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Accountancy firm Azets’ owner runs numbers on £1.5bn sale

The owner of one of Britain’s fastest-growing accountancy firms is drawing up plans for a sale that could value it at close to £1.5bn.

Sky News has learnt that Hg, the private equity firm, has hired investment bankers at JP Morgan to oversee an auction of Azets.

City sources said on Thursday that a sale was likely to put a price tag on Azets – which was previously called Cogital – of between £1bn and £1.5bn.

Azets claims to be the largest provider of business-critical services such as accounting work, payroll and tax to small and medium-sized businesses in northern Europe.

In total, it boasts more than 100,000 SME customers.

The company trades under a number of brands, including Blick Rothenberg, which formed part of a 2016 merger that saw Hg become a shareholder in the business.

Since then, it has made a string of acquisitions to bolster its presence in several countries.

Cogital was jointly founded by John Connolly, the former Deloitte UK chief executive and one of the most prominent figures in Britain’s professional services sector.

Mr Connolly, a former chairman of the security services provider G4S, subsequently left the business.

In 2019, Hg held talks about the sale of a sizeable stake in Cogital to several other private equity firms, including Permira and BC Partners, but a transaction was never completed.

The group’s rebranding under the Azets name took place the following year.

It recently announced a strategic partnership with Xero, an accounting software provider.

A sale process for Azets is unlikely to commence until next year, according to insiders.

When it does, it will take place against a backdrop of accelerating structural change in the accountancy world, with EY proposing a global separation of its audit and consulting businesses.

A spokesman for Hg declined to comment.