and that we will be looking to build our team in the months and years to come.”

He said the firm was “well-positioned for further growth,” adding: “There was a significant appetite from institutions keen to back our plans but Hamish and I feel very confident that we have the right partners in the group.”

Sir Timothy said: “If, as expected, the proposals are accepted, I will depart my role at Spark with great pride in what we have achieved together, and with pleasure that my fellow shareholders will have been rewarded for the confidence and courage they showed in supporting this company.

“When the business was founded in 2007, Spark was merely a concept with the aim of becoming a challenger brand in an industry completely dominated by the Big Six providers, and which has a regulatory environment so complex that it makes life very difficult for new entrants.

“The success of Spark Energy is a fine example of angel investment in action. Without the support of so many private individuals and Scottish Enterprise, who together invested more than £15m over a period of years, companies such as Spark would not be able to get off the ground, as the banks and other institutions are not prepared to provide such risky finance.

“Chris Gauld and Hamish Osborn have done a fine job with the support of the whole team in Selkirk and have repaid our faith. In growing Spark they have also reduced costs, improved service and helped give choice back to the customer in a niche area of the energy supply market.”



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