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Sep 17, 2019

‘There’s always a point of sadness about selling your business’: Richard Davies discusses Equiniti’s acquisition of RD:IR

UK share registrar buys IR firm founded in 2002

Richard Davies launched his eponymous investor relations firm back in 2002. Over the following 17 years, Richard Davies Investor Relations, or RD:IR, grew to be one of the best-known IR firms in the UK, acting for more than 500 British issuers. 

During that time, Davies himself played a high-profile role in the investor relations community, chairing the UK’s IR Society for two years and joining a variety of other industry bodies. 

Last week, the firm started a new chapter when it was acquired by Equiniti, one of the UK’s three main share registrars. In recent years, Equiniti has bolstered its service offering and geographical footprint. The deal to buy RD:IR is the latest step in that strategy. 

Speaking to IR Magazine, Davies says joining up with Equiniti is a bit like coming full circle in his career. 

‘I started working in the IR market in 1988 when it wasn’t even really called investor relations in the UK,’ he explains. ‘And some of my first interactions with the capital markets were with Lloyds Registrars, which became Lloyds TSB Registrars, which then became Equiniti, so I’ve known the company for more than 30 years.’

In the statement announcing the deal, Equiniti stressed the value of RD:IR’s technology, which it said would provide a ‘proprietary platform’ for providing IR and corporate governance services to Equiniti’s clients. 

Discussing the deal from his perspective, Davies says he sees a number of benefits. He highlights access to greater technology resources, support for more international work and the value of working in partnership with other business lines.

As an example, he references Equiniti’s purchase last year of proxy solicitation firm Boudicca Proxy Consultants. ‘We believe there is much more to be made out of bringing what we do in the shareholder ID space into the world of governance and proxy solicitation,’ he says.

The deal will also give RD:IR a better shot at accessing the US market. Two years ago, Equniti moved into the US with the $227 mn acquisition of Wells Fargo’s shareholder registration arm. 

In addition, embracing a larger firm will remove some of the constraints faced by smaller businesses, notes Davies. ‘I could see the way the market was changing, with the requirements on us in terms of compliance and security. Life as a small business has become more challenging over the years,’ he says.

Following the deal, Davies and others from RD:IR will join the management team at Equiniti. How does it feel to give up control of the firm he founded 17 years ago?

‘There’s always a point of sadness about selling your business. I think every entrepreneur has that moment,’ says Davies. ‘But I also see the excitement and the possibilities of what we are going to do. And that feeling of excitement is greater than any feeling of loss.’