William Blair and BDA Advise Wilson Associates

Thursday, March 20, 2014

William Blair & Company and its Asian affiliate, Business Development Asia LLC (BDA)1,are pleased to announce that their client, Wilson Associates, jointly owned by Lineage Capital, LLC and founder, Trisha Wilson, has been acquired by East China Architectural Design & Research Institute (ECADI). The transaction closed on February 28, 2014.  The sale of Wilson Associates represents William Blair's first sale of a U.S.-based client to a wholly state-owned enterprise (SOE) in China.

Transaction Highlights

  • Deep relationships and sector expertise: Lineage Capital and Wilson Associates’ management teams were attracted to William Blair’s deep sector knowledge, recent transaction experience in the professional services industry, and ability to identify and effectively engage with strategic and financial acquirers worldwide. By drawing on its extensive knowledge of professional services, specifically within an architecture and design context, and through BDA’s extensive knowledge and buyer relationships in Asia, William Blair was able to successfully clear the market globally, marketing this unique investment opportunity to buyers in more than 34 different countries. 

  • Execution excellence: The William Blair/BDA transaction team successfully navigated a global buyer universe to drive a competitive process and achieve a highly attractive outcome, including overcoming complexities and challenges such as a CEO transition during the process and an intricate regulatory approval process for Chinese SOEs.  ECADI acquired Wilson using a newly-incorporated entity in the recently established Shanghai Free Trade Zone. This innovative deal structure greatly facilitated the transaction process in terms of Chinese regulatory requirements.

  • Building a world-class leader in architecture and design:  William Blair effectively guided management and buyer representatives toward a mutually beneficial understanding of the strategic fit and ultimate value of the combination of two recognized global leaders. Leveraging ECADI’s preeminent market position in Asia and Wilson’s worldwide brand recognition in luxury hospitality, the partnership will create a dominant new force in the architectural design industry.

About the Companies:

Specializing in interior architectural design, Wilson Associates was founded in 1971 and today employs 400 professionals located across eight international offices. The firm creates interiors for world-class hotels, resorts, restaurants, casinos, and high-end residential properties, offering a full range of design services.

Based in Shanghai, ECADI has been one of the largest and most influential architectural and engineering design firms in China, affiliated with Shanghai Xian Dai Architectural Design (Group) Co., Ltd. ECADI has more than 15 professional subsidiary companies, providing a full-spectrum of services including architectural, water conservation, municipal, and urban planning, as well as one-stop engineering services.

Lineage Capital is a Boston-based private investment firm with an exclusive focus on owner-managed and family-controlled businesses. Their unique partnership model enables owners to realize substantial liquidity at closing yet retain board control and a meaningful investment in their companies. Lineage Capital seeks to partner with owner-managers who value the support of an experienced investor in pursuing a successful growth strategy for their businesses.

1 William Blair owns a minority stake in BDA.

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