Renatus Weekly M&A & Company Performance Private Equity Newsletter 22/10/2023
Please find below this week’s newsletter covering the latest M&A, company performance, fundraisings and executive moves.
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
Changes to the Employment Investment Incentive Scheme (“EIIS”) were announced in this week’s Finance Bill, with tiered levels of relief to be introduced depending on the nature of the business raising EIIS funding. Previously, all EIIS relief was 40% but from 1 January 2024 the rate of relief will range from 50% down to 20%.
Per the EIIS Innovation Fund, from 1 January 2024, EIIS rates will be:
50% for businesses that ‘have not operated in any market’;
35% for a business in its first EIIS fundraise within 7 years of its first sale;
20% for a business in its second or subsequent EIIS fundraise;
20% for a business expanding into new markets or regions; and
30% for investments via a ‘Qualifying Investment Fund’, of which there is only one in Ireland.
The aim of the EIIS scheme is ultimately to encourage equity investment in growing Irish businesses and has proven a crucial source of funding for Irish SMEs. Whatever about taxation policies motivating entrepreneurs, risk capital is their oxygen and tax incentives certainly motivate investors to invest risk capital.
Investors should be incentivised to support indigenous companies but the incoming restrictions will effectively add an extra layer of risk to these investments. Blackstone’s founder and chairman, Steve Schwarzman, recently highlighted the need to incentivise risk capital, emphasising that ‘if you can earn 12 per cent, maybe 13 per cent on a really good day in senior secured bank debt, what else do you want to do in life?’ Speaking at the IPEM industry conference, he posits that ‘if you are living in a no-growth economy and somebody can give you almost 12, 13 per cent with almost no prospect of loss, that’s about the best thing you can do’.
THE RENATUS PODCAST
In this latest Renatus Podcast, host Greg Dilger talks to former Kerry Group CEO, Stan McCarthy, about the rise and globalisation of Kerry Group. Stan, a farmer’s son from Kerry, joined Kerry Group in 1986 on a graduate trainee programme and retired 41 years later. Kerry Group’s share price was just over €19 in 2007 when he took over as CEO and was around €70 when he handed over the CEO jersey to Edmond Scanlon in 2017.
Nowadays, following his retirement from Kerry Group, Stan uses all of those attributes on a completely different stage as Non-Exec Chairman of Ryanair – Europe’s largest airline.
Stan covers a lot of ground on the show:
He talks about culture.
He talks about the difference between a CEO and Chairman.
He raises the dynamic of the shift of stakeholders from shareholder only to wider constituents.
If one nugget came out for us on what can be learnt from a guy with a unique perspective on Ireland’s greatest business success stories, it is that long-term thinking is ingrained in both cultures. He took a 7-year view on the implementation of an ERP in Kerry Group and unlike many other organisations, they got it right. He credits Ryanair’s current position as the result of long-term thinking when it comes to buying aircraft and more.
If you haven’t done so already, it would be greatly appreciated if our newsletter community could please leave our podcast a review or follow us on your chosen platform.
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: W.H. Scott has acquired Metlab Ltd. Deal details have not been disclosed.
W.H. Scott Group is a market leader in the design, fabrication, supply, inspection, and certification of equipment used in highly regulated lifting and industrial markets. It was founded in Belfast in 1897 and is now headquartered in Rathnew, Co. Wicklow, with depots located across Ireland and the UK. The Group now serves its customers through four specialised operating entities (W.H. Scott & Son Engineers, Hiltonne Engineering, Metlab and Re-Ropes). It is led by Managing Director, Patrick Doyle. Renatus invested in the Group in October 2023.
Metlab, headquartered in Cork, is a leader in non-destructive testing, construction materials testing and accredited third-party weld testing. Metlab’s focus sectors are petrochemical, pharmaceutical, utilities, civil construction, and manufacturing. Metlab was owned by Jim Humphreys and Eddie Breen.
Advisers: W.H. Scott: Legal: Clark Hill led by Darragh McNulty. Financial & Tax: Fitzgeralds, Leinster Lodge, Maynooth.
Metlab: None mentioned.
Renatus Comment: The acquisition of Metlab further expands W.H. Scott’s capabilities on the island of Ireland, adding non-destructive testing, construction materials testing and accredited welding inspections to the Group’s existing service offering. Given Metlab’s existing focus on the pharmaceutical, utilities and civil construction spaces in particular, there are immediate synergies to be realised between the entities. 12 months after W.H. Scott’s acquisition of Re-Ropes in the UK, the addition of Metlab to the Group will further its evolution into a complete design, fabrication, inspection and testing provider to highly regulated lifting and industrial markets, which will be a key focus during its partnership with Renatus over the coming years.
Source: W.H. Scott Press Release
IMS Marketing acquired by LOCOMOTIVE Agency
Deal Details: IMS Marketing has been acquired by LOCOMOTIVE Agency for an undisclosed consideration.
IMS Marketing offers marketing solutions to businesses in medtech, engineering, manufacturing, IoT and software. The company is based in Galway and was founded by Managing Director, Kevin Moran, who will remain in the agency post-acquisition along with his senior management team. It has over 100 clients and has worked on a number of programmes with Government agencies such as Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland. The business does not report turnover or EBITDA information.
LOCOMOTIVE Agency is a US-based digital marketing agency. The company specialises in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and paid advertising, receiving ‘Best Small SEO Agency of the Year’ from the US Search Awards in 2022. Founded by current CEO, Marty Martin, the company does not report turnover or EBITDA information.
Advisers: LOCOMOTIVE: Legal: Philip Lee led by Anna Hickey and Daniel Ryan, supported by Brock Shipe Klenk Plc. Financial & Tax: RSM
IMS: Legal: MacSweeney & Co led by Gavin Bluett.
Renatus Comment: IMS Marketing’s acquisition by LOCOMOTIVE will aid the business in accelerating its aims of growing internationally, providing it with exposure to both the US and European markets. Encouragingly for IMS, LOCOMOTIVE has experience in integrating acquisitions, having also acquired Mad Leads, an SEO marketing company, in 2021. In line with this expansion, IMS’ workforce is expected to double by the end of 2025.
Source: Irish Times
Ingka Investments acquires stake in offshore wind project portfolio of Source Galileo
Deal Details: Ingka Investments has acquired a 20% stake in the offshore wind farm portfolio of Source Galileo. Deal consideration was not disclosed.
Source Galileo is a Dublin and London-based company that develops large-scale renewable projects in Ireland, the UK and Norway. The company is currently developing 10GW of offshore wind across its 10 wind farm projects. The business does not report turnover or EBITDA information.
Headquartered in the Netherlands, Ingka Investments is the investment arm of Ingka Group, the largest owner and operator of IKEA franchises. The company has invested in over 25 companies with sustainability being a key factor in all of its investments.
Advisers: Ingka: Legal: Arthur Cox led by John Matson and Amy McDermott (Corporate and M&A), and including Niamh O’Toole, Eoin McCague, and Colm Honan (Corporate and M&A), Alex McLean, James Downey and Gillian Carragher (Infrastructure, Construction and Utilities), Jacinta Conway and Rachel O’Callaghan (Environment and Planning), Patrick Horan and Sarah Gallagher (Competition and Regulated Markets), and David Kilty (Tax).
Source Galileo: None Mentioned
Renatus Comment: This is the latest acquisition in Ingka Investments’ €6.5bn initiative to support 100% renewable energy consumption, having already committed €4bn to renewable energy projects to date. This deal also reinforces its partnership with Source Galileo as they have previously collaborated to develop offshore wind in Norway, with Kansai Electric Power, and Norway’s Odjfell Oceanwind. Such investment in renewable energy projects is essential in Ireland, with a need to develop at least 20GW of offshore wind by 2040 in order to meet its European climate goals.
Cordovan Capital Management supports MBO of Solmatix Renewables
Deal Details: Cordovan Capital has backed Neville Bell in the MBO of Solmatix Renewables for an undisclosed sum.
Solmatix Renewables designs and installs solar PV, solar thermal systems and battery storage systems across the UK. The company is based in Northern Ireland and was owned by Harvey Group Plc. The business does not report turnover or EBITDA information. The business is currently led by Managing Director, Neville Bell.
Cordovan Capital is a private equity firm based in Belfast. The business invests in UK and Irish companies with an Enterprise Value of up to £10m. The company was founded in 2011 by Managing Partner, Mike Irvine.
Advisers: None Mentioned
Renatus Comment: Despite the obvious benefits of solar energy, with it being significantly cheaper than other forms of energy for homes once installed, uptake has been slow. Only 4.1% of UK homes generate their electricity from solar panels, while there are only c. 60,000 homes with solar panels in Ireland. With domestic solar panel installation doubling from 2021 to 2022 in the UK and government supports underpinning a transition for homeowners in both Ireland and the UK, demand is unlikely to abate in the short term. Catering for this demand presents an opportunity for investors such as Cordovan to realise an impressive return on investment in the coming years by partnering with a platform such as Solmatix in a growing market.
Source: Cordovan Press Release
CTS acquired by HSL Compliance
Deal Details: Chemical Treatment Services Ltd (CTS) has been acquired by HSL Compliance. Deal consideration was not disclosed.
CTS is a water treatment company headquartered in Belfast. The business was founded by Robin Fergusson in 1984 and has grown from a small start-up to a nationwide provider of legionella control, water treatment and related plumbing works. The business does not report turnover or EBITDA information.
HSL Compliance is a UK risk and compliance leader, specialising in water, hazardous materials and fire safety. The company which was formed in 1976 employs over 250 people and carries out over 120,000 planned compliance visits every year. HSL is backed by LDC, a UK private equity fund. In FY Dec 22, the business reported turnover of c. £22.3m which converted to an EBITDA of c. £1.6m.
Advisers: CTS: Legal: A&L Goodbody led by David Rowan. Financial: Magill Adams led by Kelley Magill.
HSL Compliance: None Mentioned.
Renatus Comment: The water industry has seen significant consolidation globally in 2023 with several major deals including Xylem’s acquisition of Evoqua and Solenis’ acquisition of Diversey. Demand for water treatment services continues to grow due to water quantity and quality issues worldwide. This transaction is HSL Compliance’s third acquisition in the last year, following the acquisitions of Jordan Environmental and DMA Canyon in 2022.
Source: Irish News
Erisbeg acquires majority stake in Fruition
Deal Details: Erisbeg has acquired a majority stake in Fruition. The deal is reportedly worth over €15m.
Based in Leeds, Fruition consists of two businesses, Fruition IT which is a specialist IT recruitment firm and Fruition Consulting, a leading IT development firm. The companies were formed by CEO Sarah Pawson in 2008. Group revenues were reportedly in excess of £50m last year.
Erisbeg is a Dublin-based private equity firm.
Advisers: Erisbeg: Corporate Finance: Clearwater led by John Sheridan and Jonathan McDonnell. Legal: Pinsent Masons led by Andrew Kerr and Ann Lalor. Debt Advisory: Deloitte led by Brian Fennelly, Ross O’Donovan and David Fitzgerald. Financial: RSM led by Mark Leyland.
Fruition: None mentioned.
Renatus Comment: Erisbeg has been highly active in the IT space in the last 12 months having acquired majority stakes in EMR Integrated Solutions, a telecommunications and cybersecurity solutions provider, and Eolas Recruitment, a specialist IT recruitment company. The business plans to build each entity into a single group of scale in the Irish and UK markets.
Drogheda United to be acquired by Trivela Group
Deal Details: The board of Drogheda United has accepted an offer from Trivela Group to acquire the club. Deal details have not been disclosed.
Drogheda United is a League of Ireland Premier Division club. It is currently controlled by Drogheda United Members Club. It does not report turnover or EBITDA information.
Trivela Group is a US sports investment firm headquartered in Alabama. It also owns Walsall Football Club in the UK.
Advisers: None mentioned.
Renatus Comment: The acquisition of Drogheda United follows a recurring theme in recent times with Shelbourne, Dundalk and Cork City all having taken on investment. Despite attendance for League of Ireland games being up year-on-year as we highlighted last week and Ireland having secured rights to host games at Euro 2028, significant investment is still required in the domestic game in Ireland. Despite investment from overseas firms, Irish internationals including Gavin Bazunu, Seamus Coleman and James McClean have come together with the FAI to set up a pilot scheme aiming to increase the flow of young players into the professional game, but have also highlighted the need for state investment into similar schemes in order to promote the health of the domestic game in Ireland.
Source: Drogheda United Press Release
Folens acquires IICP College
Deal Details: Folens has acquired IICP College for an undisclosed sum.
Folens is a schoolbook publisher based in Dublin and founded in 1958. Founded by Albert and Juliette Folens, the business is in its third generation of family ownership, with Andrew Miller as Chief Executive Officer. The business does not report turnover or EBITDA information.
IICP College is a provider of accredited courses in psychotherapy, counselling and related fields. The business was owned by Marisa, Marcella and Patrick Finnerty. It does not report turnover or EBITDA information.
Advisers: None mentioned.
Renatus Comment: While traditionally an educational book publisher, acquisitions made by Folens over the past number of years have focused on providers of courses and training in the education and learning sector. This is its third acquisition, having acquired Hibernia College, the teacher education provider, and AccountancySchool.ie, the online accountancy training company. The underlying rationale for these acquisitions is for Folens to reduce its dependence on traditional publishing revenues.
Source: Sunday Times
DEAL UPDATES & OTHER NEWS
CityJet joins SARA regional aviation alliance
Deal Details: Irish airline CityJet has partnered with Spain’s Air Nostrum and seven other companies to create the new Strategic Alliance of Regional Airplanes (SARA). The alliance aims to provide regional aviation solutions to airlines across Europe. The current owners of Air Nostrum will hold 80% of the new holding company with CityJet’s shareholders owning the remaining 20%.
Advisors: Legal: Maples led by Will Darmody.
Telfer Limited, which owns bars Hogans and L’Gueuleton, is based in Dublin. The business is owned by Declan O’Regan.
In its financial year to May 2022, the business generated a turnover of c. €7.3m, an increase of 428.1% year-on-year. This converted to an EBITDA of c. €2.2m. EBITDA improvements can be attributed to pubs reopening post-Covid.
Significant post-EBITDA cash movements include working capital movement of c. €1.0m, the acquisition of tangible assets of c. €0.4m and repayment of loans of c. €0.7m. The business finished the year with a cash balance of c. €1.9m, an increase of 109.5% year-on-year.
The business employed an average of 102 people in FY22 at a total cost of c. €2.9m.
Who: Ground Wellbeing, a multi-award winning Spa Brand offering premium treatment and product support for real-world wellness issues, based in Cork.
What: The company has received €500k in investment from the EIIS Innovation fund, led by Kevin Canning.
Why: The funding will be used to accelerate the business’ hiring strategy and enhance its existing manufacturing capabilities.
Source:EIIS Innovation Fund Press Release
Who: AIB, one of Ireland’s leading commercial banks.
What: The company has raised €750m from the issuance of its fifth green bond.
Why: The funds will contribute to the financing of projects with clear environmental and climate action benefits while further strengthening the bank’s capital position.
Who:ProjectMark, an Irish-founded start-up that has developed an AI-powered CRM platform for the commercial construction industry.
What: The company has raised $3 million in seed financing, led by TenOneTen Ventures.
Why: The financing will be used to enhance its product offerings, expand the team, and scale its marketing and sales efforts.
Who: SkillsTrust, a Dublin-based company that leverages AI and expert communities to create realistic job-task simulations for employers.
What: The business has raised €1m in pre-seed funding.
Why: The funds will be used to scale operations.
Who: Old Oak, a whiskey start-up in Northern Ireland.
What: The company has received investment from Hollywood movie legend Jean-Claude Van Damme.
Why: The investment will be used to fund the ongoing expansion of the business.
Who: Belfast International Airport, the main airport for the city of Belfast.
What: The airport closed a new £100m debt raise, composed of a £70m commercial bank facility provided by AIB and Danske and a £30m institutional note from M&G.
Advisors: Debt Advisory: EY led by David Martin, Amit Dewan, Michael Armstrong and Caroline Ly.
Why: The funds will be used for a multi-year capital expenditure programme for the purposes of regulation, improvement of the airport terminal and airport capacity.
Who: Erapid, trading as EasyGo, Ireland’s largest private car charging network provider.
What: The company raised €30m in funding from Aviva Investors, with Rubicon Capital Advisors also increasing its stake in the business.
Why: The investment will lead to the creation of 60 jobs across operations, customer support and sales in Ireland.
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.