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EMC completes the sale of Employer Services Limited to Baker Tilly

15 oct ESL completion aa
16th Oct

EMC is delighted to announce the sale of its client, Employer Services Limited, to Baker Tilly, the 7th largest accounting firm in the UK, for an undisclosed sum.

Employer Services Limited (ESL) is a specialist payroll bureau based in Brentwood, Essex and employs 45 staff, all of whom will be joining Baker Tilly. The company processes large and complex payrolls and has an enviable list of blue chip clients.

Founded in 1999, it has grown steadily and profitably to become one of the leading independent bureaux in the UK, picking up a number of business awards en route. The shareholders had long envisaged an exit in 2015 and have achieved that with a few weeks to spare.

EMC Director Desmond High said: “We have worked with ESL since 2007, initially providing advice on sales and business development. In 2008 the company had an unsolicited approach from a European bureau, and I first became involved then. Subsequently we have been involved with both sales and financial strategy and latterly the grooming for sale, so a great example of EMC’s multi-disciplinary offering.

“Last year we advised on the sale of the company’s cloud payroll product, PaySuite, to Intuit Inc, the US Fortune 500 company and that cleared the way for the sale of the core bureau business this year.”

He added: “It was a rather unusual transaction in that Baker Tilly have been taxation advisers and reporting accountants to ESL since 2013 after they had acquired Tenon, so they had to create all sorts of Chinese Walls within their organisation to avoid conflicts of interest. This was not without its challenges but was more a coincidence than anything else.”

ESL CEO Stuart Hall, who will take on a consulting role within the firm, commented: “We have had a number of unsolicited approaches over the years but never felt the timing or the valuation was right. We asked EMC to approach the market formally earlier this year and, having obtained several excellent offers, decided that Baker Tilly was the right home for the business. They share our service culture and conduct their business in the same diligent way that has characterised ESL as a leader in the payroll industry.

“Baker Tilly already offers an existing payroll bureau service to some 3,000 clients and has significant growth plans. ESL will be a significant part of that development.”

Mark Holland, Business Services Partner for Baker Tilly, said: “Employer Services Limited is highly regarded within its sector and I am delighted to welcome them to the Baker Tilly group. This merger will allow us to expand our payroll service to the market while providing ESL with greater resource and new opportunities to enhance its current offering.

“The deal comes at an exciting time for the firm with our upcoming rebrand and name change to RSM later this month. Being a member of the RSM international network with 112 member firms across the world will provide both firms with a global platform with which to deliver the broad range of services our expanding international client base requires.”

Legal adviser to the vendors was Christopher Chidley of solicitors Dickens Hopgood & Chidley of Hungerford, Berkshire. Tax advice was from Alan Ross of Wilson & Partners in Reading.


ESL completion

Pictured after the completion documents had been signed are (from left): Colin Cleminson (ESL chairman), Jeanette Winch (ESL company secretary), Mark Holland (Baker Tilly), Stuart Hall (ESL CEO), Dave Buxton (Baker Tilly), EMC Director Desmond High and Christopher Chidley (Dickins Hopgood Chidley Solicitors).

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