THE driving force between the growth of fleet manager Zenith has bought into FMG, the road incident specialist.
Andrew Cope is becoming executive chairman after investing an undisclosed significant sum in the Huddersfield-based business.
He is understood to be buying equal stakes from FMG chairman Nick Brown and private equity backer Spirit Capital Partners.
The deal comes after HG Capital completed the fifth management buyout of Leeds-based Zenith in a £200m transaction.
Mr Cope, the former chief executive and chairman, exited Zenith after 25 years with the business, but remains as a minority shareholder.
Mr Cope told The Yorkshire Post he was keen to find something new to get involved in and had known FMG for a number of years.
He said: “It is a very exciting opportunity and allows me to make the step up to a chairman role and investor role and work with chief executive John Catling and the team who are very highly rated. Hopefully I will be able to help the business continue and develop.”
The company said the deal will bring additional expertise to an already strong board and allow FMG to extend its range of customer benefits.
FMG looks to increase fleet profitability and business effectiveness by working with clients to identify and implement efficiency and driver safety improvements.
Mr Cope said: “There is a lot of change going on in our sector. There is continued consolidation with fewer players in the market. They are looking to outsource more and more of their services to specialist partners.
“That direction of travel is something we have seen for a while and I see FMG as very well placed in moving into that world and doing well.”
FMG had a turnover of £85m and core earnings of £2.9m last year. It employs 320 people.
Mr Catling will remain as chief executive. He said: “We have the strongest pipeline in years, not just in numbers but in quality. We have just had a major business win that we are soon to announce.
“It is a strong market but we have to pick which elements we believe we can be successful in.”
These include pure incident management and fleet maintenance in mission-critical vehicles, such as the police and Highways Agency, he added.
Mr Cope said: “I have been brought into the business to help with the future growth, which will potentially include acquisitions and or further MBO activity.”
The fleet management industry is going through some big changes. First, personal injury legislation banned referral fees forced FMG to change its business model.
New technology is also driving change as data on cars and drivers becomes increasingly linked to insurance practice.
Mr Brown, who will be taking up a non-executive position, said: “We’re all welcoming Andrew to the FMG team, and look forward to working with him in the future.”