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Barclays backs Chess acquisition strategy

Barclays continues to demonstrate its support for the channel with multimillion funding for serial acquirer Chess

The idea that credit and the channel are two 'C's that rarely mix has become an accepted shorthand to describe the state of finance in the sector.

Believing that channel firms will always be turned away by the banks is increasingly untrue and the examples of successful partnerships with credit providers are starting to stack up.

One of those high street banks that has courted the channel is Barclays, which started the new year back in 2013 declaring that it was open for reseller business.

The finance specialist has developed an IT and telecoms team for more than a decade and has been keen to use that expertise to support ambitious channel players.

One of those that has benefitted from its support is Chess Telecom, which has secured £50m in funding from Barclays to support its mergers and acquisitions strategy this year.

Chess is no stranger to acquisitions and has bolstered its Group with several deals last year alone. The majority of the activity was on the telco side with broadband fibre optic specialist Go4, PBX and business call player Tetcom, telephone system support expertise from Powercit and Millenium Talk, which covers a wide range of business comms services.

Those deals have added to the firm's run rate, which already stands at more than £85m turnover, and will add to the customer base that Chess is now able to offer an ever widening number of services to.

It has also made six or so deals over the previous few years, including IRW Systems, Parachute IT, ebillz, Integra ICT, Avenir’s mobile airtime division and The CRM Business.

The Barclays money will be used for M&A activity as well as funding a management incentive scheme through a share ownership plan.

Richard Faulkner, relationship director for technology, media and telecoms (TMT) at Barclays Corporate Banking, said that it understood the market and how it could work with a player like Chess.

"Our industry focus and thorough understanding of the telecoms sector has enabled us to structure a finance solution that fits well with Chess's acquisition strategy. I am confident the funding from Barclays will allow Chess continued growth and profitability and to maximise its potential," he said.

For those firms that are planning a sale in 2016 the message coming out of Chess is that is now has the funds and intends spending them on targets that add to its portfolio.

"The bank funding received from Barclays demonstrates the success of our strategy of acquiring small- to mid-sized telecom, ICT and digital businesses and sends a message to anyone in the industry looking to sell all or part of their business- Chess are buying in 2016," said Chess director Richard Btesh.

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I wonder if anyone thinks this will benefit the employees or anyone who's a bit further down the pipe...? Serial acquirers (and the banks that fund them) have a nasty history of "consolidating" work forces (i.e. thinning the herd) and putting profits far ahead of values.
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