Renatus Weekly M&A & Company Performance Private Equity Newsletter 05/11/2023
Please find below this week’s newsletter covering the latest M&A, company performance, fundraisings and executive moves.
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
Both the ECB and US Federal Reserve have declined to implement further interest rate hikes in their most recent respective updates. This follows months of aggressive monetary policy in the ongoing attempt to curb stubborn inflation. Last week, we read a mail from our friends in Kestrel Capital, analysing the observed lag between interest rate hikes and the dampening of economic activity. They looked at similar runs of consecutive rate hikes throughout history, and concluded that since 1950, 78% of rate hiking cycles have resulted in a recession. While on the surface this doesn’t appear to bode well for global economies, they suggested three reasons why the result might be different this time:
Consumers currently have a historically high rate of savings. Spending was highly restricted during the Covid years and stimulus cheques have left many consumers with money in their pockets.
Both consumer and corporate borrowers are locked in at lower rates.
Only c. 15% of US homeowners have floating rate mortgages. The current US mortgage rate is c. 7.8% but was only c. 2.9% as recently as Feb-20.
C. 75% of the S&P 500 has long-term fixed debt. While there is a wall of maturities looming in the coming years, this applies more to small-cap firms than the largest ones.
Fiscal stimulus to support the global economy has been at unprecedented levels. Governments continue to inject major capital to support their economies. Ireland’s recent budget included a €14.4bn spending package, even as the government consistently emphasised its commitment to not over-spending.
One takeaway from the above would be that while there remains much uncertainty in the global economy, there are reasons to be optimistic. Ireland has a luxury that few other States enjoy. With major budget surpluses forecast to continue for several years at least, it will have the fiscal flexibility to support the economy if needed. Whether that is enough to avoid recession or if it simply further fuels inflation, remains to be seen.
RENATUS IS HIRING
Renatus is now hiring an Internal Operations Manager.
To date we have partnered with ten ambitious portfolio companies to help them realise their potential. Our small team means that all team members play an integral role in Renatus’ activities. This is an exciting time to join in on the Renatus journey as we look to increase our portfolio by continuing to back ambitious management teams and companies.
If you, or someone you know, is interested in applying, please visit the below LinkedIn posting:
Deal Details: AMCS has acquired FigBytes. Deal consideration was not disclosed.
AMCS is a Limerick-based provider of integrated software and vehicle technology for the environmental, waste, transport and logistics industries. The company is led by founder and CEO Jimmy Martin. In 2022 the business was valued at over €1.3bn, following a fundraise that included Insight Partners, Clearlake Capital, Highland Europe and the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF). In FY Dec’22 the business was reported to have ARR of c. €136.6m, which converted to an EBITDA of c. €21.0m.
FigBytes is a Canadian company which provides a software platform for tracking ESG targets. It was founded by Sonam Devgan and Ted Dhillon. The business previously received funding from Global Reserve Group and Quantum Energy Partners. It does not report turnover or EBITDA information.
Advisers: AMCS: Financial and Tax Due Diligence: EY led by Eanna Brennan, Tara Hynes, Fergal McAleavey and Michael Mills.
FigBytes: None mentioned.
Renatus Comment: This is AMCS’ second recent acquisition in the ESG space, following its deal to acquire German-based Quentic in 2022. It also acquired US-based developer of asset management software Utility Cloud, and Canadian-based payments company Merchant Broker last year. The combined consideration paid for the three deals was reported to be c. €470m. AMCS is one of the most low-profile of Irish unicorn businesses but its growth continues to be highly impressive. As sustainability remains one of the most pressing issues in modern society, the business is well placed to continue as a global leader. CEO Jimmy Martin previously told the story of AMCS’ origins and growth on the Renatus podcast. You can listen to it here.
Source: Irish Examiner
Verde Energy Group acquired by Octopus Energy Group
Deal Details: Verde Energy Group has been acquired by Octopus Energy Group. Deal consideration was not disclosed.
Verde Energy Group is a Cork-based energy services company focused on solar PV, battery storage & lighting for the commercial & industrial market. It was owned by John Keohane along with Paul Martin, who is expected to remain with the company following this deal. It does not report turnover or EBITDA information.
Octopus Energy Group is a UK-based energy company. In FY Apr’22 it reported turnover of c. £4.3bn. It is led by founder and CEO Greg Jackson.
Advisers: Verde Energy Group: Deal Advisory: JPA Brenson Lawlor led by Jason Bradshaw. Tax: JPA Brenson Lawlor led by Kevin Hendricken. Legal: ReganWall led by Adrian Wall and Neil Nolan.
Octopus Energy Group: Legal: BHSM led by Joe McVeigh and Sinead Mannion.
Renatus Comment: Octopus Energy Group previously acquired Armagh-based Renewable Energy Devices in 2022 and a minority stake in Cork-based Simply Blue in 2021. The Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) recently announced a €94m commitment to Octopus’ Sky Fund targeting renewable energy projects.
This deal will facilitate the development of over 50 solar projects in Ireland by 2027, with a total capacity of 100MW. Solar energy continues to be the fastest growing form of renewable energy in Ireland in both commercial and residential settings. As of July, over 60,000 homes had solar panels installed on rooftops and c. 500 houses were being connected to the grid every week.
Source: Power Technology
SeaChange acquired by NFP
Deal Details: SeaChange has been acquired by NFP. Deal consideration was not disclosed.
SeaChange is a Kildare-based provider of safety management solutions. It has over 300 clients in Ireland, Europe, and the US. The business was established in 2005 and is managed by recently appointed CEO, Dr Paul Cummins, son of the company’s founder Ger Cummins. The business does not report turnover or EBITDA information.
NFP is a New York-based global insurance business specialising in employee benefits, insurance brokering, consultancy, HR and wealth management. The business has 7,400 employees worldwide across 12 offices in the UK and Ireland.
Advisers: SeaChange: Legal: ReganWall led by Adrian Wall and Chris Murray. Corporate Finance: Mazars led by John Bowe, Damian Connaughton and Sam Hastings. Tax: Mazars led by Gerry Vahey and Aisling O’Carroll.
NFP: Legal: Flynn O’Driscoll led by Cian O’Leary and Aonghas Keane. TDD: Crowe led by Cormac Doyle and Niamh O’Grady.
Renatus Comment: The insurance industry has seen considerable activity within Ireland over the last couple of months. NFP has been particularly acquisitive in this sector with recent acquisitions of Tailored Finance and ReSure in 2022, Aiken Insurance in 2021, and HMP in 2020. NFP has also expanded its service offerings through the acquisition of Simon Shirley Advisors, a financial advisory firm, and Connor Consultancy, a HR consultancy firm. It is likely that NFP will continue on this acquisitive path as consolidation in the insurance sector continues.
Dean Hotel Group sells a majority stake to Lifestyle Hospitality Capital and Elliott Investment Management
Deal Details: The Dean Hotel Group has sold a majority stake to an investment vehicle led by Lifestyle Hospitality Capital and Elliott Investment Management. The deal is reported to value the portfolio of properties at over €350m.
The Dean Hotel Group consists of eight properties in Ireland, including The Dean, The Mayson, The Clarence, The Devlin, The Leinster and Glasson Lakehouse. The group is led by Paddy McKillen Jnr and Matt Ryan who began building the portfolio in 2009 when they opened the Dean on Harcourt Street in Dublin. The group also has hotels in development in Belfast and Birmingham which are expected to open by 2025. The group does not report revenue or EBITDA information.
Lifestyle Hospitality Capital (LHC) Group is a global investment management platform headquartered in London that targets investments in the lifestyle hospitality and operational real estate sectors.
Elliott Investment Management is a US-based investment management firm with approximately $59.2 billion in AUM and 555 employees as of June 2023.
Advisers: Dean Hotel Group: Financial: Eastdil Secured. Legal: Arthur Cox led by Stephen Ranalow, Michael Coyle, Eoin McCague.
Buyer Group: Legal: DLA Piper led by Éanna Mellett and Dara McDonald.
Renatus Comment: Despite inflated business costs and capacity constraints, hotels have returned to pre-pandemic levels of trade. Daniel O’Connor, Head of Hotels & Living at JLL Ireland, recently said that they are forecasting c. €500m of Irish hotel transactions for the full year 2023, up from €400m in 2022. This deal follows a number of transactions in the hotel space already this year including Dalata Hotel Group’s acquisition of Apex Hotel London Wall, East Coast Catering’s acquisition of the Crowne Plaza Dundalk, and the Louis Fitzgerald Group’s acquisition of the Imperial Hotel in Cork.
Source: Irish Times
Gaffney Mechanical acquired by Waterland
Deal Details: Gaffney Mechanical has been acquired by Waterland. Deal consideration was not disclosed.
Gaffney Mechanical is a Meath-based provider of mechanical and electrical engineering services, established in 1999. It was owned by Niall and Deirdre Gaffney. In FY Jun’22 it reported turnover of c. €70.0m which converted to EBITDA of c. €4.3m.
Waterland Private Equity is a pan-European private equity firm with offices across 11 countries. It was established in 1999 and now has over €10bn in AUM.
Advisers: Gaffney Mechanical: Corporate Finance: Mazars led by John Bowe and Damian Connaughton. Tax: Mazars led by Frank Greene and Noirin Cahalane. Legal: Beauchamps led by Shaun O’Shea and Julia Drennan.
Waterland: FDD: PwC led by Sean Martin and Vicky Ryan. TDD: PwC led by Colm O’Callaghan and Conor Meaney. Legal: Flynn O’Driscoll led by David Ryan and Alison Kenny.
Renatus Comment: Mechanical and electrical service providers deliver services relating to water, ventilation, heating and wiring to developments of all types. Gaffney serves a range of end markets including, residential, commercial, and the public sector. High-profile projects it has worked on include St James Hospital, Trinity College and Dublin Zoo.
Construction activity in Ireland remained relatively buoyant in 2023. The SCSI’s most recent Construction Monitoring Report stated that 7 out of 10 chartered surveyors believe the overall outlook for the construction sector is positive despite headwinds including higher interest rates and labour shortages.
Source: Business Plus
Musgrave acquires Joyce’s Supermarket Oranmore
Deal Details: Musgrave has acquired Joyce’s Supermarket Oranmore from Tesco. Deal consideration was not disclosed.
Musgrave is an Irish food retail, wholesale and food service company founded by brothers Thomas and Stuart Musgrave in Cork in 1876. In FY Jan’22, the business reported a turnover of c. €4.5bn, which converted to an EBITDA of c. €176.2m. The business is led by CEO Noel Keeley. Joyce’s was founded by Patrick C Joyce (Snr.) in 1951 as a single grocery store. The business grew to become one of the largest independent, family-run supermarkets in the country with a total of 10 supermarkets throughout Galway employing c. 500 people. It was acquired by Tesco in December 2021. Prior to the acquisition, the business was operated and owned by Pat Joyce (Jnr.).
Advisers: None mentioned.
Renatus Comment: The decision to sell the Oranmore site was a result of the CCPC’s investigation into Tesco’s €80m acquisition of the Joyce’s business two years ago. While the deal was ultimately cleared, the Commission ordered the sale of this location citing competition issues arising from Tesco already having another location in the town. The Irish Times reported that the store will operate under the direct ownership of Musgrave, though it may seek an independent retailer as a franchisee. In 2022, Musgrave acquired two other retailers – Galway-based McCambridge’s and Kilkenny-based Caulfield Supermarket.
Source: Irish Times
DMB Chartered Accountants sells reported 51% stake to ETL
Deal Details: DMB Chartered Accountants has sold a majority stake in the business to ETL. Deal consideration was not disclosed.
DMB Chartered Accountants is a Waterford-based provider of accounting, assurance, and corporate finance services. The company was established by David Breen in 2002 and employs c. 20 people. The business does not report revenue or EBITDA information.
ETL is a German multinational professional services business. It is the fifth largest accountancy practice in Germany behind the Big Four firms. The business does not report turnover or EBITDA information.
Advisers: None mentioned.
Renatus Comment: As stated in the Q3’23 Renatus M&A Review, the financial services sector has been subject to significant consolidation this year. One reason for this is that larger firms can benefit from shared resources and efficiencies of scale, improving their competitiveness vs smaller firms. You can read the report here. This deal follows ETL’s acquisition of 51% in accountancy firm, Noone Casey earlier this year. The firm is expected to continue to be acquisitive in Ireland, with Managing Director of ETL Ireland, Anthony Casey, stating it has plans for “many more” deals.
Lift Rite acquired by Amplex
Deal Details: 95% of the share capital of Lift Rite has been acquired by Amplex. Deal consideration was not disclosed.
Lift Rite is a Kildare-based supplier of lifting equipment and solutions for material handling, established in 1995. The business was owned by Mary and Mark Dardis. It does not report turnover or EBITDA information.
Amplex is a Swedish group that specialises in lifting technology, material handling, workplace safety and lighting. The group includes c. 20 operating companies with approximately 550 employees across Sweden, Finland, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Germany, the USA, Canada and China.
Advisers: Lift Rite: Corporate Finance: Grant Thornton led by David Kealy, Anita Mulligan and Paddy Dillon. Legal: Fieldfisher led by Feilim O’Caoimh and Conor Folan
Amplex: None mentioned.
Renatus Comment: This deal follows Amplex’ acquisition of Cork-based manufacturer of aviation shelters and maintenance hangars J.B. Roche, earlier this year. Lift Rite and Amplex have a long standing relationship with the former acting as a distributor of Pronomic material handling equipment which is manufactured by Amplex. Nordic consolidators are highly active across the lifting industry value-chain with the likes of Havator, Axel Johnson and Alimak featuring alongside Amplex as regular buyers throughout Europe.
Source: Amplex Press Release
Planet acquires Horizon Tax-Free Services/span>
Deal Details: Planet has acquired Horizon Tax-Free Services. Deal consideration was reported to be c. €5m.
Planet is a Galway-based payments company. The business was founded in Galway in 1985 by Aidan Daly, Jim Ward and Gerry Barry. It was previously known as Cashback and then Fintrax. It manages more than 800 million transactions worth over €50bn.
Horizon Tax-Free Services is the Tax-Free business of Kerry-based financial services company Fexco. It was founded in 1986. Fexco was founded in 1981 by current Chairman, Brian McCarthy. In FY Jan’22 the business reported revenue of c. €102.2m, which converted to an EBITDA of c. €8.9m.
Advisers: None mentioned.
Renatus Comment: This deal follows Planet’s announcement earlier this year that it had made 3 acqusitions focused on the hospitality market – Ideosoft, REBAG DATA and XN PMS Limited. The company (known as Fintrax) was partially acquired by French investment firm Eurazeo in 2015 for c. €585m, having grown to be one of the world’s largest payment processors. It was subsequently re-branded to Planet in 2018 and then received investment from Boston-based Advent International in 2021 in a deal which valued the company at c. €1.3bn. Planet also uses data to improve merchant sales performance and revenue streams. It has partnered with some of the world’s largest brands including Gucci, Hugo Boss, Calvin Klein and Giorgio Armani.
Source: Business Post
DEAL UPDATES & OTHER NEWS
IBI Corporate Finance in sales talks with Daiwa’s DC Advisory
Deal Details: It is understood that Ireland’s leading M&A advisory firm, IBI Corporate Finance, is in talks over a potential sale to international investment bank, DC Advisory. DC Advisory is owned by Daiwa Securities Group Inc., a leading Japanese investment bank. This comes six years after the firm was sold to management by Bank of Ireland in a deal that valued the firm at c. €10m. IBI Corporate Finance has seen significant growth in recent years with any new deal likely to value the business significantly higher. Existing management and senior executives are expected to continue to lead the business under a new DC Advisory structure.
Source: Irish Times
Larry Goodman to take full control of insolvent Barryroe
Deal Details: Barryroe is an Ireland-based company, which is engaged in oil and gas discovery off the coast of Ireland. The business was placed into examinership in late July following an application by Vevan Unlimited, a Larry Goodman company with a reported 20% stake in Barryroe. Larry Goodman is now set to take control of Barryroe this week with a c. €6m investment, when the High Court signs off on a rescue plan for the business, which is insolvent and in examinership. The rescue plan will focus on a transition of Barryroe away from fossil fuel extraction and move its focus to renewable energy projects.
Source: Business Post
An interim examiner has been appointed to HealthBeacon
Deal Details: The High Court has appointed an interim examiner to Dublin-based medical technology firm HealthBeacon after hearing it had “run out of cash” and needed external funding to meet its payroll commitments on Friday. Its US partner, Hamilton Beach Brands, has agreed to provide €2m in working capital facilities. HealthBeacon raised €25m when it floated in Dublin in 2021, valuing at close to €100m. Its market capitalisation is now just over €1m.
Source: Irish Times
Breffni Building and Civil Engineering Limited is a provider of plant hire, construction, civil engineering, demolition, logistics, rail engineering, maintenance and consultation solutions based in Ballyhack, Co. Dublin. The business is entirely owned by the Flynn family.
In its financial year to December 2022, the business generated a turnover of c. €17.2m, an increase of 40.6% year-on-year. This converted to an EBITDA of c. €0.9m, an increase of 2.1% year-on-year. Revenue growth outstripping EBITDA growth is primarily attributable to a decline in gross margins year-on-year falling from c. 15.2% to c 12.8%.
Significant post-EBITDA cash movements include working capital movement of c. €1m. The business finished the year with a cash balance of c. €4.5m, an increase of c. €2.6m year-on-year.
Who: LvLogics, a manufacturer of a laser-based, real-time remote system that measures the volume of bulk materials stored in a silo. The business was founded by Barry & Eileen Finnegan and is based just outside Oldcastle, Co Meath.
What: The business has received over €1m in funding to date led by serial investors Norbert & Brendan McDermott, Netherlands-based VC firm Navus Ventures and Enterprise Ireland.
Why: The funding will be used to develop the company’s SiloSpi product and to help expand into international markets.
Source:LvLogics Press Release
Who: X-Bolt, a Dublin-based medical devices company, founded by Brian Thornes.
What: The business has received investment from Ronan Quinlan, the former owner of antenna and sensor business Taoglas.
Why: The business will likely use the funding the fuel growth and develop its pipeline of orthopaedic products including hip, leg and spine devices.
Source:The Sunday Times
Who: Net Feasa, an IoT cargo ship technology firm led by Mike Fitzgerald.
What: The business has received investment from Cartrawler co-founder Greg Turley.
Why: The funding will likely be used to fund growth, as the business aims to put sensors for tracking real-time data, in each of the world’s 30 million shipping containers.
Source:The Sunday Times
Who: GreyScout, an online brand protection platform led by John Killian.
What: The business has received investment from Brian Caulfield, founder of Exceptis Technologies and Similarity Systems.
Why: The funding will be used to help scale the business as it attempts to prevent unauthorized third-party sellers and IP infringers from compromising the integrity of online brands.
Source:The Sunday Times
EXECUTIVE AND BOARD APPOINTMENTS
We in Renatus believe that more important than the deals are the people and we are pleased to provide you with details of key recent executive and board-level appointments.