Business and freelancer services group Optionis has acquired a market-leading firm of tax specialists for an undisclosed sum.
The Brian Alfred Associates deal is the fourth takeover to be completed by Cheshire-headquartered Optionis in the past 18 months.
Established in 2004, Brian Alfred revolutionised the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) tax system by introducing speedy electronic rebates. The West London-based firm has around 5,000 clients and 20 staff.
Following the deal, the Brian Alfred brand will be maintained and will sit within Optionis’ SME-facing division, ClearSky Business.
Optionis group managing director Derek Kelly said: “This acquisition is the latest example of our buy-and-build strategy in the SME space.
“Brian Alfred is a slick and innovative outfit that is already a market leader in its field. I am confident that we will enable the company’s huge potential for further growth to be fulfilled.”
Brian Alfred founder and CEO Paul Atkin, who is stepping down following the acquisition, said: “It gives me great comfort and reassurance to know that I am leaving the business in safe and capable hands.
“The Optionis philosophy of sustainable growth aligns perfectly with our own, and I am sure Brian Alfred will go from strength to strength as part of the group.
“I would like to reassure our clients that, post-acquisition, it will be a case of business as usual. Indeed, the only difference they are likely to notice is further improvement in the services we offer them.”
The acquisition means Optionis now employs more than 300 office-based staff across seven UK sites.
As well as ClearSky Business, the group is home to Parasol and ClearSky Contractor Accounting. Between them, the latter two divisions provide support to tens of thousands of contractors and freelancers every year. Group turnover for 2013/14 was £316m.
In January 2014 Optionis completed a secondary buyout (SBO) backed by international investment firm MML Capital Partners.
The Brian Alfred deal follows takeovers of accountancy practices Wheatley Pearce, Lofts & Co and Michael Brookes & Co since May 2013.
Law firm DWF advised Optionis on its latest acquisition, while EY assisted with financial and tax due diligence.
Brian Alfred was advised by law firm Temple Bright and BDO’s corporate finance team.