Entrepreneur Billy Allan launches £92m investment fund

Well-known Scottish entrepreneur Billy Allan is spearheading an industrially focused support services fund with £92 million of equity capital for investment in small and mid-sized businesses across the UK.
Billy Allan is looking to create 'market leaders' in the support services sector. Picture: ContributedBilly Allan is looking to create 'market leaders' in the support services sector. Picture: Contributed
Billy Allan is looking to create 'market leaders' in the support services sector. Picture: Contributed

Aliter Capital, which is based in Glasgow and London, also announced that it had completed its first equity investment in Edwin James Holdings, an engineering business with its HQ in Glasgow, for an undisclosed sum.

Industry sources said Aliter’s fund was the first of its kind to be focused on businesses in the support services sector, a market now estimated to be worth £300 billion.

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“The founders of Aliter combine a highly unusual blend of industrial experience and investment expertise,” a spokesman said, “with proven experience of successfully building a range of support services businesses over the past 20 years, including EJ Stiell, Europa and Asco Group.”

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Allan, co-founder and managing partner of Aliter, who also chairs Edinburgh-based oil and gas firm Bowleven, said: “The support services sector is dynamic, with many small and mid-sized businesses performing well in their regions and sub sectors.

“We believe there is a huge opportunity to find and grow these businesses to create national operators and market leaders. We can offer these businesses a powerful combination of equity investment and hands on experienced operational support, to help them grow and to create value for shareholders that are looking to stay on with their businesses or de-risk their positions through a sale.”

Allan joined EJ Stiell in 1976, becoming CEO in the late 1990s. With 3i’s backing, he was instrumental in making it the UK’s leading independent facilities management business before selling it to Alfred McAlpine in 2002.

Backed by Phoenix Equity, he then went on to lead Asco Group, building an international logistics support business, before selling it to private equity firm Doughty Hanson in 2012.

He is joined at Aliter by Greig Brown, former CEO of Europa and Emcor, Andy Galloway, former commercial director at Stiell and Europa, and private equity professional Andrew Busby, formerly of HIG Capital and Brookfield.

Of Aliter’s investment in Edwin James Holdings (EJH), Allan, who last month retired from the board of Partick Thistle Football Club, said: “EJH is a great example of the sort of business that we are looking to back, a privately held technical support services business that has an effective management team in place but that is looking for strategic leadership to drive transformational growth.

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“The business has developed a fantastic reputation in Scotland and we see clear potential to help it expand across the UK, creating a market leading national operator.”