Telereal’s 2009 acquisition of Trillium makes for an interesting look into the world of large-scale property outsourcing. When the £750 million deal took place, creating what is now know as Telereal Trillium, many saw it as a marriage between two extremely well-suited partners. Not only did reverberations of the takeover affect many areas of the world of large-scale property dealings, the partnership has also become tied to the legacies of its primary architects, the chief executives of the two companies. While former Trillium chief executive, Ian Ellis, played a critical role in the acquisition, it is Graham Edwards, who would become the chief executive of the newly formed company, who bears further exploration.
To fully understand Edwards’ role in the large acquisition, it is helpful to first delve into some of the details of the deal itself. Although the merger did not take place until 2009, the two companies have been tied together in a very real way for quite some time. In fact, Telereal came into existence as a joint venture between Trillium and William Pears Group in 2001.
The Pivotal Role
The fact that Graham played a pivotal role in the 2001 formation of Telereal could be seen as foreshadowing the 2009 acquisition. The 2001 deal may even have kept the possibility of a future merger in Edwards’ head. When the opportunity for the merger presented itself, it was Edwards who made the first move. According to him, “When we became aware that Trillium was about to be brought to market officially, I was immediately on the phone to Ian saying: “We’re interested.”’ From there, he played an integral part in ensuring the merger of the two companies took place. He even led the negotiations which would eventually result in the acquisition.
But the connection between the two companies goes far beyond Telereal’s beginnings. The two teams have a shared history of mutual achievement. Graham Edwards and Ellis personally worked together at Telereal for five years. At the time of the acquisition, as fate would have it, the two companies were headquartered in the very same building, being based on different floors of 140 London Wall in London. This closeness, both in company culture and physical proximity, goes far in explaining why Ellis and Edwards kept an eye on a possible merger between their two companies.
Of course, Graham didn’t orchestrate the takeover of Trillium without relying on a wealth of prior experience. The Telereal chief executive has a history of high-level achievement in the asset management space that helped inform his efforts. Before his time with Telereal, he served as the chief investment officer of Talisman Global Asset Management. There, he established the company as the Pears FSA registered asset management arm. Today, due in part to his actions, Talisman has assets under management that top £1 billion. Edwards’ history before joining Talisman includes positions as a Merrill Lynch fund manager as well as a stint as the head of finance for the BT Group Plc’s property department.
After the Merger
After the deal that brought Telereal and Trillium together was finalized, the newly created company got to work on an action plan designed to best utilize the firm’s newly-joined assets and influence. That action plan centered around three priority that the team felt could best serve their collective goals for the newly-joined venture.
Top Priorities for the New Telereal Trillium
Priority number one for the company post-merger was to focus on long-term relationships with some of its largest clients (PropertyWeek). These included clients such as BT, Royal Mail, and the Department for Work and Pensions. This long-term focus also included the management of clients’ portfolios through property partnerships that were designed to last ten years or more.
A second priority for the new company was a commitment to working on facilities management contracts as well as property strategy. A prime example of this type of work was the ongoing relationship Telereal maintained with the Birmingham City Council. This work was centered around optimizing the council’s estate.
The third priority for the company was to explore capital transactions that existed on a large scale. To guide these transactions, the company looked in part to the past actions of the two companies from which it was created. A deal of particular interest for the strategy was Telereal’s 2007 transaction with Prupim. At that time, they negotiated the purchase of £750 million of RBS’s property using a sale-and-leaseback transaction.
According to Graham Edwards, immediately after the merger, the newly-formed company was able to benefit from a lack of urgency in making a purchase. There was a certain amount of incentive to cementing a deal after a takeover, but it wasn’t considered 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 said.
It’s this type of prudent yet forward-thinking strategizing that has ultimately made the creation of Telereal Trillium by way of the 2009 merger such an informative topic of reflection. It’s easy for the acquisition of two large players in an industry to be followed by splashy and extravagant corporate maneuvering. But in the aftermath of the merger, Telereal Trillium has conducted its business dealings with an eye towards the effective leverage and use of assets that has typified his career.
In the years since 2009, the merger has proved to be a success in many ways for Telereal Trillium. With a string of flourishing partnerships and transactions in the past eight years, the company continues to build on the legacy of intelligent investment and management that was the impetus for the joining of the two companies in the first place. Under the stewardship of Graham Edwards, Telereal Trillium looks to the future with those same savvy business strategies in mind. As one of the major players in the large-scale property services world, this type of competent leadership is essential to the continued success of the business.
More about Graham Edwards and Telereal Trillium at https://www.crunchbase.com/person/graham-edwards-a3ed