Hut Group hits £2.5bn valuation with £125m Old Mutual investment

(c) Sky News 2017: <a href="http://news.sky.com/story/hut-group-hits-16325bn-valuation-with-163125m-old-mutual-investment-10984629">Hut Group hits £2.5bn valuation with £125m Old Mutual investment</a>
 

One of Britain's fastest-growing technology start-ups has secured a new round of funding valuing it at £2.5bn - cementing its status among the country's biggest privately owned companies.

Sky News has learnt that The Hut Group, a health and beauty retailer behind brands‎ such as Grow Gorgeous and Myprotein, has signed a deal to sell a £125m stake to Old Mutual Global Investors (OMGI), the asset management giant.

Insiders said the stake sale - which would be OMGI's first such equity investment‎ in a private company - would be announced next week.

The deal will catapult The Hut Group further up the rankings of Britain's biggest home-grown companies, and will come just two years after a previous fundraising ‎valued the company at just under £1bn.

Headquartered in Cheshire, The Hut Group was set up in 2004 by Matthew Moulding and John Gallemore.

It now employs more than 3,000 people and has said that it expects that figure to double by 2019.

Sources said that The Hut Group, which Mr Moulding runs as chief executive, was on track to record sales this year of up to £750m - a 50% increase on 2016's figure.

In addition to its rapid organic growth, The Hut Group has embarked on an ambitious acquisition spree, snapping up consumer brands and technology providers aimed at accelerating its international expansion.

The company owns a large portfolio of brands, including the Exante Diet, a "meal replacement" company, and Lookfantastic.com, which sells premium beauty products from manufacturers such as Benefit and Ester Lauder.

The Hut Group is on track to invest around £400m this year in a combination of technology projects and beauty brands, following £250m of investment last year.

Existing shareholders in The Hut Group include Blackrock (Sao Paolo: BLAK34.SA - news) , the world's biggest asset manager, ‎the private equity giant KKR and Sofina, a Belgian investor.

Sofina is also understood to be injecting fresh capital to maintain its stake in the latest funding round.

Sources said the £2.5bn valuation figure was unlikely to be confirmed publicly by The Hut Group, but sources close to the deal confirmed it this weekend.

The investment by OMGI is understood to have been brokered by Zeus Capital, the investment bank.

It ‎will come as Old Mutual (Other OTC: ODMUF - news) , the FTSE-100 financial services group, pursues a four-way break-up.

OMGI is part of Old Mutual Wealth, a business which has been earmarked for a separate stock market listing by the Anglo-South African group's board.

The funds arm, which has roughly £29bn under management, is headed by Richard Buxton, the star fund manager, who reports to Paul Feeney, Old Mutual Wealth's chief executive.

The Hut Group declined to comment this weekend, while OMGI could not be reached for comment.

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