Souter sells database search firm First Scottish

Brian Souter

Souter Investments said on Monday it completed the sale of Dalgety Bay-based First Scottish Group, a firm of professional database searchers, to “a significant international private investment group.”

First Scottish Group said on its own website it has been acquired by Eli Global, “a multinational corporation based in North Carolina, USA” which provides information and financial services through more than 115 businesses.

“The existing management team at First Scottish Group will continue to manage the business and provide the high level of service for which we are renowned,” said First Scottish Group.

“With Eli’s support we will continue to develop the class leading search services which have made us the No. 1 searching firm in Scotland.”

Souter Investments is the private family investment office of Stagecoach co-founder and chairman Brian Souter and the family office still retains a 14% investment in Stagecoach.

As well as searching the public registers, First Scottish has its own in-house databases and works closely with professional agencies including the Registers of Scotland, Ordnance Survey, The Coal Authority, Scottish Water and HM Land Registry.

“First Scottish provides fast, accurate searches and reports for solicitors, conveyancers, estate agents, financial institutions and local authorities,” said Souter Investments.

“The company has been acquired by a significant international private investment group with multinational interests across a variety of sectors, and specialism in health care, technology, insurance and financial services.

“The First Scottish management team, led by group managing director Ian Fraser, will remain with the company and the business will continue to trade under the First Scottish brand.”

Fraser said: “Having enjoyed a long period under Souter Investments’ ownership, during which First Scottish has gone from strength to strength, we are enthusiastic about our new relationship with our new owners, whose outlook and approach is very much aligned with our goals …

“We are committed to retaining the identity and culture of First Scottish, recognising the strength of the company’s reputation, our market leading offering, and the calibre of our team.

“So, it remains business as usual for First Scottish as we continue to focus on delivering exceptional service to our customers.”

The sale of First Scottish continues a busy period for Souter Investments following recent investments in DMC Canotec, one of Britain’s largest providers of managed print and document management services, Broadway Partners, a leading provider of broadband services in rural areas, and, the “EdTech” transport specialist.

John Berthinussen, investment director at Souter Investments, who steps down as chairman of First Scottish, said: “Ian and his team at First Scottish have built a strong, market leading business focussed on providing true value adding professional expertise and delivering exceptional customer service.

“With the support of Souter Investments, First Scottish has grown substantially, and the company is well positioned as it enters the next stage of its development under new long-term ownership.

“We wish Ian and his team every success in the future.”

Souter Investments said it has also recently completed the sales of its holdings in Baywater Healthcare UK and Endura, whilst portfolio company Ashtead Technology announced a joint venture with Forum Subsea Rentals, a subsidiary of Forum Energy Technologies, “creating the industry’s leading provider of subsea survey and remote operated vehicle (ROV) equipment rental and associated services.”

Souter Investments has invested more than £250 million in unquoted companies over the last eight years with about £200 million invested in its current private equity portfolio.

Its portfolio consists of more than 30 businesses varying in size and industry.

Souter Investments and exiting shareholders were advised by KPMG and Addleshaw Goddard, supported by CMS, Lindsays and Thomson Cooper.