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ASK4 prepares for exit

ASK4 provides high speed internet solutions and managed data services for multi-tenant accommodation. The business partners with universities, private-sector student accommodation providers, residential apartment developers and businesses, and currently serves over 160,000 customers across hundreds of sites in the UK and Europe.

The Project 

We initially did technology due diligence on ASK4 ahead of Darwin Private Equity’s investment in 2014. Four years later, we were brought back to ensure that ASK4’s technology operations were fit for purpose and ready for buyer scrutiny ahead of a planned sale process.

ASK4 is reliant on high-capacity communications networks and robust technology and IT systems to ensure the smooth running of the business. In order to achieve an optimal sale value and a smooth sale process, management wanted an independent and expert review of the company’s technology operations that highlighted any matters that needed to be addressed prior to sale.

How we Helped

ASK4 engaged us to carry out the exit readiness assessment in October 2017. Our findings highlighted the value drivers of the company’s technology operations, and we made several recommendations that could be acted upon before the sale. This allowed ASK4 to demonstrate to potential buyers that its technology environment was well managed and fit for purpose.

“Your team consistently brings the right skillset to the right business, which allows them to identify any issues quickly and work through them effectively,” says Derek Elliott, Managing Partner at Darwin Private Equity. “The exit readiness assessment gave us early confidence that the sale process was unlikely to run into any deal stoppers or red flags as a result of technology or IT-related matters.”

Our work included a cyber security assessment, which benchmarked ASK4’s overall cyber security maturity against the standards we would expect within the communications sector.

“The advent of the new GDPR legislation, coupled with the rise in DDoS attacks on websites, means that a cyber security assessment is a critical component of any buy side due diligence process, especially given the importance of technology and digitisation to almost all portfolio companies,” says Derek. “From a sell side point of view, we wanted to reassure the buyer that the systems and security processes in place at ASK4 were robust and fit for purpose, and that relevant precautions have been taken to protect against hackers.”

Results and Future Plans

In February 2018 Bowmark Capital acquired ASK4 from Darwin Private Equity. As a result of the investment ASK4 intends to continue its expansion in the UK and Europe, and to roll-out new products and services.

“We had fully committed to being exit ready and decided to engage you because technology underpins our business performance to such an extent,” says Derek. “By engaging you several months prior to sale we gave ourselves time to prepare for buyer scrutiny. Your advice contributed to a smooth and very fast sale process.”

“Your team were knowledgeable, approachable and rigorous, and developed a report that helped management and existing investors prepare appropriately for the exit process,” says Jonathan Burrows, CEO at ASK4. “We would not hesitate to use you in a similar role in the future.”

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