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RIBA sells £31.8m stake in its commercial arm to Lloyds Bank

Old Post Office - RIBA Enterprises' HQ in Newcastle

The RIBA has announced it is selling a £31.8 million stake in its commercial arm, RIBA Enterprises, to LDC, the private equity arm of Lloyds Bank

According to the institute, the multimillion-pound partnership with LDC will ‘support the future growth’ of RIBA Enterprises.

RIBA Enterprises, which trades as NBS, provides technology, content and data services to professionals in the built environment and last year recorded a turnover of £20.5 million.

The new partnership, for which RIBA took financial advice from KPMG and Womble Bond Dickinson last year, will see the banking group take a ‘significant minority’ share in the company. 

The AJ reported earlier this month that the future of RIBA Enterprises was being considered by the RIBA Board in early 2017, when it set up a working group to explore investment options for the commercial arm

RIBA chief executive Alan Vallance said that the RIBA had chosen to partner with LDC because of its ‘extensive pedigree’ in the technology sector. LDC describes itself as the UK’s leading mid-market private equity investor. 

Vallance said: ’The RIBA is pleased to have secured a fantastic deal on behalf of our members. It is recognition of the success of our commercial activities to date, and the international strength of the brand and products our team has developed.’

RIBA president Ben Derbyshire said the deal was an ‘exciting moment’ for the RIBA and that the investment would provide ‘the injection needed to move NBS to the next level’.

He added: ‘We have created a highly attractive market-leading business, and as an institute prioritising support for our members and the delivery of our wider charitable objectives, the trustees agreed it is the right time to work in partnership with an experienced investor to ramp up its potential.’

The institute’s cash reserves have dwindled over the last few years, with the departure of a number of senior staff in 2015 and 2016 – including former chief executive Harry Rich – costing the RIBA upwards of £750,000 in severance payments, interim wages and other recruitment fees.

The RIBA confirmed that its other services, including the RIBA Journal, would continue to be wholly owned by the organisation.


Readers' comments (3)

  • Phil Parker

    Flogging off the family silver to pay for misdemeanors from the past. One wonders if this shouldn't have gone to a membership vote. The business (RIBA Enterprises) could have been run differently and the RIBA itself should not have put itself in the position where it can not get rid of a very senior executive without a large pay-off, pension contributions and a lawyer's fees.

    I do not have confidence (never had) in how the RIBA manages itself.

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  • I wonder if the costly senior executives were hired on the advice of outside experts?

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  • I am really not very happy about our professional body selling off its assets to banks. Were the membership consulted before this deal was made? I am also interested to know if any other parts of the RIBA have been sold to private companies? It would be fantastic if an inquisitive journalist could make the relevant enquiries and report back.

    The RIBA exists to support architects, design, and the role of architects in society. I fail to see how they can do that effectively and independently if tranches of the organisation are owned by private finance?

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