Ogier fiduciary partners complete £180m MBO of business

Offshore firm Ogier has sold its fiduciary business in a management buy-out backed by private equity company Electra Partners, which values the business at £180m.

The sale, which completed on Saturday (1 February), sees a split between the law firm and the fiduciary business in the latest development of the complex relationships between offshore firms and their aligned services companies.

Electra Partners is investing £83m of equity into the business, which will enable Ogier Fiduciary Services to continue growing.

The fiduciary business will continue to share premises with the law firm, and will also retain the Ogier brand for a transitional period.

The sale has also seen a shake-up in the management of the law firm. Ogier group CEO Nick Kershaw is taking over as global managing partner and managing partner responsible for Europe, while Ogier’s legal CEO James Bergstrom becomes regional managing partner for Asia and the Caribbean. Kershaw said the restructure was designed to shift the firm’s focus on to sector-based lines rather than jurisdictional lines.

“We’re giving greater responsibility to service-line heads,” he said.

Kershaw said the sale was motivated by the need for the fiduciary to expand and the fact it had reached a point where outside investment was the best way forwards.

“There comes a point when a business like that requires significant levels of investment to expand in the way it has ambitions to do,” he said.

Ogier Fiduciary Services currently employs 450 people in 10 jurisdictions, including its most recent outpost in Luxembourg (10 January 2012). The business has expanded from employing just 15 people in Jersey 15 years ago.

The news follows the 2012 sale of Caribbean firm Walkers’ fiduciary, Walkers Management Services, to Intertrust (6 March 2012) and the earlier sale of Jersey firm Mourant du Feu & Jeune’s fiduciary arms in 2009 (2 February 2009) which paved the way for the firm’s merger with Guernsey’s Ozannes (24 July 2011).

Ogier Fiduciary Services will be led by current CEO Paul Willing, supported by the existing executive team, and there is expected to be no change to client relationships. The business offers services in areas including fund administration and private wealth management.

The transaction leaves Ogier’s law firm with a presence in eight jurisdictions – the British Virgin Islands, Cayman, Guernsey, Hong Kong, Jersey, Luxembourg, Shanghai and Tokyo. Ogier does not offer legal services in Bahrain and Dublin, where the fiduciary has offices.

In a statement Willing said: “The Ogier Group has provided us with a solid foundation and enabled us to grow the business to the size, reach and scale that it enjoys today. However, we believe that the time is right to accelerate our growth through the additional investment and support that Electra will provide.”

Electra’s chief investment partner Alex Fortescue added that the increasing regulation and internationalisation of the corporate and investment management markets served by Ogier Fiduciary Services fitted with the company’s core investment themes.

Addleshaw Goddard advised Ogier on the transaction, with Macfarlanes acting for Ogier Fiduciary Services’ partners and Clifford Chance picking up the advisory role for Electra.