Following a £90m public offer by NorthEdge Capital via its acquisition vehicle Project Sword Bidco, Vespa Capital has realised its 45% shareholding in Catalis plc resulting in a 5.3x gross multiple for investors. Funds managed by Vespa Capital have also retained through the public offer a significant shareholding in Catalis by reinvesting in Project Sword Bidco alongside NorthEdge Capital and the senior management team. Nigel Hammond, Managing Partner of Vespa Capital, will remain on the Board of Catalis alongside Ray Stenton and Phil Frame from NorthEdge Capital.
Vespa Capital originally invested and supported CEO Dominic Wheatley in 2014 by acquiring a significant shareholding held by long term German shareholders and also by providing additional funding for working capital purposes. Following a period of significant change and investment, Catalis is today one of the UK’s leading independent video games companies providing a range of services through two divisions: Curve Digital and Testronic Laboratories. Curve is an award-winning publisher of independent video games across all major console and PC platforms with a catalogue of titles including Human: Fall Flat, which has sold in excess of 7 million copies to date. Testronic provides quality assurance services to the global games publishing and film and TV markets. The business has experienced rapid expansion since 2014 and now employs over 1,000 people across its headquarters in London and offices in Los Angeles, Warsaw, Santiago, Brighton, Croydon and Bangkok.
Alongside NorthEdge Capital, Vespa Capital managed funds have committed follow on capital to support management’s growth strategy. Funding will be used to continue the global expansion of Testronic, including the opening of a significant new location in New Orleans, and to support the games development pipeline at Curve. Catalis has several game releases planned for the coming months including the official Narcos game, Narcos: Rise of the Cartels, A Knight’s Quest and Peaky Blinders, based on the hit TV series.
Dominic Wheatley, Chief Executive Officer of Catalis said: “We have enjoyed a long and fruitful partnership with Vespa Capital over the last 5 years and have made significant progress in making Catalis a great business. The transaction announced today is an important move for us. Bringing NorthEdge Capital in to help us grow and continuing to enjoy the support of Vespa Capital is a strong endorsement from two private equity houses. Our ambition is to build the next major UK owned games business to rival those based in other parts of the world. We have the right team and financial backing to take Catalis to the next level.”
“The gaming industry has seen some remarkable growth in recent years, and we are on the cusp of a further explosion in their popularity made possible by streaming. Recent announcements by the likes of Google, Apple and Microsoft will see the industry evolve even further now that these tech giants are investing heavily in this area. Streaming will allow gamers to access high resolution games without having to own a console or high spec PC, attracting an ever-greater audience. Catalis is well placed to benefit from this growth.”
Nigel Hammond, Managing Partner of Vespa Capital said: “We are very pleased with the outcome of this transaction which has enabled us to make an excellent return for investors and retain an ongoing and significant involvement. Catalis has achieved an outstanding record of growth in recent years and has the momentum and opportunity to become a leading business in the sector. We look forward to continuing our relationship with Dominic and the Catalis team.“
Catalis and management advisors included Zeus Capital (Richard Darlington, Mark Barrow, Benjamin Robertson, Jamie Peel, Dan Bate, and Ed Stevenson), Squire Patton Boggs (Adam Hastings, Hannah Crossland, Mark Yeo and Andrew Slucky) (legal), Grant Thornton (Hemal Shah and Sunil Patel) (reporting accountants), Liberty (Tim Thomas and John Holland) (financial), and Integritas (Mark Davies) (legal).
NorthEdge advisors included GCA Altium, Eversheds (legal), PwC (tax structuring and commercial due diligence), and Grant Thornton (financial due diligence).
Debt facilities for the transaction were provided by Tosca Debt Capital and HSBC.