YSC (2017)

Deal summary

YSC Consulting is the leading independent global provider of leadership consulting and management assessment services to corporate and private equity clients. The group is headquartered in London and has a further 16 offices in Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific. A key area for growth is its large and fast-growing practice in the US, the world’s largest leadership consultancy market, with offices in New York, Chicago, Boston and San Francisco.

The global leadership development market is estimated to be worth £1.8 billion, growing at 10 per cent per annum. YSC has built a large and diverse blue-chip customer base of more than 400 organisations of which almost 60 per cent are in the FTSE 250 or Fortune 500. Its global clients include Qantas, HSBC, Diageo, GlaxoSmithKline, Tesco, BHP and BP. Underpinned by the quality, breadth and global reach of its services, YSC has created a track record of sustained organic growth, with high levels of repeat revenues.

YSC works mainly with C-suite executives, developing trusted, long-term relationships. It employs 220 staff, of whom around 100 are highly qualified consultants with backgrounds in psychology, business and management, and behavioural sciences. YSC also maintains a tight network of associates who provide additional resource depending on the scope of the assignment.

In 2013, we advised on the original YSC MBO which saw the founders step back from the business and transition management over to Robert Sharrock and team. In 2017 its private equity shareholders decided it was time to realise their investment and put the business up for sale. We advised Graphite Capital on its successful bid for the business.

What difference did we make?

Graphite Capital have a strong and successful record of investing in high quality human capital businesses, and knew that we had advised on the original MBO and had a relationship with the business and its private equity backers, and so asked us to advise them on their bid. We advised on entry pricing, bid tactics and sat alongside the Graphite team supporting on all aspects of the deal. We helped bridge between the buyer and seller negotiations on getting exclusivity and finalising the locked box and value bridge.

An important feature of YSC is that it is the only remaining independent global leadership consulting business and so management were keen to do a deal with private equity that kept this status. Graphite invested considerable time early in the process to build a strong relationship with the CEO and his team and demonstrated their desire to back them in delivering their growth plan. Graphite’s experience in helping investee companies strengthen their presence in the US was another factor that led to management preferring their bid over others including potential trade bidders.

We worked closely with Graphite’s other advisers on project managing the deal including structuring for a large shareholder base in multiple jurisdictions. The deal was completed in three weeks from being given exclusivity.

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What our client said
"It was a pleasure to work with Catalyst/Alantra on our investment in YSC. We saw them very much as an extension of our own team and were impressed by their commitment to the deal and the insight they brought through their significant experience of consulting businesses and the wider sector in which YSC operates." Humphrey Baker
Partner, Graphite Capital