Swindon & Wiltshire Business News

Veterinary education company completes management buyout

Philip Humphreys


A Swindon-based global provider of continuing education to the veterinary sector has been bought out by its management team, backed by an equity investment company.

Improve, whose UK headquarters are at Alexandra House, provides both specialist postgraduate courses and qualifications as well as continuing professional development training to veterinary professionals.

Founded in 1998, Improve established a training headquarters comprising lecture rooms and wet-lab facilities, allowing delegates to practise surgical procedures to complement their theoretical study.

The firm training is delivered directly in eight countries and through license partners in a further six.

In 2015 Improve was bought by Benchmark Holdings plc, a market leader in sustainable agriculture, aquaculture, and animal health.

Benchmark will receive a total cash consideration of up to £12.75m, comprising a £9.5m initial payment on completion and deferred consideration of up to £3.25m dependent on certain performance conditions being met, as part of the deal.

The MBO was backed by equity investment company RJD, which has taken a majority stake in Improve, investing alongside the management team led by CEO, Heber Alves, who is based in Improve’s Portuguese office, and original founder, David Babington.

Frank Bulman, Emily Henderson and Richard Caston led the investment for RJD and Frank and Emily will be joining the board of Improve.

The management team was advised by Swindon-based commercial law firm Clark Holt, having previously acted on the sale of Improve to Benchmark in 2015.

Philip Humphreys, Gail Vallis and Peter James worked with the management team over the last nine-months, providing advice on all corporate and commercial legal aspects of their investment and the equity incentive arrangements for them going forward.

Philip, head of the corporate department, said: "It was a pleasure to work with Heber and his team again and to play a part in helping them achieve their goal, despite the challenges created by Covid-19. You will not find a more committed team and one who are as truly passionate about their profession as they are. We wish the team every success for the future."

Heber Alves said: “I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude for all the care and concern that Clark Holt showed during the entire process. They never gave up and always looked after our interests. The good lawyer is not the man who has an eye to every side and angle of contingency, but one who throws himself on your behalf so heartily that you feel he is part of your team. Philip and his colleagues were definitely part of our team and we could not have had better support and guidance.”

Gary Partridge, Thomas Edwards and Pablo Shorney at Lexington Corporate Finance acted as lead corporate finance advisor to the MBO team. They played a key role in advising the management team throughout the transaction process and supported RJD to complete their investment.