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Venture capitalist buys 70 per cent stake in HPI

Seventy per cent of the equity in HPI, the UK's largest vehicle information provider, has been acquired by the independent venture capitalist Phoenix Equity Partners.

The deal, worth £70m, effectively doubles HPI's value and follows two years of rapid development and expansion since the company's 3i-backed buyout from Equifax at the end of 2000.

Managing director Simon Walker, who led the latest transaction with finance director Giles Elliott, says the cash injection will enable HPI to consolidate its web-based HPI Exchange, its core HPI Monitor vehicle registration and checking systems and to plan for expansion.

“The Phoenix partnership gives us the opportunity to build on the solid financial and product platform which has been created over the last two years. It also enables us to grow through acquisition and sends out a very positive message to the market,” he says. Former chief executive Martin Rowley retains a 15 per cent stake in the business. With Walker and Elliot on the otherwise un-changed HPI board are external affairs director Martin Brassell, customer operations director Joanne Helson and IT director John Kimber.

Established in 1938, HPI is the UK's largest source of vehicle information for the automotive industry and consumers, with a claimed market share of more than 60 per cent. HPI checks are designed to give purchasers instant confirmation of whether vehicles are correctly described, known to be subject to outstanding finance or serious accident damage or recorded as stolen or “clocked”. Its closest rival is Experian.

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