Digiweb acquires ActionPoint, Sentinel acquires Samdec, BPE acquired by Unispace, Wrkit is acquired by Benefex, Kainos acquires Blackline Group and much more in our latest Renatus M&A synopsis.
Renatus Weekly M&A & Company Performance Private Equity Newsletter 16/01/2022
Please find below this week’s newsletter covering the latest M&A, company performance, fundraisings and executive moves.
Digiweb acquires ActionPoint
Deal Details: Digiweb Group, through its subsidiary Viatel, has acquired Limerick-based IT business, ActionPoint for an undisclosed amount.
ActionPoint is a digital transformation services business founded by David Jeffreys and John Savage in 2005 with Ger O’Mahony holding the position of Chairman. The business specialises in bespoke software development and managed IT services.
ActionPoint joined the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 in 2014 and is also a Deloitte Best Managed Company. The business has offices in Limerick, Dublin, Lisburn, Cork and Galway.
Digiweb Holdings, headquartered in Dundalk, Co Louth, is a telecoms and IT services company. It is a full-service national communications and managed services provider delivering next-generation solutions to Irish businesses.
The company was founded in 1997 by Colm Piercy, is led by CEO Paul Rellis and is owned by Chirisa Investments and Quay Ventures.
Advisers: Holmes advised the shareholders of ActionPoint. The deal was led by George Kennedy (Corporate Partner) Shane Costelloe (Senior Associate- Employment) and Ciara Downes (Trainee Solicitor).
Sam Nolan, Anya Cummins & Patrick McInerney from Deloitte also advised ActionPoint.
Gareth Cosgrove and Mark Holst from Grant Thornton advised Digiweb/Viatel.
Renatus Comment: Both parties in this deal have been extremely active recently and have been regular features in this newsletter. This latest update marks Viatel’s fourth acquisition since the start of 2020, following acquisitions of Nova Telecom, Ripplecom and Irish Telecom. ActionPoint completed two acquisitions since 2019, ICT Project Management and P2V Systems with the ICT Project Management acquisition closing less than two months ago. In the press release for ActionPoint’s November acquisition of ICT Project Management, it was reported that this deal would bring ActionPoints yearly revenue to c.€16m.
Deal Details: Sentinel Risk has acquired Samdec Security for an undisclosed sum.
Sentinel, founded in 2019 by Terry McElvaney, is a Dublin-based provider of security risk consultancy, guarding, investigations and technical services to corporates, State, construction, finance and the legal profession.
Samdec Security, founded in 2002, provides security services throughout Northern Ireland. The business is led by MD Martin Cheshire. The business is wholly owned by Martin and Margaret Cheshire.
Advisers: Karl Cleere of Solara Corporate Finance provided corporate finance advice to Sentinel. Rhys Jones of Johnsons Solicitors in Belfast provided legal advice to Sentinel. Paul O’Brien of Tughans provided legal advice to Samdec.
Renatus Comment: Samdec provides event security and other security services, which are likely to have been impacted by Covid given the level of restrictions on the events industry in Ireland in recent times. There may be a rebound in this area as events come back and restrictions are gradually lifted across the country. The acquisition of Samdec is the first acquisition in Ireland and provides Sentinel with client and staff coverage throughout the Island of Ireland and the UK. With both companies offering similar services, Sentinel should see a boost from both companies’ event security services. Management at Samdec Security will remain with the business.
Source: Sentinel Press Release
BPE acquired by Unispace
Deal Details: Cork-based BioPharma Engineering (BPE) has been acquired by Unispace for an undisclosed sum.
BioPharma Engineering designs and delivers laboratory, research and manufacturing facility space for pharmaceutical and life sciences companies.
Founded in 2006 by Managing Director, John O’Reilly, BPE currently employs 100 people in its Cork and Dublin offices. The company’s directors own 72% of the business. In 2020, the business generated €5.2m in turnover.
Unispace, based in Sydney, Australia, operates in 26 countries and employs over 600 people. It is a global leader in business interior space design and commercial interior design.
The business was founded in 2010 by Gareth Hales. It is now led by CEO, Steve Quick. The company is owned by PAG Asia Capital, having been purchased in 2020 for AUD300m.
Advisers: RDJ advised BPE. The RDJ transaction team included Gillian Keating (Corporate and Commercial), Maria Walsh (Corporate and Commercial), Jennifer Cashman (Employment), Eoin Tobin (Tax) and Mark Ludlow (Tax).
Renatus Comment: The deal will allow BioPharma to accelerate its global expansion as part of the wider Unispace network, in key markets across North America, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. The new Unispace Centre of Excellence, to be established in Cork, will further solidify the region’s primary role among the global life sciences space, with nine of the world’s top 10 life sciences companies already based in Cork.
Wrkit is acquired by Benefex
Deal Details: Dublin-headquartered employee engagement platform Wrkit has been acquired by Benefex, a UK-based subsidiary of the Zellis Group. The deal consideration was not disclosed.
Wrkit uses its platform to deliver learning, wellbeing, recognition and lifestyle savings options for employees of over 300 various organisations which include brands such as Bank of Ireland, Coca Cola, Deloitte, Hays, IBM, KPMG, Oracle and Vodafone.
The business has offices in Dublin, London and Sydney and serves clients all around the world. The business was founded by Peter Jenkinson, Mark Jenkinson, and Tom O’Driscoll in 2017.
Zellis Group is a provider of payroll and HR software, managed services, and benefits management for companies across the UK and the Republic of Ireland.
The group comprises of three businesses: Zellis, a provider of payroll and core HR software and services for businesses with more than 1000 employees; Moorepay, which provides payroll and HCM software and services for SMBs, and Benefex, which through its platform OneHub supports all organisations with employee benefits, recognition, and communications.
Zellis employs over 200 people and recorded revenues of c. £160m year ending April 2021.
Advisers: Wrkit was advised by Frank Dunne and Jason Daly of KPMG, together with Andy McConnell and Anna Hickey in Philip Lee.
Benefex/The Zellis Group was advised by Pinsents UK and Bain Capital as shareholder.
Renatus Comment: Prior to being acquired by Bain in 2018, Zellis was traditionally focused on payroll and human resource management. Following this Bain investment, Zellis acquired Benefex and has been on a clear mission to break into and become a leader in the employee experience and engagement space since. This is Benefax/Zellis’s second acquisition in this space after the acquisition of Capita’s employee benefits business. The employee engagement and experience space has been increasingly active since the beginning of the Covid pandemic. As staff becomes increasingly difficult to get and retain and work from home has become more normalised, businesses are investing more into tools like Wrkit. WorkHuman is a huge player in this space and this topic is discussed at length in Renatus’ first podcast with Barry Maloney, which can be accessed through the following link: The Renatus Podcast – Episode 1 with Barry Maloney.
Source: Benefex Press Release
Kainos acquires Blackline Group
Deal Details: Northern Irish IT company, Kainos PLC, has acquired US-based Blackline Group for an undisclosed sum.
Kainos PLC, headquartered in Belfast, develops information technology solutions for businesses and organisations, particularly in the public, healthcare, and financial services sectors. It is also a Workday services partner.
The company, which employs 2,400 people, is led by Chief Executive, Brendan Mooney. Mooney is the company’s largest shareholder, with 11.47% of common shares, valued at €280m. In the year to March 2021, the company generated turnover of €263m, which converted to an EBITDA of €57.9m.
Established in 2009 and headquartered in Washington state, Blackline Group is a specialty services firm that focuses on procurement and is an experienced advisory partner for Workday Strategic Sourcing (formerly Scout RFP). The business has been a Workday advisory partner since Workday acquired Scout RFP in 2019.
Advisers: Patrick Robb and Ben Griffiths of Investec Bank plc, Simon Bridges and Andrew Potts of Canaccord Genuity, Matt Dixon, Dwight Burden, and Kwaku Aning of FTI Consulting LLP acted as financial advisors to Kainos Group plc.
Renatus Comment: The acquisition sees Kainos strengthen its capabilities in the Workday ecosystem, with the company having already acquired six Workday partner companies. This is a significant growth area for Kainos, revenues in this segment grew by 32% in H1 2022. Workday itself is targeting a 20% growth CAGR until 2026 and as Kainos historically outperforms Workday’s underlying growth, high rates of sales growth may continue. Kainos’ share price fell 2% on the deal’s announcement, according to CapitalIQ. Kainos’ share price is up c. 42% in the past 12 months.
Source: Irish Independent
TETRA majority stake acquired by Digital 9
Deal Details: Digital 9 Wireless has agreed a deal to acquire 56% stake of Tetra Ireland Communications from eircom for a reported total consideration of approx. €76m. The company may have the opportunity to increase the acquisition up to a 100% holding for a reported total of €136m.
TETRA Ireland is the exclusive operator of public safety communication networks across Ireland, having been mandated by the Government of the RoI in 2006 and contractually renewed in 2020.
97% of TETRA Ireland’s customer base are RoI Government public bodies, comprised of c. 70 agencies with some 24,000 active subscribers principally across emergency services.
Digital 9 Wireless is a subsidiary of London-based Digital 9 Infrastructure PLC which is an externally managed closed-ended investment company. The company primarily focuses on digital infrastructure investments which are operational and with contracts in place with customer or counterparties where appropriate.
Advisers: None mentioned
Renatus Comment: In March of last year Digital 9 acquired Irish, ISIF backed Aqua Comms, a sub-sea fibre optic cable operator for a reported €181m. This latest investment is Digital 9’s first investment into wireless infrastructure and marks the commitment of all its available capital. As a result, Digital 9 has launched a placing at 108p per share, targeting a total raise of £200m. It will be interesting to see how much of this capital goes toward Irish investments after two of Digital 9’s four investments to date have been into Irish businesses.
Demesne Electrical acquired by OEM
Deal Details: Demesne Electrical Sales Limited Ireland has been acquired by OEM International for an undisclosed amount.
Demesne, founded in 1977 and headquartered in Dublin, is Ireland’s leading independent importer and distributor of electrical control, switchgear, energy saving & installation products.
The company has a total revenue of €20m with operating profit of €2.5m. The company has a strong product portfolio based on long partnerships with many of Europe’s leading manufacturers.
OEM International, is one of Europe’s leading technology trading groups. OEM, headquartered in Sweden, has a portfolio of more than 60,000 products from over 400 suppliers and 37 operating business units in 14 countries split into three geographic regions.
The majority of OEM’s customers operate in various segments of the manufacturing industry, producing various kinds of machinery and equipment using constituent components from subcontractors.
Advisers: None mentioned
Renatus Comment: This deal marks a huge success for Demesne owners David Williamson, Paul Fitzsimons and Chris McKenna. In 2019 we covered Demesne in the company performance section of our newsletter when the business reported revenue of c. €15.9m which converted to an EBITDA of c. €1.2m. Demesne is now reported to generate revenue of c. €20m and is a Deloitte Best Managed Company.
Source: OEM International Press Release
Scope Technology Group acquires Focus Fire & Security Systems
Deal Details: Scope Technology Group has announced the acquisition of Focus Fire & Security Systems Ltd. for an undisclosed sum.
Scope Technology Group is a collection of specialist systems & design companies providing unique convergence of critical IoT services through one channel.
The Group’s companies provide: ICT Data, Lighting Control, Audio Visual, Security, Fire, & Energy solutions
Focus Fire & Security Systems Ltd., based in Meath, specialises on servicing the security needs of various retail, commercial, industrial, and domestic operations throughout the Irish marketplace.
Advisers: Eversheds Solicitors acted on behalf of Scope Technology Group Ltd.
Diamond Splash Ltd. and BHSM Solicitors acted on behalf of Focus Fire & Security Systems Ltd.
Renatus Comment: This deal marks a continuation of a consolidation trend playing out in both the B2B and B2C alarm and security markets in recent times. The recurring revenue nature of the business model has made these attractive targets for private capital and trade operators looking to build a platform of scale. Other notable recent transactions in this space include Fortus Group’s acquisition of RE:SURE and Enterprise Security Distribution in March 2021, Sector Alarms acquisition of Homesecure also in March 2021, Action24’s acquisition of Integral Securities and Wilson Security in May 2021 and January 2022, respectively. It appears we are in the middle of a number of players attempting to execute a roll-up in this sector.
Allergy Standards Limited Complete MBO backed by Beechbrook Capital
Deal Details: Dublin-based, Allergy Standards Limited (ASL) has announced the completion of a successful MBO backed by Beechbrook Capital, a UK, and Ireland-based private debt and equity house. Deal consideration was not disclosed.
ASL is an international certification body that prepares verification protocols for Products and Services to optimise healthy indoor air. CEO and company founder, Dr. John McKeon and Chief Strategy Officer (CSO), Dr. John Ryan led the management buyout of the business. ASL employed a total of 9 people in 2020 and reported revenue of c. €2.1m.
Beechbrook Capital is a specialist European lower mid-market lender and has invested in over 80 companies including 6 companies in Ireland, where it has a dedicated Irish debt fund and offices in Cork and Dublin.
Advisers: ASL: AIB provided corporate finance advisory led by Ian Cullinane and with support from Alan Mahon.
Renatus Comment: With the issue of poor air quality becoming an increasing concern for consumers and businesses alike, ASL is well poised to grow and has experienced significant revenue growth since Covid entered our lives. In 2017, the business recorded a total revenue of just below €1.5m with the business most recently reporting revenues in excess of €2.1m for year ended December 2020. ASL is also a well-accredited player in this space after being awarded one of the three prizes in the 2019 US-Ireland Research Innovation Awards.
The team of Dr. John Mckeon and Dr. John Ryan is an impressive duo. Dr. John McKeon has founded a number of life science businesses and is heavily involved in both the Centre for Practice and Healthcare Innovation and the Faculty of Health Sciences and the Knowledge Transfer & Innovation Committee. Dr. John Ryan has an equally impressive resume and has acted as an advisor, business mentor, and non-executive director to a number of funds, private and NFP entities. Ryan previously founded the Certification Europe Group, and led the sale of that business to private equity.
This is a classic example of backing a quality enterprise, led by great people in a growing space.
Source: Allergy Standards Press Release
Talbot Hotels acquires Clonmel Park Hotel
Deal Details: The Talbot Hotel Group have acquired the Clonmel Park Hotel for a reported €7.5m.
The Clonmel, a four-star facility located in Tipperary, was previously owned by Tetrarch Capital, a participant in the Irish real estate market. Tetrarch acquired the Clonmel in 2015 and performed a variety of refurbishments on the facility. The Clonmel was last reported to employ c. 120 staff. Tetrarch still owns a number of hotels including Mount Juliet, the Dawson Hotel in Dublin, and Citywest in Saggart.
The Talbott Hotel Group owns six other hotels throughout Ireland including the Talbot Hotel in Stillorgan, the Talbot Hotel Wexford, and the Oriel House Hotel. The group is owned by the Pettitt family who also owns various supermarkets throughout the country. The holding company for the Pettitt family’s entire hotel and supermarket group (Torski) reported a turnover of c. €128m in 2019 and employed over 1,000 staff.
The Clonmel will be renamed as the Talbot Hotel Clonmel following this transaction.
Advisers: None Mentioned
Renatus Comment: This deal marks Tetrarch Capitals’ second hotel divestment in the past month after the group sold the Killashee Hotel to Barry English for a reported €25m last month. The Pettitt family also has an impressive growth story, having started with just a single property, the Talbot Hotel Wexford, and growing into the group we see today. Despite the challenges faced by hotels due to Covid and various leisure stocks taking a dive, the hotel market seems as active as ever.
Source: The Irish Times
CRIF acquires majority stake in HPI
Deal Details: Italian-based credit and business data group CRIF has acquired 73% shareholding in Hire Purchase Ireland (HPI). The deal consideration was not disclosed.
HPI was founded in 1948 to monitor the registration and status of Irish financed assets, particularly motor vehicles.
The business works closely with banks such as AIB, Bank of Ireland, and Ulster Bank, all of whom are shareholders with c. 9% stakes in the business post-transaction. The business recorded revenue of c. €1.7m in 2020.
CRIF is a global company specializing in credit bureau and business information, outsourcing and processing services, and credit solutions.
Established in 1988 in Bologna (Italy), CRIF has an international presence, operating in Europe, America, Africa, and Asia. The business recorded revenue of over €560m in 2020 and employs over 5,500 people.
Advisers: None mentioned
Renatus Comment: This acquisition is not CRIF’s first move into the Irish market as the Italian giant acquired Irish business Vision-Net in 2018.
Source: CRIF Press Release
DEALS UPDATES & OTHER NEWS
DMG finalises deal to acquire Business Plus magazine
Deal Details: DMG Media Group, the owner of Irish Daily Mail publication, has completed the acquisition of Business Plus magazine. The deal value was not disclosed, however it is reported by industry insiders to be around €500,000.
The deal, initially agreed in September – subject to CCPC approval, will help Business Plus reach a wider readership and extend DMG’s audience reach from the consumer to the business sector.
Source: Irish Times
Ørsted announces plans to develop windfarm in co. Antrim
Deal Details: Danish multinational power company, Ørsted has announced plans to develop a 16MW onshore wind farm in Ballykeel, Antrim after acquiring the site in June of last year. This wind farm is being developed with the expressed purpose of supplying energy to American multinational, Amazon.
Source: The Business Post
EDF Renewables and DP Energy announce Joint Venture
Deal Details: EDF Renewables, a subsidiary of French EDF Group have announced a joint venture with Cork-based DP Energy to develop a floating offshore wind farm in the Celtic sea. The project, which is to be named Gwynt Glas, is expected to generate 1GW of energy and provide power for c. 927,400 homes.
Source: The Business Post
Who: Flipdish, a digital food-ordering platform, has become Ireland’s fifth official home-grown tech unicorn following its latest fundraise. The business was co-founded by brothers Conor and James McCarthy.
What: Flipdish has raised $100m (€87m) in funding, led by Chinese conglomerate Tencent.
Why: The company will use part of the funding to hire 700 people this year, mainly in tech-related roles.
Who: CameraMatics, a Dublin-based Internet of things fleet and vehicle safety technology specialist. The business was founded as ProVision in 2016 by Mervyn O’Callaghan and Simon Murray.
What: The business has raised €3.9m in funding from previous investors Puma Investments, Sure Valley Ventures and Enterprise Ireland.
Why: The funding is to be used to fund expansion into new markets and scale to meet the demand for the business’s services.
Source: Irish Times
Who: Responsible, a start-up that has developed a technology solution that allows upmarket fashion brands to buy back previously worn items from shoppers, has raised funding. The company was founded by Mitch Doust and Mark Dowds, a former EY Entrepreneur of the Year finalist.
What: The company has secured $6.6m (€5.8m) in funding from backers including Barclays and Silicon Valley tech executive Sarah Friar.
Why: Responsible intends to use the funding to establish a presence in the European Union.
Who: Echelon Data Centres, an international data centre infrastructure developer with six facilities under development in the UK and Ireland with a potential combined capacity of around 500MW. Echelon was founded in 2017 by CEO Niall Molloy, the principal of Aldgate Developments.
What: The business has successfully raised €855m in debt financing.
Why: The funding is to be used to finance Echelon’s latest project, DUB10, a data centre in Clondalkin, Dublin with a capacity of over 90MW.
Advisers: Echelon was advised by Broadstone Capital Advisors, specialists in the energy, digital and healthcare sectors.
Source: Broadstone Capital Advisory Press Release
Who: ProVerum, an Irish medtech company, has raised funding. The company was founded in 2016 by Ríona Ní Ghriallais and Conor Harkin.
What: The company has raised €30m in funding in a series A funding round co-led by Gilde Healthcare and Lightstone Ventures, along with Atlantic Bridge.
Why: The funding will be used to support ProVerum’s clinical programme, as it aims to bring its ProVee device to market in both Europe and the US.
Source: Irish Times
Who: Genesis Automation, a Cork-based clinical traceability solution for the medical industry. The business was founded in 2010 by Noel O’Hanlon and recently signed a multimillion euro deal to provide their technology to NHS Scotland.
What: The business has raised €10m in growth debt financing from IPF Partners, a leading alternative financing provider focused on the healthcare sector. IPF has been a partner of Genesis since 2015.
Why: The funding is to be used to further develop the product offering and continue expansion into new geographies.
Source: Genesis Automation Press Release
Who: Clearword, a Cork-based business software company founded by David Coallier and Daire Irwin, has raised seed funding.
What: The $3.25m (€2.8m) round was led by Connect Ventures. Act Ventures, Hello World and Unpopular Ventures, along with Cork entrepreneur Pat Phelan, technologist Dave Concannon, Oyster chief executive Tony Jamous, and TrueLayer chief Luca Martinetti were also among backers.
Why: The funding will be used for product development.
Who: The Corporate Governance Institute, an edtech start-up specializing in training and certifying the next generation of company directors and board members, secures funding. The business was founded in 2020 by Anthony Quigley and David W Duffy.
What: €2m investment is provided by the Davy EIIS Fund. Davy EIIS Fund is managed by BES Management DAC, a joint venture between BDO and Davy.
Why: The funding will be used for expansion and product development.
Advisers: Focus Capital Partners team, led by Alan Kelly, Brian Barrett and Edel Mulvihill provided lead corporate finance advice to the Corporate Governance Institute. Wallace Corporate Counsel LLP, BDO and Leman Solicitors also advised on this investment.
Who: The NTMA raises more than a third of its minimum 2022 funding target.
What: €3.5bn is raised via 10-year bond sale. The bonds, sold through a syndicate of banks and securities firms, were priced to carry an interest rate, or coupon, of 0.387 per cent.
Why: The funding is raised to meet the strong demand from a diversified investor base. According to NTMA, the total order book exceeded €27bn and included more than 180 individual accounts.
Source: Irish 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.
There was an excellent piece in FT last week by Camilla Cavendish about home and hybrid working that should strike a chord with many who are afraid to question the net benefits of homeworking.
The article stemmed from a talk she gave to CEOs about home working and she got a lot of private feedback that CEOs don’t believe it is working as effectively as people think.
She quotes “A study of 10,000 skilled professionals at a large Asian tech company found that the productivity of those working from home fell by up to a fifth: many were working longer hours, but output fell, partly because they were just having more meetings.”
She also quotes two other studies citing input and output reduction.
She suggested that in some cases the well-being of employees is being ranked ahead of the well-being of the customers and key stakeholders who ultimately provide this employment. Across the water, there was a 500k backlog of processing driving licences, many of which were commercially crucial.
She quotes a CEO who claims that the great resignation is being linked to looser ties to colleagues and employers as a result of remote working.
Other great quotes from the article include:
“Sir John Timpson, chair of the high street firm Timpson, believes that even if we think we want to stay at home, we are social animals who “flourish in the company of other people”. Firms that adopt hybrid models in which the office is an occasional meeting place will be at a “competitive disadvantage”, he warns. ”
“we’re overscheduling our calendar to compensate for the lack of social interaction”. “No one wants to return to presenteeism or exploitation. But I do wonder why we are so reluctant to acknowledge that productivity might be dented by homeworking.”