InsightsNewsletterRenatus’ Private Equity M&A Newsletter – 23/06/2024

Renatus’ Private Equity M&A Newsletter – 23/06/2024

Thought for the Week

The AI Revolution: Bubble or Breakthrough?

The debate surrounding Artificial Intelligence captivates us. Are the AI-driven stocks fuelling the current market surge akin to the .com bubble, or do they represent a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to invest in transformative companies, much like Ford during the advent of the automobile?

Encouragingly, the market appears somewhat discerning, particularly with non-Nvidia stocks, as highlighted in a recent Financial Times article. The article noted that more than half of the stocks in Citi’s “AI Winners Basket”— a collection of companies exciting the bank’s clients — have declined, even though c. 60% of stocks in the S&P 500 have risen this year.

Our perspective on AI can be summed up by our homemade analogy: the tractor replaced the horse but did not replace the farmer. AI is set to revolutionise many practices, but the pace and full impact remain uncertain. Predicting its effect on stocks and global indices is for smarter folks than us to call.

Our Portfolio Companies Are Hiring

WH Scott Group is recruiting a Chief Financial Officer. WH Scott Group is a market leader in the UK & Ireland in the design, fabrication, supply, inspection and maintenance of equipment used in regulated, highly technical lifting and industrial markets. It is undergoing a period of rapid expansion both organically and through acquisition. This role will involve managing financial performance, leading value-add initiatives as well as executing and integrating acquisition opportunities. 

Irish Rollforming is recruiting a Finance Director. Irish Rollforming was first established in 2010 by Liam O’Sullivan as a single sheet cladding manufacturer and is evolving to become a leader in the production of highly accredited insulated panelling. The Finance Director will drive reporting, analysis and strategic alignment as the company embarks on a stage of high growth.

If you know anyone who might be interested in the roles outlined above, please email Recruitment@renatus.ie ovisit our website at: https://go.renatus.ie/e/512701/2024-05-26/7frdws/1515406058/h/yBsyZr8Lt1lSOPgmuGd5C1_DzeGjRL_MUFFP8oToYP8careers/. Alternatively, feel free to reach out directly to any Renatus team member.  

The Real Deal 2024 Highlights

For those of you who may have missed The Real Deal, or simply want to recap on the day, we have highlighted some insights shared by our distinguished guest speakers, composed of prominent Irish business leaders and entrepreneurs. 

The conference commenced with the highly anticipated “Deal Of The Year” interview featuring keynote speaker Niall Molloy, CEO of Echelon Data Centres. Dive into the full interview below where Niall spoke about his early career, property development, the next wave of Irish investment, data centres, AI, and more. View Niall Molloy’s Interview    

You can also explore the wealth of knowledge shared by all our panellists throughout the day, now accessible to view below: The Real Deal 2024 Video Library

M&A Activity

Creagh Concrete acquires Norman Emerson Group (NEG)

Deal Details: Creagh Concrete has acquired Norman Emerson Group (NEG). The deal consideration was not disclosed.

Creagh Concrete is an Antrim-headquartered producer of concrete products in Ireland & the UK. The company, founded in 1974, is majority-owned by Gerard and Seamus McKeague. In FY Sep’23 the company reported a turnover of c. £116.0m which converted to an EBITDA of c. £9.0m.

Norman Emerson Group is an Armagh-based ready mix, sand and natural stone products company. Established in 1945, the company is led by managing director George Emerson. In FY Dec’22 the company reported a turnover of c. £8.3m which converted to an EBITDA of c. £162k.

Advisers:
Creagh Concrete:
Legal: Tughans led by John McGuckian, Brendan Donnelly, Fearghal O’Loan and James Mulligan.

Norman Emerson Group:
Legal: Thompson Mitchell Solicitors led by Peter Thompson.

Renatus Comment: According to a CITB report, the construction outlook in Northern Ireland is positive, with residential output forecasted to grow by 2.1% from 2023 to 2027, marginally behind commercial and infrastructure growth which is expected to have the largest growth in output in Northern Ireland in that period.

Earlier this year, RTU Limited, a Northern Irish supplier of concrete, tub mortar, plaster, and screed for commercial markets, acquired Colinwell Masonry Products Limited, which is another similar acquisition in this space.

Source: The Irish News

Translit acquired by Valorem Group

Deal Details: Translit will join the UK-based Valorem Group and subsequently merge its operations with another consortium member, DA Languages. The deal consideration was not reported.

Translit is a Limerick-based translation and interpreting company. The business was founded by Alex Chernenko in 2009 who will remain in his role as CEO post-acquisition. The company does not report turnover or EBITDA information.

DA Languages is a Manchester-based provider of interpretation services with over 450 languages and dialects serving private and public customers. The company was acquired by IK Partners from Foresight Group in December 2021. In FY Jun’23 the company reported a turnover of c. £34.6m with an EBITDA of c. £6.2m.

Advisers: None mentioned.

Renatus Comment: Technological advancements, particularly in machine translation, machine learning, and artificial intelligence (AI), are significantly shaping this market’s future. It would be no surprise to see this market experiencing significant consolidation in the future as those who adapt best to the changing landscape increase their share of the market, both organically and through acquisition.

Source: RTE

Ormonde Organics acquired by Heygaz Biomethane

Deal Details: Ormonde Organics has been acquired by Heygaz Biomethane. The deal value was not reported. The deal is also subject to regulatory clearance.

Ormonde Organics is a Waterford-based biomethane business with two anaerobic digestion plants in Waterford and Cork. The company is led by Martin Morrissey who is also a shareholder in the business. Both Morrissey and the existing management team will remain with the business post-acquisition. The company does not report turnover or EBITDA information.

Infravia Capital Partners incorporated Heygaz Biomethane, a Pan-European renewable natural gas platform. Based in Spain, the company currently manages five biomethane plants in four countries in Europe. The company does not report turnover or EBITDA information.

Advisers:
Ormonde Organics:
Corporate Finance: Deloitte led by Jan Fitzell, Richard Dennehy, Julie Worthington, Patrick Keane, Rory Duggan, and Sarah Mullaney.
Legal: Beauchamps led by Shaun O’Shea, Stuart Conaty, Damian Maloney, John Gaffney, Orla Donohoe, Maitiú O’Donaill, Rachel Leavy, John White and Ainsley Heffernan.

Heygaz Biomethane:
Financial Due Diligence: Mazars led by Mark Mulcahy.
Tax: Mazars.
Legal: Philip Lee led by Bernard McEvoy and Olivia Creaven.

Renatus Comment: Biomethane strategies involve converting organic materials like manure, food waste, and grass silage into biogas, which is typically comprised of 60% methane and 40% CO2.  While biomethane production has been implemented at significant scales across Europe, its development in Ireland is still in its infancy. Currently, there are only two operational biomethane facilities in the South. The Irish government aims to produce 5.7TWh of biomethane by 2030, a significant increase from 41 GWh in 2022. More grid connections and state support will likely be required to meet this target. Anecdotally, we also hear there is still technology risk with the digesters, but technical advances should help this sector in the coming years.

Source: Irish Examiner

Blackberry Hearing has received investment from Abbey International Finance

Deal Details: Blackberry Hearing has received investment from Abbey International Finance. The deal value was not reported.

Blackberry Hearing is a Kildare-based audiology specialist offering hearing aid products and services. The company is owned by John Ryan and David Gleeson. The next phase of growth will be led by the existing management team, current Analytics & Insights Director, Like Higgins and General Manager Matt Gleeson. The business does not report turnover or EBITDA information.

Abbey International Finance is an investment firm based in Dublin also offering leasing and insurance solutions to a range of sectors.

Advisers:
Blackberry Hearing:
Legal: Flynn O’Driscoll led by Gavin Lawlor, Emma Kennelly, Kate Duffy, Laura Myles, Gemma Casey and Andrea Crowley.
Financial: Hourigan Rowsome led by John Hourigan, Cara Higgins and Georgian Toderas.

Abbey International Finance:
​​Legal: LK Shields led by Emmet Scully, Lester Sosa-Villatoro and Jonathan Braden.
Financial Due Diligence: Azets led by Jack Swinburne, Cynthia Cao and Calum Hill.
Tax: Azets led by Kevin Quinn, Ornagh Morrissey and James Earle.

Renatus Comment: According to BIHIMA, The British Irish Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association, the market size for hearing instruments in Ireland was 24,300 units in Q4 2023. The market has experienced steady growth, with the market size growing by 5.8% between Q4 2021 and Q4 2022 and by 5.7% between Q4 2022 and Q4 2023. This should leave all competitors well-placed to grow.

Source: Azets Press Release

Visual ID acquired by Startle

Deal Details: Visual ID has been acquired by Startle. The deal consideration was not disclosed.

Visual ID, is a Dublin-headquartered in-store marketing company that was established in 2008. Its products are reportedly used daily by more than 3,000 businesses throughout Ireland and beyond.  The company is owned by Dave McDonnell, Pier Kuipers and Julie Condren. The company does not report turnover or EBITDA information.

Startle is a London-headquartered company that specialises in creating customer experiences with music for retail and hospitality brands. The company is led by chief executive Adam Castleton and operates from its London and New York offices. The company does not report turnover or EBITDA information.

Advisers: None Mentioned

Renatus Comment: This acquisition marks Startle’s first entry into the Irish market and underscores the company’s commitment to expanding its audio-visual solutions across new sectors, including the grocery industry. The acquisition will bring grocery brands such as SPAR and Londis into Startle’s portfolio of customers.

Source: Insider Media

ASM Chartered Accountants’ Belfast office acquired by Sumer Group

Deal Details: ASM Chartered Accountants’ Belfast office has been acquired by Sumer Group. The deal will not impact ASM’s other offices, with the Belfast office becoming Sumer Northern Ireland as part of the move. The deal consideration was not reported.

ASM Chartered Accountants is one of the largest accountancy practices in Northern Ireland. The business was founded by Michael McAllister. Brian Clerkin, the company’s managing director, will be joining the Sumer Group as Sumer Northern Ireland along with 10 directors and over 100 staff. The company does not report turnover or EBITDA information.

Sumer Group is a mid-market accountancy practice based in the UK. The company is led by Warren Mead.

Advisers:
ASM Chartered Accountants: 
Legal: A&L Goodbody

Sumer Group:
Legal: Dickson Minto and Tughans

Renatus Comment: Consolidation in the professional services market is ongoing due to its highly fragmented nature. This marks Sumer’s first acquisition in Northern Ireland. Notably, the region has experienced growth, with the number of new startup businesses increasing for the ninth consecutive year in 2023, bringing the total number of businesses operating in Northern Ireland to c. 79k. Many of these companies depend on accounting services for their financial requirements and assistance, alongside the increasing demands of well-established businesses.

Source: The Irish News

Hayden’s McDonald’s franchise has been sold to another operator

Deal Details: McDonald’s is an American multinational fast food chain. Since 1977 McDonald’s has been present in Dublin with many restaurants spread throughout the city.

Gerry Hayden (63) operated five restaurants in Dublin, reported to make c. €20m of revenue during 2022. Details of the buyer have not been disclosed.

Advisers: None Mentioned.

Renatus Comment: There are over 100 McDonald’s restaurants across the island of Ireland, all operated by franchisees. McDonald’s is not just a famous fast food chain; it is also a real estate company, owning or leasing the land and buildings for each franchised location. It is an unusual situation compared to other company owners whereby anybody selling or retiring must sell to a fellow franchisee if possible.

The chain is a significant driver for Ireland’s agri-food sector. In 2019, McDonald’s purchased 40,000 tonnes of Irish beef, with 18,000 farmers supplying the meat. As of 2020, Irish beef farmers provided 20% of the meat for all burgers sold in Europe.

Source: Irish Independent

Deal Updates & Other News

Majority stake in Press Up hospitality group ‘to be taken by London equity firm’

Deal Details: As reported by the Business Post, Cheyne Capital, a London-based alternative investment manager, is poised to acquire a majority equity stake in Press Up. Despite the impending change in ownership, Press Up’s executive team will retain leadership of the day-to-day operations. This development marks a significant new chapter for the renowned hospitality group, recognised for popular venues across Ireland including Wowburger, Elephant & Castle, The Workman’s Club, Dime Coffee, Stella Cinema, and Wagamama, among others.

Source: Business Post

Company Performance

EBITDA  is an accounting term and is often the best indicator of profitability in non-capital intensive businesses before financing and tax are considered. In capital-intensive businesses EBIT or EBITDA less average Capital Expenditure are often better measures. YoY is an acronym for the year-on-year movement in turnover, EBITDA, etc.

Flynn Managers & Contractors Ltd (t/a Flynn) is an international Construction Business executing projects across the Island of Ireland, the UK and mainland Europe. The company operates across the critical environments, general construction and fit-out sectors. The company was established in 2004 and is wholly owned by Michael and Kevin Flynn.

In its financial year to December 2023, the business generated a turnover of c. €140.2m, an increase of c. 6% year-on-year. This converted to an EBITDA of c. €8.0m, an increase of c. 38.3%. The increase in EBITDA was driven by revenue growth and gross margin improvements.

The business finished the year with a cash balance of c. €20.7m, a c. €716k decrease on FY Dec’22. Significant post-EBITDA cash movements included investment in working capital and dividends paid.

The business employed an average of 170 people over the period at a total cost of c. €18.0m.

Fundraisings

Who: Avolon, a Dublin-based aircraft lessor.

What: The business raised €699m in debt through a new credit facility composed of a syndicate of seven banks in the Middle East and India.

Why: The funds will be used to support the growth trajectory of the business alongside diversifying the business’ capital pool.

Source: Irish Times

Who: Irish Institute of Music and Song (IIMS), a provider of musical education and experiences to private and enterprise consumers.

What: The company has raised €4m in funding led by Belfast Commercial Funding, a non-bank lender.

Why: The funding will be used to complete the construction of its new campus based in Balbriggan, Dublin.

Source: Business Plus

Who: Office of Public Works (OPW), an Irish government agency managing most of the State’s property.

What: The agency has received €11.2m through Fáilte Ireland’s Regenerative Tourism and Placemaking Scheme, funded by the EU and Irish Government.

Why: The funds will be used to develop the following four sites; Clonmacnoise, Corlea Trackway, Emo Court and Roscrea Castle.

Source: Business Plus

Who: Lynq, an AI-driven workspace management start-up founded by Paul Sheridan and Fred Brown.

What: The company has received $2m in pre-seed funding led by Nebular and Pebblebed.

Why: The investment will be used to grow the business having just launched a beta version of the platform.

Source: Business Post

Who: Digital Iron, a Belfast-based company that has designed a platform that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to help dealers quickly diagnose problems with heavy machinery.

What: The company has raised $2m. Investors include Seedcamp, Concept Ventures, RTP Global and FJ Labs.

Why: The investment will be used to help drive expansion.

Source: Business Post

Executive and Board Appointments

Ellie Walshe

Source:
(Google Images & LinkedIn)

James Whitebread

Source:
(Google Images & LinkedIn)

@RenatusCapital Tweets

13%

The price cut percentage announced by ESB for its electric vehicle network chargers, according to @IrishTimes

42%

The difference in prices paid by Irish consumers vs the EU average, making it the second highest in the EU last year, according to @Eurostat

10%

This is how much more expensive houses are than they were at the peak of the property boom back in April 2007, according to @CSO

14.7%

The increase in savings rate among households between January and March, according to @CSO

About Renatus

Renatus was established in 2014 to provide growth funding to growing Irish SMEs and to partner with ambitious management teams to help companies reach their full potential.

Renatus targets companies with sustainable earnings of €1m+ and valuations typically in the range of €5m – €20m. Our typical solutions include:

  • Succession planning
  • Management buyouts
  • Management buy-ins
  • Growth financing – both organic and acquisition growth financing
  • Full and partial share sale

Our Family of Investments

Current Portfolio:

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