OMERS Private Equity (“OMERS PE”) - the private equity arm of OMERS, one of Canada’s largest pension funds - has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Lifeways from August Equity for an undisclosed sum, backing Paul Marriner, CEO in a secondary Management buy-out.
Lifeways is the UK’s market leading provider of supported living services for adults with learning disabilities. Via its national network of 33 offices, Lifeways enables service users to live more independently and take control of how their care and support is planned and delivered, giving the greater empowerment over decisions affecting their lives. Lifeways supports more than 3,400 people, with over 6,300 trained staff able to offer a high level of in-house expertise and experience.
The Supported Living market offers considerable long term growth potential and increasing barriers to entry as the social care and independence benefits of this approach become ever clearer. Reflecting their confidence in the business, Lifeways management will re-invest substantially alongside OMERS PE providing continuity in service and approach going forward.
The UK specialist care sector is highly fragmented and presents significant opportunities for consolidation. OMERS PE will work with the management team to develop the business via both organic growth and acquisitions, and continue the geographic expansion of Lifeways in the UK. Lifeways will also focus on additional services and care provision which complement the core offering, such as autism, acquired brain injuries and highly complex care.
Mark Redman, Senior Managing Director & Country Head, OMERS PE Europe said: “Lifeways is a business we have tracked for a long time and we are delighted to be working with Paul Marriner and his team. Lifeways perfectly fits our investment criteria: it is a market leader in every respect with a proven track record of top quality service and profitable growth both organic and via acquisitions, in a market with sound long term growth fundamentals. Looking ahead, we believe OMERS PE’s “patient capital” approach is ideal for providing the appropriate support to the Lifeways management team, enabling them to capitalise on the significant growth opportunities in what is a fast growing, but fragmented market.”
Paul Marriner, CEO of Lifeways said: “We are delighted to be partnering with OMERS PE as we enter the next stage of our development. In OMERS PE we know we have found the right partner who shares our care-focused philosophy and enthusiasm for the industry, understands the long term investment potential of the business and recognises the vital importance of our work to our service users. Our clients and the quality of care and support we provide are and will remain the single most important parts of our business.”
This acquisition by OMERS PE represents the third direct investment completed by the European private equity team, established in London in 2009 and led by Mark Redman. In 2011 OMERS PE led the $520m buyout of V.Group the global market leader provider of independent ship management services to the global shipping industry. This followed the 2009 investment in Haymarket Financial, a leading independent specialist provider of credit financing to middle-market European businesses.