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Duke Royalty exits Welltel as UK's Livingbridge invests in firm


Potential: Chief executive Ross Murray was one of the founders of Welltel

Potential: Chief executive Ross Murray was one of the founders of Welltel

Potential: Chief executive Ross Murray was one of the founders of Welltel

Guernsey-based Duke Royalty has exited its investment in Irish telecoms and IT services firm Welltel, generating a 27pc return.

Meanwhile, UK private equity firm Livingbridge said it has invested in Welltel, which has about 3,500 clients including Permanent TSB, Zurich, Specsavers and Northern Ireland Water. Livingbridge said it intends to support Welltel in further acquisition activity.

AIM-listed its position in Welltel, making for an investment rate of return of 27pc on its involvement in the Irish company.

Welltel was the single largest investment in Duke Royalty’s portfolio.

“Due to the minimally dilutive features of Duke’s offering, Welltel’s shareholders have retained majority ownership and control throughout Duke’s period of investment, allowing significant value creation for their shareholders,” according to the investment firm.

Duke Royalty has bankrolled a number of acquisitions made by Welltel, including the Irish company’s purchase in August of Irish firm Intellicom.

It also supported its €3m acquisition of Kildare-based ICT firm Novi for €3m in July.

Welltel was founded by in 2007 by its chief executive Ross Murray and executive chairman John Quinn.

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It now employs more than 130 people and is expected to generated €17m in turnover this year. That’s double the amount it posted in 2017.

Mr Quinn said that Duke Royalty had enabled Welltel to execute several M&A transactions in a short period of time and to grow “without the fear and distraction” of having to refinance loans at a time of rapid growth and value creation.

Livingbridge said it identified Welltel as a sector leader “poised to benefit from the increasing momentum in the communications and IT services market”.

“With its proven track-record in the sector, Livingbridge will accelerate Welltel’s ambitious growth plans by supporting its M&A programme and its organic expansion,” the private equity firm noted.

“It will also significantly invest in Welltel’s infrastructure to allow for the business to scale at pace," it added.

Mr Murray said Welltel was looking forward to working with Livingbridge to lead the firm into the next phase of its growth.

“Livingbridge has a longstanding reputation for helping businesses achieve their potential,” he said.

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