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Danny McCance 6 Sep 2019 12:29pm

CogitalGroup loses key backer Permira

Permira has withdrawn its interest in a stake in professional services company CogitalGroup, potentially risking its sale

Negotiations fell through after disagreements arose between the European-based private equity business Permira and CogitalGroup owner Hg Capital regarding the pricing, reports suggested.

Permira was one of four PE groups – Hellman & Freidman, BC Partners and PAI – who had shown interest in acquiring the group, which came out of nowhere three years ago.

The bids, that were due in mid-August, were suspected to value the group at £1bn.

CogitalGroup was launched in August 2016 by John Connolly, ICAEW chartered accountant and former global chairman of Deloitte, with funding from Hg.

The group was initially comprised of London-based accountants Blick Rothenberg and Azets, a Scandinavian business previously known as Visma BPO, and within two months Cogital had bought Baldwins.

 Following a raft of further acquisitions – of Wilkins Kennedy, the 18th largest firm in the UK, and Campbell Dallas in Scotland among others – the group’s revenues hit the £500m mark. It now boasts a workforce of more than 6,500 in around 200 offices across eight European countries.

Hg could seek to sell the stake to another buyer or look to make an initial public offering, however it might also opt to hold on to CogitalGroup, according to Bloomberg.

In 2017, Permira acquired global financial advisor Duff & Phelps for $1.75bn (£1.42bn) with financing being provided by UBS.

Hg has declined to comment. Permira and CogitalGroup have been contacted for comment.

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