Scotland business

The Big Partnership in £11m management buyout

Neil Gibson and Alex Barr Image copyright Big Partnership
Image caption Neil Gibson (left) and Alex Barr co-founded The Big Partnership 15 years ago

A management buyout (MBO) has been launched at Scottish PR and digital media firm The Big Partnership, its founding directors have confirmed.

The £11m deal involves Neil Gibson and Alex Barr gradually transferring ownership of the business to their six fellow board members.

The arrangement was agreed on in 2014 and is due to conclude in 2020.

Mr Gibson and Mr Barr each own about 40% of the firm, after buying out co-founder Graham Isdale in 2005.

The MBO is part of a five-year growth plan announced by the company.

It is focusing on further digital investment and a "re-shaping of core PR services".

Mr Gibson and Mr Barr, who co-founded the business 15 years ago, have taken on strategic roles.

Mr Gibson is leading the continuing development of its PR offering, while Mr Barr is focusing on new business growth.

'Managed change'

Mr Barr said: "Over the next three to five years, Neil and I will undertake a managed change in our input to the business, which is still currently full-on, and will retain a small shareholding in the business."

Big's Aberdeen office head Zoe Ogilvie, who is a longstanding director and shareholder, said: "As a management team, we started discussions in 2013 and it quickly became clear that there was a pretty straightforward and consensual route which would see the senior management group undertake a phased MBO over the next few years.

"We actually concluded the deal in the summer of 2014 and we've ensured a smooth transition for our people and our clients.

"We're very happy with how seamlessly it's gone so far and the new structure is working well."

The other five board members at Big are: Allan Barr, head of digital; longstanding employees Bryan Garvie and Sharon Mars; head of the Edinburgh office Andrew Baird; and finance director Graham Leitch.

Eleven senior staff will also share in the proceeds of the buyout.

Big now employs 115 people in offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dunfermline and Liverpool.

The company achieved turnover of £8.3m for the year to May 2015.

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