While the deal is being presented as a merger, the new company is fronted by Fastflow chairman and chief executive Neil Armstrong, while United Living chief executive Ian Burnett and chief operating officer director Stuart Laird are retiring from the board.
Fastflow Group is controlled by Elysian Capital. United Living was approximately 90% owned by Lloyds Development Capital (LDC). LDC has now exited through this transaction, with Elysian and Fastflow taking over. Members of the management team also own some of the shares.
As with previous Fastflow acquisitions, the purchase price has not been disclosed.
Fastflow generated revenue of £137m in the year to March 2019 and employs more than 600 people providing technical and maintenance services to the utilities and property sectors.
In the same year United Living turned over £275m from new build housing and building maintenance services and directly employs 540 people.
The enlarged group will retain the existing contracting companies under their separate brands.
Neil Armstrong said: “The reasons for combining these two great businesses are simple and compelling. The enlarged maintenance and new housing capability will benefit clients and our people, safeguarding jobs and providing more opportunities to progress within the group.
“At United Living, we see people with a shared ethic and common purpose, who are already delivering a best in class service. People who, like us, take their responsibilities to customers, residents, employees, the environment and communities in which they work very seriously.
“By harnessing this commitment and talent and by working together, investing time and money to drive improvement, we will take the business to the next level.”
Fastflow, originally a northeast pipeline specialist, first moved into building maintenance with the takeover of Oxford property maintenance and refurbishment business DW Contractors in 2014. Last year it acquired acquired affordable housing developer Partner Group. In neither case was the purchase price disclosed. However, acquisitions have been central to Fastflow's growth strategy; its turnover in 2014 was just £25m, since when it has grown more than fivefold.
In the video below, Neil Armstrong talks up the deal.