Bridges Ventures Sells The Office Group

It was announced today that Travelex founder Lloyd Dorfman has funded the Management Buyout of Bridges Ventures’ majority stake in serviced offices business The Office Group in a deal worth £43.3 million.

Commenting on the purchase, Lloyd Dorfman, Chairman of serviced office provider Esselco, said: “This deal brings together two successful businesses that are well placed to expand into what is a growing market. With interests in this sector already I was looking to diversify and it was evident that The Office Group had a very clear, differentiated proposition, an established customer base and a great vision for the future. It is also complementary to Esselco, pitched at a different part of the market, but with experience and learnings that can be exchanged.”

The Office, the concept for which was founded by Charlie Green and Olly Olsen with Bridges Ventures, is a specialist provider of flexible office space with a portfolio of six sites in central London and one in Bristol, totalling 1350 workstations. Dedicated to helping businesses succeed, The Office specialises in creating unique offices that are simple and considered in design. A strong regeneration and local community focus also ensures a sustainable and eco-friendly working environment. The business provides a supportive base for some 340 entrepreneurial and fast-growing, mainly small – medium sized, UK companies.

Philip Newborough, Chief Executive of Bridges Ventures, said of the sale:
“The Office has been a powerful investment for Bridges Ventures, proving the opportunity we see to build value through investing with our regeneration and environmental criteria. As The Office now enters its next phase of growth, with new investors to assist its expansion, I look forward to seeing its business continue to thrive alongside those of the entrepreneurs who occupy its facilities.”

In keeping with Bridges Ventures’ mission to create a positive social and environmental impact in all of its investments, all of The Office’s six freehold buildings and one leasehold building are in regeneration areas. Great emphasis is also placed on ensuring that the offices progressively minimise their environmental impact through the likes of rainwater harvesting, recycling programmes, wind turbines, solar panels, low energy lighting and wormeries being used across the estate.

The Office has an average occupancy rate of 95% and forecast revenues of £7.29 million and EBITDA of £4.5 million for the year to December 2010. Plans are in place to expand the business and an active search is under way for new sites in London. Moving forward, the two businesses will be run by The Office Group’s founders Olly Olsen and Charlie Green.

Olsen/Green, Co-Founders of The Office, added: “The Bridges Ventures team has shared our vision to create unique flexible office facilities that are all about location, service and considered design. Today’s deal marks the start of a new era. Joining forces with Lloyd Dorfman will allow us to take the business into new areas. The flexible office market has seen huge change and innovation in the last three years and we’re very focused on growing our share.”

Cavendish Corporate Finance LLP advised on the sale process.

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Media contacts:

Capital MS&L for Bridges Ventures Claire Maloney t: +44 (0)20 7307 5341 / +44 (0) 7770 958 479 e: bridgesventures@capitalmsl.com

For The Office or Lloyd Dorfman Nathan Kemp M&C Saatchi PR t: 0207 543 4670 / +44(0)7793 775 485 e: nathan.kemp@mcsaatchi.com   Notes to editors:

About Bridges Ventures Bridges Ventures is a sustainable growth investor established in 2002 with a mission to use its commercial expertise to achieve focused social or environmental benefit, as well as attractive returns for investors. Bridges Ventures has raised four funds to date: Venture Funds I & II, the Bridges Sustainable Property Fund and the Bridges Social Entrepreneurs Fund.

Venture Fund I totaled £40m while Venture Fund II totaled £75m, beating its original target of £50m by 50%, and was closed in 2007. Investors in the second fund include HSBC, Co-operative Financial Services, Barclays Business Banking, Lloyds TSB and Citigroup, and a number of individuals as well as pension funds and endowments including the Universities Superannuation Scheme, the West Midlands Pension Fund and All Souls College.

The Bridges Venture Funds invest in businesses based in UK regeneration areas as well as businesses delivering social and environmental impact in education/training, environment and health. Bridges Venture Funds typically invest up to £10m at a time in ambitious, entrepreneurial businesses including early stage, growth capital and buyouts / buy ins. So far, £70m has been invested in 34 companies, many of whose employees have come out of long-term unemployment. To date there have been five successful exits: Harlands in Hull, SimplySwitch in South London, HS Atec in Yorkshire, EB2 in South London and IDL in Bournemouth.

In 2009 Bridges Ventures launched the Bridges Sustainable Property Fund, which invests in properties in regeneration areas and environmentally sustainable buildings that have the potential to make strong financial returns as well as delivering social and environmental impacts.   In August 2009 the Bridges Ventures Charitable Trust launched the Bridges Social Entrepreneurs Fund a quasi-equity fund which provides an innovative financing solution that is tailored to the needs of ambitious social enterprises.

For more information please go to www.bridgesventures.com

About The Office Group Founded by Charlie Green and Olly Olsen in 2003, The Office Group provides high quality, affordable, flexible office space. Prior to setting up The Office, they had a combined experience of 25 years in the managed office industry. Charlie worked for a major Central London commercial developer specialising in offices, with Olly heading up the London sales division for a major serviced office provider, a far cry from the market stalls he ran at the age of 16. Their exposure to the conventional and serviced office market inspired them to create a new product that would stand out from the competition – simple, flexible and design led space for businesses of all sizes.

The Office provides flexible office space and meeting rooms that are strongly focused on location, service and considered design with an emphasis on environmental sustainability. The Office locations also provide access to a selection of essential virtual office spaces allowing small businesses to enjoy all the benefits of central fixed office location but without the cost commitment of a permanent office. The Office offers a long term property option, in contrast to the view that traditional serviced offices are temporary anonymous and just a stepping stone to a conventional lease. By providing the right combination of value and service, The Office aims to be an occupier’s first choice for flexible office space, both in strong and recessionary markets.

The Office acquired its first building in Islington in October 2003, following refurbishment it was opened for business in March 2004. This was followed by further building acquisitions in London; King’s Cross in 2004, Farringdon in 2005, Shoreditch in 2007, Farringdon Too and Marylebone in 2008; and Bristol in 2008. The Office currently provide office space for 340 entrepreneurial and fast-growing UK companies. It has an average occupancy rate of 95% and forecasts revenues of £7.29 million and EBITDA of £4.5 million for the year to December 2010. Plans are in place to expand the business and an active search is under way for new sites in London.

For further information please go to www.theofficegroup.com