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Exponent Private Equity (“Exponent”) today announces that it has reached an agreement to sell V.Group to OMERS Private Equity for an enterprise value of US$520 million.

Founded in 1984 as V.Ships, V.Group is the leading global provider of independent ship management and marine manpower services, as well as providing an extensive range of value-added marine services. V.Group has a managed fleet of more than 700 vessels and provides services to over 1,000 vessels. V.Group operates across 34 countries around the world and employs 1,800 shore-based staff across an international network of 70 offices. The business has grown significantly in recent years despite a challenging macro-economic and shipping market environment. V.Group operates through six integrated business divisions: Ship Management, Manpower, Leisure, Marine Services, Ship Supply Chain and Capital. Its portfolio of highly regarded brands includes V.Ships, Marlins, SeaTec, UMC, RC Consultants, ITM and BGI.

Exponent acquired V.Group in 2007 and has since worked with the senior management team, including David Hoare, Chairman, and Clive Richardson, CEO, to grow and develop the business. Commenting on the investment, Tom Sweet-Escott, co-founder of Exponent, said: “We identified ship management and marine services as a growth sector in 2007 and so were delighted when the opportunity came along to partner with the industry leader. V.Group is a first class business, and it has been a pleasure to work with the management team to drive profitable growth during our period of ownership. I am confident that V.Group will continue on its trajectory of outperforming the sector alongside its new shareholder.”

Clive Richardson, CEO of V.Group, said: “V.Group rightly enjoys a very strong reputation in the market, based on its exceptional customer service, cost competitiveness and high standards of governance. We have enjoyed continued support and great success during our partnership with Exponent. We are looking forward to working with OMERS Private Equity to continue V.Group's growth over the coming years. This is a fantastic deal for V.Group's employees and customers and recognises the long-term potential for the business.”

V.Group was advised by Lazard & Co., Limited. Exponent was advised by Allen & Overy LLP. V.Group management was advised by Travers Smith LLP.

Exponent is currently investing its 2008 fund, Exponent Private Equity Partners II, LP. Transactions this year have included the meat-free business of Premier Foods, which manufactures and sells Quorn, and Pattonair, the supply chain division of Umeco plc.