PracticeConsultingPwC acquires Coba in £7m deal

PwC acquires Coba in £7m deal

PricewaterhouseCoopers has acquired specialist leveraged buy-out boutique Coba Group Ltd in a deal estimated to be worth £7m.

The acquisition will create a new group of 50 strategy consultants that will work within PwC’s transaction services practice, making it one of the largest in the UK.

Coba managing director Nick Hewitt will lead the new team, supported by David Packford of PwC and Coba’s Alastair Rimmer and Mark Parry.

Coba has offices in London and Paris, serving mainly corporate and private equity clients.The group has advised on more than 400 transactions since it was founded in 1986, including Gala Bingo’s acquisition of Ladbroke Casinos.

It was acquired by Renaissance Worldwide, and subsequently bought out by its management in February 1999.

Coba’s Nick Hewitt is said to be very well connected in the private equity market, from where it receives most of its business.

Paul Rawlinson, UK head of Transaction Services at PwC, said: ‘The formation of the new strategy group is extremely exciting and adds strength to our existing consulting capability in the deals market.

‘We now have an unrivalled line-up of strategic and analytical skills with in-depth industry specialism and cross-border capability,’ he said.

The deal comes at a difficult time for the industry, where conflicting signals on the state of the market are privately causing concern among advisers.

While the deal flow in the middle market appears to be holding up, recent surveys suggest that merger and acquisition activity at the top end has all but dried up.

Rawlinson said: ‘The last quarter has seen a record level of deals for PwC. That said, we are also seeing a higher abort rate as well.’

But Hewitt was upbeat about the future prospects for Coba within PwC.

He said: ‘This is great news for Coba, for our clients and for our people. Through PwC, we will have access to an unrivalled resource base of industry sector specialists, international resources and a significantly larger team.’

PwC’s acquisition of Coba also comes at a difficult time for the firm itself.

The firm is currently looking to hive off its consulting practice and has not ruled out similar moves for other areas, including corporate finance and transaction service work. And observers questioned why Coba would want to join at a time of such uncertainty. But Rawlinson dismissed the criticisms.

‘The environment at PwC is much more stable than outsiders would have you believe,’ he said.

Links

More details at www.pwcglobal.com

Coba’s website is at www.coba.co.uk

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