Private equity house Endless hits £1bn after closing new fund

Yorkshire Post  

PRIVATE EQUITY investor Endless has completed its fourth fundraising, taking total funds under management to £1bn.

The Yorkshire business said its latest round was “heavily oversubscribed” with most investors pared back on their requests. It raised £525m.

Endless would not name any of the backers but said they include educational endowments, family offices and charitable foundations of “some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs”.

These represent more than 50 per cent of the investor base, with the Endless team the biggest single investor in the new fund.

Darren Forshaw, one of the founding partners, told The Yorkshire Post that the investors come from Europe, the United States and, for the first time, China.

This newspaper revealed in October that Endless was to launch its fourth fund with initial expectations of raising around £400m.

Mr Forshaw said: “It’s a bit more than expected. Obviously we are delighted with the demand.

“The track record of previous funds has helped us get to that position. We were widely told it will be in the top five per cent of funds across Europe.”

Endless was founded in Leeds nine years ago and has invested in around 50 businesses to date.

The firm said its global investors “share our commitment to investing on a socially responsible agenda”.

Endless added: “It is important for our team and a motivating factor that the investment profits we distribute to our investment partners are used to fund education and charitable projects, medical research and workers’ pensions all over the world. Having delivered strong returns in our previous funds, the vast majority of existing investors have also committed to the new fund.”

Endless has attracted an exotic mix of backers since its launch, including wealthy Yorkshire businessmen such as property entrepreneur David Newett, sports stars such as former England and Leeds United defender Danny Mills and American footballer Joe Montana and Ivy League universities.

The private equity house typically backs buyouts, non-core acquisitions and turnarounds and prides itself on an active approach. Endless said it would continue to support businesses across the mid-market sector, with turnover ranging from £10m to £500m.

Mr Forshaw added that the firm will diversify into new areas after a “fantastic” year in 2014 which saw it break house records on transactions, capital deployment, realisation, value growth and number of employees.

The Endless portfolio now employs 12,000 people, he added. The firm also completed its first public to private deal with the acquisition of Office2office, the business supplies provider, and launched a dedicated £10m fund for SMEs called Enact.

“We have great momentum in the business and continue to recruit significantly. Everything points north at the moment, which is great,” said Mr Forshaw.

He sounded a note of optimism on the state of the economy. He said: “The general business commentary has started to be a bit more uncertain with the global outlook and the general election.

“That was always likely to be the case. What we see in our portfolio is generally strong tailwinds and positivity.”

Endless made its name as a turnaround investor and made handsome returns on stakes in firms like Crown Paints and Peter Black International.

Mr Forshaw said Endless should perform even better in a growth environment. The firm, which is led by managing partner Garry Wilson, expects to invest £150m this year.