UKFast, a fast-growing hosting provider from the UK headquartered in Manchester, has engaged a team from global investment bank, GCA Altium, headed by their CEO, Phil Adams, to review strategic options including a potential float.
Founded in 1999, UKFast has 19 years’ experience in delivering hosting solutions to businesses, specializing in hybrid and private cloud solutions, dedicated servers and colocation. The firm fully owns and operates five data centers in Manchester. The family of businesses owned by founders Lawrence and Gail Jones employs 450 people, with UKFast directly employing 325. UKFast is one of the largest independently owned hosting providers in the UK, having a current revenue run-rate of more than £50 million and posting £47 million turnover in 2017.
The Manchester, UK-based hosting firm last year achieved 18% organic growth and has delivered +45% adjusted EBITDA margins in recent years while expecting to declare a similar profit margin for 2018.
Founder owners Lawrence and Gail Jones have appointed GCA Altium to open up funds for further growth and investment with IPO – expected to be worth upwards of £350m – being a prime option under review.
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“We’ve given away shares in the company to loyal teammates who work incredibly hard, but we’ve never seriously considered selling shares before now,” said Lawrence Jones MBE, CEO of UKFast. “Timing is critical and a great deal depends on market conditions, so that’s why we’ve appointed GCA Altium. UKFast is now at a stage where it has strong brand equity and our products have evolved to be truly world class. Last year’s 18% growth demonstrates that we’re continuing to innovate and that we’ve got something special here. Our EBITDA today is larger than turnover was five years ago. This fact alone tells me that the British cloud market is incredibly strong and has a bright future ahead of it.”
Last year UKFast acquired public sector cloud and security specialists Secure-IA which has deep public sector and government credentials. The fast-growing public sector business is set to be rolled into UKFast’s core business in the next quarter.
“Secure-IA proved to be a fantastic acquisition for us and that area has doubled in size in the last 12 months,” added Mr. Jones. “We’ve seen from the deals we’re winning in the public sector and at government level that there’s an appetite from British organizations to deal with other British organizations. There are many more great technology businesses out there that complement UKFast and that we’d be interested in acquiring. An IPO gives us the funds and the clout to look at deals that are currently out of reach.”
The IPO news comes at the heels of UKFast announcing the launch of a new business, ClearCloud, that specializes in supporting public cloud offerings from Amazon Web
Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure along with its own dedicated, eCloud Hybrid and eCloud Private solutions.
ClearCloud is a subsidiary of UKFast and launches with the purpose of broadening the firm’s multicloud offering to its 5,000 clients, alongside winning new AWS and Azure customers looking for high-quality, UK-based support.
“The British hosting market is incredibly exciting and, whilst there’s a lot of talk around AWS and Azure,” added Mr. Jones. “The industry’s adoption of multicloud strategies means there’s a huge opportunity for British cloud providers to give the US organizations a run for their money.