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Zenith in £40m MBO

Management at Leeds-based Zenith Vehicle Contracts, one the UK’s largest independent vehicle leasing companies, have completed their third buyout of the company in less than four years.

The management team, headed by chief executive Andrew Cope and finance director Mark Phillips, has been backed in the £40 million deal by Barclays private equity. Royal Bank of Scotland provided the senior debt and working capital facilities.

The original buyout of the company, which was founded 18 years ago, took place in 2003 and the second deal, which valued Zenith at £27m, was completed 18 months later in 2005 with the support of Dunedin Capital Partners.

Zenith is now one of the UK’s leading fleet management specialists with 18,000 vehicles under management.

Cope said: “The MBO will allow the management team to grow the business significantly over the next five years in partnership with a supportive private equity partner.”

“Zenith has thrived on its independence and different way of doing things. What was especially important to us was to secure the long-term future of the business while continuing to hold the majority stake in the company.”

Steve O’Hare, investment director at Barclays Private Equity, who will be a non-executive on the board, said: “The management team has built a quality, service-led proposition and we believe Zenith can be used as a platform for future organic growth.”

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