In 2009, two outsourcing powerhouses, Telereal and Trillium, came together to form the larger Telereal Trillium. The story of how the acquisition took place, and the resultant steps the newly-formed company took to capitalize on its revised market position, is an interesting look into the world of large-scale property transactions. It’s a story that is fascinating not only for its ramifications but also for the insight it gives into the chief executive who played a leading role in orchestrating the deal, Graham Edwards.
As the chief executive of Telereal, it was Graham Edwards who first reached out to the chief executive of Trillium, Ian Ellis. In recounting the story, Edwards says he called Ellis as soon as Telereal became aware that Trillium was coming to market. In fact, as we’ll see, the intertwined fate of these two companies predates the takeover itself, so it’s perhaps no surprise that he had Trillium on his radar.
One of the most striking examples of the shared history between the two companies is a 2001 strategic property outsourcing contract worth £2.38 billion. The contract, negotiated at a 30-year length, created Telereal as a joint venture between Trillium and Pears. The fact that Graham Edwards not only initiated the deal but was also named chief executive of the newly-formed Telereal, shows the role that he played from the very start of the relationship between these two companies.
The Two Companies Evolve
Graham would later build on this legacy of deal-making when the 2009 formation of Telereal Trillium took place. It was he himself who led the negotiations which resulted in the acquisition of Trillium from Land Securities Group Plc. In some ways, this acquisition was a natural extension of the deal that formed Telereal in the first place.
Once Telereal Trillium was established, the new company had a significant amount of leverage in the property market. It was then up to the new partnership between Edwards, as chief executive, and Ellis, who serves as a non-executive director, to determine what to do with their pooled resources.
One thing was clear from the start, with the formation of Telereal Trillium, there were ample assets on hand to achieve the new team’s goals. “When we talk about how much money is there to invest, it’s how long is a piece of string, but the equity pool we could have access to is in excess of £1 billion,” said Edwards after the merger (Crunchbase).
With access to such a large amount of equity, some executives may have opted to rush into a deal, perhaps to show the strength of the newly-created entity. But he was confident that prudence was the correct course of action. Though a deal within the first year of the partnership would have been satisfying, Graham knew it was not necessary. “The equity is there if the transaction fits, but it is not like a fund where we have the equity invested and have to spend it. If we don’t do a deal, we’ll be pleased too, because it will be the right thing to do,” he explained.
CEO Graham Edwards
This balanced approach to the businesses he undertakes has been a recurrent theme throughout his career. A graduate of King’s College London and the University of Cambridge, he has leveraged his education to take on positions at a number of high-profile organizations over the years. Prior to his role at Telereal, he was the chief investment officer of Talisman Global Asset Management. Before that, Edwards also held roles at both Merrill Lynch and the BT Group Plc’s property department (https://www.globalgracemissions.org/graham-edwards-telereal-trillium-ceo-and-business-expert/).
With Graham’s background drawing from various arms of the business world, the post-merger focus at Telereal Trillium wasn’t solely on larger deals to be contemplated. There was also the work of integrating the operations of the two companies. This task was made easier by the expertise both Telereal and Trillium already held in change management on behalf of tenants. When reflecting in 2009 about the work to be done on merging the new company, He seemed unfazed. “For BT last year we moved 15,000 staff around their property portfolio,” said Edwards.
In a demonstration of the high priority the deal placed on successfully merging the two companies, Telereal Trillium dedicated a team to focus solely on integration. Some examples of that integration included the expedited merger of the companies’ IT and finance departments, as well as the creation of a new senior management team comprised of members from both Telereal and Trillium. The new company also wanted to focus on keeping existing clients happy, a key factor in instilling confidence in their operations.
The Three Focuses
Of course, the team led by Graham Edwards also had their eyes set on the business opportunities within reach of Telereal Trillium. These opportunities fell into three focuses set by senior management. One focus was on long-term relationships with clients such as Royal Mail, BT, and the Department for Works and Pensions. A second focus was on facilities management contracts as well as a focus on property strategy. The third focus was on the exploration of pursuing large-scale capital transactions.
This third focus is an area in which both companies have extensive experience. An example of such a dealing is the 2007 transaction by Telereal with Prupim. That deal operated through a sale-and-leaseback transaction and resulted in the purchase of £750 million of property previously held by the Royal Bank of Scotland.
The acquisition of Trillium by Telereal was a notable transaction, not just in the world of property outsourcing, but the world of business at large. With the influence and leverage each company held individually, it was clear that together they would have significant abilities to conduct business transactions that would have far-reaching implications. That the newly-formed company pursued a prudent and organizationally-focused approach in the immediate aftermath of the deal speaks volumes about the leadership set by the company’s chief executive, Graham Edwards. Continuing to study Telereal Trillium in the time beyond its merger promises a continuing and interesting glance into a unique aspect of the world of large-scale property transactions.