MHA Moore and Smalley advises on management buy-in at water services firm

Water Direct, a leading UK supplier of alternative and emergency water services based in Essex, has secured new investment following a management buy-in – a deal supported by the corporate finance team at MHA Moore and Smalley.

The transaction facilitates a management buy-in led by Adam Johnson, principal of Soris Capital Partners, who will run the business as CEO post-completion.

Adam brings strong management and business development experience and a successful record of selling into large utilities.

Our corporate finance team advised Adam Johnson and Soris Capital on the acquisition, providing financial and tax due diligence and wider deal advisory input. The deal has been backed by Ethos Partners and a debt package provided by Shawbrook Bank.

Ethos has invested alongside Adam, a group of leading search fund investors from Europe and the USA, and the incoming non-executive chairman, Andy Smith. Andy brings significant water industry experience, having spent 16 years at Severn Trent plc, including as Director of Water Services and Group HR Director.

Adam Johnson, CEO, said: “I’m thrilled to be joining the talented and dedicated team at Water Direct at a pivotal moment in the company’s journey, as we grow our industry-leading A&E water services with water utilities and commercial customers across the UK. I am also very excited to invest further in our WaterTight™ contingency planning offering to do our part in keeping Britain’s water supply always on.”

Water Direct has been bought from FGS Utilities Limited a provider of agricultural contracting, recycling, and utility services. The deal enables FGS to focus on its core business.

Jonathan West, the current managing director of Water Direct, will step back from his leadership role while continuing to provide his services to the company on a part-time basis. The rest of Water Direct’s current management team and 49 staff will work alongside Adam to drive the continued growth of the business.

Jo Cockburn, Investment Director at Ethos, commented: “We are hugely excited to invest in Water Direct and to support Adam and the management team during the business’ next phase of growth.

“Water Direct is the market leader in A&E water provision to utilities and plays an important role in ensuring continued access to water for consumers and businesses, at a time when the increasing incidence of extreme weather and ageing water infrastructure are resulting in a higher frequency of disruptive events.

“We believe the business is well-placed to continue the growth that has been achieved under Jonathan’s leadership and to cement its position as the most reliable and trusted provider of A&E water services nationwide.”

The deal team at MHA Moore and Smalley was led by Simon Carruthers and Ian Waddingham in the corporate finance team and tax partner David Bennett.

Simon Carruthers, corporate finance director at MHA Moore and Smalley, said: “This is a significant transaction that enables new investment and exciting growth potential for a company that plays such a vital role in ensuring the continuity of water supplies in the UK.

“We’re proud to have supported Adam in putting together this important deal and wish the team luck as they embark on this next phase of the journey.”

Founded in 1996 and based in Earls Colne, Water Direct provides alternative and emergency (A&E) water and other water services to most UK water utilities firms and to over 600 businesses.

The company offers its services through the UK’s largest dedicated fleet of water tankers and through its unique Nationwide Bottled Water Bank™ consisting of 20 strategically located storage sites.