By Ian McConnell

Business Editor

GLASGOW-based private equity house Maven, owned by leader Bill Nixon and 11 fellow partners and launched in 2009 amid the global financial crisis, is being sold for up to £100 million to Mattioli Woods.

Mr Nixon will continue as managing partner of Maven Capital Partners under its new ownership. He added that the other partners would also remain with the business, under a four-year “earn-out” arrangement which is part of the deal.

In an interview with The Herald, Mr Nixon said: “We are all locked in. We are all focused on continuing to grow value further.”

The price includes an initial consideration of £80m, comprising £50m in cash and £30m in shares of Leicester-based wealth and asset manager Mattioli Woods.

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A deferred consideration of up to £20m will be payable in cash, contingent on the Ebitda (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) performance of Maven in the four years following completion of the deal.

Mr Nixon said he was the largest shareholder in Maven among the 12 partners who own the Glasgow-based private equity house but he declined to disclose the size of his stake.

Maven has assets under management of about £772m. Funds under management stood at about £140m in summer 2009, when Mr Nixon

formed Maven by leading a management buyout of the private equity operations of Aberdeen Asset Management.

Looking back, Mr Nixon said: “I guess the genesis of the business was really the great financial crisis …That is really where the opportunity came to set the business up.”

He noted Maven had started with its venture capital trusts as its “cornerstone”, and had then built its high-net worth client base, raised buyout funds, and won public sector equity and debt fund mandates.

Mr Nixon also flagged Maven’s involvement in 16 student accommodation developments, and in housebuilding and office projects. Maven has also diversified into hotel developments.

Asked about whether he had envisaged building a business worth up to £100m when Maven was launched, Mr Nixon said: “We were focused on growing a business which had significant equity value, and one day would be appealing to a buyer.”

Maven has built its staff numbers from 22 in 2009 to around 100, including about 40 in Scotland. It has 10 offices around the UK.

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Mr Nixon said all employees would stay with the business under the deal.

He added: “We may well look to make some savings in central services such as IT or in cities where we share offices but there is no impact on our people. I would not support a deal that saw wholesale reductions in our people. All of the staff will remain with the business.

“We will continue to run independently as a subsidiary of the plc but there are no changes envisaged whatsoever to our personnel.”

Five of the six founding partners are still with Maven. As well as Mr Nixon, the founding partners remaining with the business are Bill Kennedy, Andrew Craig, Andrew Ferguson and Stella Panu. Co-founder Jock Gardiner is no longer a partner of the business but is retained as a consultant, Mr Nixon noted.

He added that, over the last four years, founding partners had “progressively sold down” their stakes to other equity partners.

Mr Nixon declared: “As the business has grown, we have had to grow the partner base.”

He noted he had known Mattioli Woods chief executive Ian Mattioli for more than a decade.

Asked how the deal to sell Maven had come about, Mr Nixon replied: “The business was never marketed for sale. It was just one of these discussions that developed over a period and we progressed. It was just mutual interest. We have admired what they have done and they have seen our growth. It does feel like a very natural partnership.”

Mr Nixon said the deal “marks an important step in the continued evolution and growth of the Maven business”.

He added: “Since being established in 2009, Maven has grown year on year, developed innovative new products and income lines, and has become one of the UK’s most active and dynamic alternative asset managers, supporting more than 400 companies over that period.”

Maven said the acquisition had “obtained regulatory approval and formal completion is expected to happen within weeks”.

Mattioli Woods also yesterday announced its acquisition of Ludlow Wealth Management, a financial planning business in north-west England, for up to £43.5m.

Mr Mattioli said: “The acquisitions of Maven and Ludlow Wealth Management represent meaningful progress towards our ambitious medium-term goals.

“We have a strong track record of combining like-minded businesses that share the same culture and ethos of putting clients first.”

Mattioli Woods has total assets under management, administration and advice in excess of £11 billion, employing more than 600 people at 11 locations across the UK.