Digital talent specialist The Up Group acquired by Alexander Mann Solutions

The Up Group, Europe’s leading digital search, advisory and networking firm, has been acquired by the world’s largest talent solutions groups, Alexander Mann Solutions (AMS), backed by investors OMERS Private Equity, the private equity arm of one of Canada’s largest pension groups. The move that will provide both organisations’ clients with a broad range of strategic digital leadership resourcing solutions.

The Business Services sector team at Arrowpoint Advisory has advised The Up Group founder Clare Johnston and Livingbridge, one of the UK’s leading mid-market private equity investors, on the sale to AMS, having originally advised Clare on her transaction with Livingbridge in 2016.

Through the acquisition, the combined expertise across both businesses will provide global recruitment solutions for digital and non-digital organisations looking to transform their leadership capability.

Livingbridge invested in 2016 having recognised The Up Group’s unique offering and backing an experienced senior management team led by Clare and CFO Jed Butcher.  Since then, the firm has cemented its reputation as a trusted adviser in boardrooms across Europe, gaining widespread recognition as the talent leader of choice within the digital ecosystem.

In parallel, Up has built a hugely impressive client base across VC and PE-backed as well as listed companies, digital pure-plays and multichannel, including brands such as Farfetch, Booking, Airbnb, Trainline, Onfido, Nike, Kingfisher and HomeServe.  It has also accelerated its well-known events programme, the Digital Masters, which sees Up now convene circa 2,000 people annually in the US and across Europe at various events including the pan-European talent awards, the DMAs.

David Leigh, CEO of Alexander Mann Solutions commented: “With all firms increasingly focusing on digital transformation, digital skillsets are now more in demand than ever. There is no organisation which helps deliver this agenda better than The Up Group. While we have admired Up for many years, and tracked its progress, we are now delighted to be able to combine forces.”

Clare Johnston, CEO and Founder of The Up Group, added: “Alongside the potential growth opportunities for The Up Group by joining forces with AMS, of equal importance to me and the team was the cultural fit of the two organisations. Our values are very closely aligned - both our businesses are built upon the principles of client-centricity, delivering outstanding work, building long-term relationships, being agile, responsive, collaborative and insightful. I am truly excited about the next chapter for both businesses.”

Mark Turner, Partner at Livingbridge, observed: “I am thrilled with the level of success achieved by The Up Group, particularly over the past four years. It has been a real pleasure to partner with Clare and the team to further consolidate their leadership position in the digital talent sector. Arrowpoint Advisory’s long association with the Up Group team and business, and excellent understanding of the Human Capital sector, were invaluable in driving an attractive outcome despite the challenges of transacting in a Covid-distracted market.”

Jeremy Furniss, Managing Director at Arrowpoint Advisory, concluded: “We are delighted to have accompanied Clare and the team at The Up Group on their journey since 2015 and are confident that the partnership with AMS will consolidate the firm’s market-leading position across the Digital domain. The Up Group’s strong performance throughout a challenging 2020 has provided the principals with the confidence to strike this strategically significant deal despite the many macro headwinds.”

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