Investment office of Scots entrepreneur Sir Brian Souter seals Canadian disposal

Souter Investments, the private family investment office of Stagecoach Group co-founder and Scottish entrepreneur Sir Brian Souter – is offloading an IT firm to a Canadian peer.
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The private equity-focused firm has inked an agreement to sell Stone Technologies Group, which specialises in “circular” IT, to Toronto Stock Exchange-listed Converge Technology Solutions Corp., a software-enabled IT and cloud services provider. The transaction, terms of which were not disclosed, remains subject to regulatory approval.

Stone is described as having served the UK’s public and private sectors for more than 30 years, helping thousands of organisations to adapt and thrive in a changing technology landscape, including the delivery of personalised services, and providing “reliable” IT support. It aims to make a “true and lasting” impact on the way technology is sold, providing a full circular procurement cycle for clients for the good of the environment and future generations.

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Souter acquired a majority stake in Stone, whose HQ is pictured, in 2019. Picture: contributed.Souter acquired a majority stake in Stone, whose HQ is pictured, in 2019. Picture: contributed.
Souter acquired a majority stake in Stone, whose HQ is pictured, in 2019. Picture: contributed.
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Souter, which says it has invested more than £500 million in 70-plus unquoted companies, acquired a majority stake in Stone in 2019, investing alongside its management team and a syndicate of investors managed by private equity house RJD Partners.

It added that since acquisition, Stone has flourished and expanded its range of products, services, and solutions, including the rollout of the Stone 360 IT recycling app, which is billed as making management of end-of-life technology simple, ensuring responsible e-waste disposal, and allowing customers to make progress towards their sustainability goals.

Lincoln International is acting as financial adviser for Stone’s shareholders. Dickson Minto is legal adviser for Souter Investments and RJD Partners, with Freeths representing management.

Stone chief executive Simon Harbridge commented: “In 2019 we were looking for the right partner to support the next stage of Stone’s development. It has been a pleasure to work with Sir Brian, John, and the Souter team as well as David MacLellan and RJD Partners.

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"The emergence of Covid on the heels of Souter’s investment confirmed our decision to partner with them, with pragmatic advice and considered support the norm, allowing us to focus on our successful growth and transformation strategy. We look forward to continuing our exciting journey as part of the Converge family of businesses.”


John Berthinussen, managing director at Souter Investments, said: “We have really enjoyed working alongside Simon and his team, who have shown real market leadership and a true commitment to sustainability and tackling the problem of e-waste.

"Stone has grown very strongly, marrying a focus on providing truly innovative and market leading products, services, and solutions with outstanding customer service, all things that resonate with its clients. We look forward to seeing that continue in partnership with Converge, and wish Simon and his team every success in the future.”

The deal follows Souter’s recent sale of Duke Street-backed specialist care provider Voyage Care to infrastructure investment manager Wren House, as well as the stock market flotation of Ashtead Technologies, a co-investment with Buckthorn Partners, which provides subsea equipment rental services, high-end technologies, and support services to the global offshore energy sector.

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In addition, Souter has added Leader, a Bulgarian producer of e-bikes, and international higher education student recruitment specialist SI-UK to its portfolio. Last year it announced the sale of Pet Network International alongside the completion of three new investments, and in 2019 it sold two New Zealand bus firms, for example.