Robert Osbourne becomes chief executive at consultant, where he aims to to triple profits in three years
Robert Osborne, former Amey director and Partnerships for Schools chief executive, has led the management buyout of multidisciplinary consultant Augmentis.
Osborne, now chief executive of Augmentis, said that he hoped to “double the turnover and triple the profits” of the company within three years. The annual fee turnover of Augmentis, which is focused on public sector projects, is currently £6m. Osborne has been working on the buyout with Augmentis director James Leng – a former colleague at Amey and Carillion – since mid-2004. Leng initially asked Osbourne to advise the company on the education market after he had left Partnerships for Schools, which runs the government’s programme to rebuild every secondary school in the country.
Osborne said that the idea to buy out joint managing directors Steve Darling and Les Hildebrandt had developed gradually. He said: “I spent some time with them talking about education, then it was strategic advice about
the company, and then it became clear that Augmentis just needed a little bit more energy to take it to the next level.”
We’re cheaper than the big consultants because we have fewer overheads
Osbourne, Augmentis chief executive
Leng is now chief operating officer, and Darling retains a small shareholding – although this will eventually be bought out and divested to staff. The remaining shares are held by Leng and Osborne, who funded the deal out of bank debt rather than using a venture capitalist.
Augmentis employs 50 fee earners. It also has a pool of about 50 self-employed workers that it can call upon when it has a heavy workload. The group primarily works in four areas: advice for contractors on PFI bids; PFI advice for public sector clients; dispute resolution; and dispute avoidance, which involves drawing up watertight commercial contracts. Osborne said: “We’re a lot cheaper than the big consultants because we have fewer overheads. This is a great company, but it has a long way to go. We’re practitioners turned advisers, rather than a bunch of MBAs learning on the job.”
The company is currently working for the Department of Health, helping to develop the procurement of independent sector treatment centres – small health schemes that specialise in areas such as hip and eye operations.