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Significant stake in BaxterStorey owner WSH to be sold to US firm

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Significant stake in BaxterStorey owner WSH to be sold to US firm

A stake in BaxterStorey and Searcys parent company WSH is to be sold to American private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice in a deal that values the business at £780m ($1b).

The US investor has acquired “a significant stake” in the business.

Alastair Storey, chairman and founder of WSH, said: “WSH is a thriving business continually looking at ways to grow. As such we regularly review our business structures including those relating to financial matters.”

It is reported in the Wall Street Journal that Storey will remain on the board as a key shareholder as part of the transaction.

The deal for the business which also includes Benugo, Searcys, Holroyd Howe, Caterlink and Portico, is thought to represent an endorsement of the UK economy by the US-based firm, which had made significant a return having sold Brakes Group to Bain Capital for £2b in 2007 five years after buying the distributor for £511m.

It may also be a reflection of the devaluation of the pound since the Brexit vote, which has made the acquisition of British businesses more attractive to overseas investment.

In its last reported accounts WSH saw turnover hit £828m for the year to 29 December 2017. Pre-tax profit in the period rose 29% to £7.5m.

Alastair Storey topped the list of The Caterer’s Top 100 Most Powerful People in Hospitality in 2018. He founded WSH in 2000 and has been the driving force behind what was the largest independent contract caterer in the UK.

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