North East-based energy consultancy business targets further growth following acquisition by AIM-listed Inspired Energy plc

RG Corporate Finance has advised on the sale of North East-based energy consultancy Squareone Enterprise Ltd to AIM-listed Inspired Energy plc to support the company’s growth ambitions.

Boldon-based Squareone was established in 2004 and works with businesses to procure and manage utilities services and is focused on helping customers not only control costs, but also reduce energy usage.

Founded by Michael Harkus and Karen Bays, the business has enjoyed consistent growth in the past 14 years securing high profile regional and national customers.

From its base in the Quadrus Centre, the business has also been recognised in its industry having secured the national award for Best Customer Service at the prestigious Energy Live Consultancy Awards.

To support the long-term future of the business, the founding shareholders engaged RG Corporate Finance to source a strategic partner, which could support its growth, but also share its focus on the reduction of energy usage.

AIM-listed Inspired Energy plc is parent to 16 subsidiaries across the UK engaged in energy consultancy services. In the financial year ending December 2017, Inspired Energy’s revenue was £27.46m, which is a 28% increase from £21.51m on the previous year. The company achieved an Adjusted EBITDA of £11m, a rise of 33 percent on £8.26m in 2016.

Inspired Energy plc has been very active from an M&A perspective, having recently acquired Horizon Energy Group in 2017 and SystemLink and Energy Cost Management, in 2018.

Advising the Squareone Enterprise Ltd’s shareholders were RG Corporate Finance’s Carl Swansbury and Adam Cassidy with tax advice from Simon Whiteside.  Legal advice was provided by Jemil Visram and Jeremy Swift from DWF.

Inspired Energy plc received legal advice from Gateley plc. FDD was provided by Grant Thornton.

Michael Harkus, Managing Director of Squareone Enterprise Ltd, said: “As part of Inspired Energy plc we can better deliver upon our ambitions to grow the business and continue to deliver the best level of service to our customers.  There are some strong synergies between the two organisations, most notably culture and our drive for the reduction in energy consumption among our customers in support of our commitment to the environment.”

Commenting on the acquisitions, Mark Dickinson, CEO of Inspired Energy said: “We are delighted to conclude the acquisition of Squareone, which is a highly complementary addition to Inspired’s core Corporate Division. The Squareone team are well respected within the sector, and were deservedly recognised as such at the 2018 Energy Live Consultancy Awards. The Acquisition further enhances our customer base and strengthens our sector specialisms.

“We look forward to working closely with the highly experienced and knowledgeable team of Squareone and welcome them into our core Corporate Division as we continue to advance our position as a market leader.”

Carl Swansbury, Partner at RG Corporate Finance, said: “This is a strategically important acquisition, both in terms of providing Squareone Enterprise Ltd with the support it requires for future growth, but also by enabling Inspire Energy plc to establish its presence in the North East market.  Michael and Karen have built a strong business with excellent client relationships, which have flourished through a shared commitment to control costs and, importantly, be mindful of the environmental need to reduce energy usage.  This will continue as the business grows as part of Inspired Energy plc, and I wish both parties well in their new strategic relationship.”