Aalto Bio Reagents acquired by Biosynth Carbosynth, NFP acquires Simon Shirley Advisors, Granite Digital acquires Willows Consulting, and much more in our latest weekly newsletter.
Renatus Weekly M&A & Company Performance Private Equity Newsletter 29/05/2022
Please find below this week’s newsletter covering the latest M&A, company performance, fundraisings and executive moves.
THOUGHT OF THE WEEK
The evolution of Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) investing is very interesting and we have written about it previously. We are very conscious of it here in Renatus and we have an absolute desire over and above anything to always ‘do the right thing’
There is no doubt that the direction of travel is hugely positive from a company level and at an employee behavioural level. There is a marked behaviour change which should slow down the escalation of global warming and other positive non-carbon related ESG outcomes.
At a global fund management level, the past two weeks have shown that not everybody is on the one page as to the over simplistic view of allocating all capital into ESG and this creating a happy ever after fairy-tale.
Elon Musk kicked off the discussion slamming ESG as a ‘scam’ with Tesla not rating well on ESG indices and it being removed from S&P’s ESG Index.
Separately, the head of responsible investing at HSBC asset management said climate change was ‘not a financial risk we need to worry about’
A former US Vice President has said ESG ratings are ‘pernicious’
The two key factors are the ‘demand’ for investment in companies proven to be good ESG citizens versus the true bona fida population – the ‘supply’ and the quantification and measurement of those truly good ESG citizens.
The direction of travel is positive and it will take behavioural change to save the day. Asset allocation may keep some of these behaviours honest but expect a winding journey for ESG focused capital allocators.
Aalto Bio Reagents acquired by Biosynth Carbosynth
Deal Details: Swiss-headquartered Biosynth Carbosynth (Biosynth) has acquired Dublin-based Aalto Bio Regents (Aalto). The deal consideration was not disclosed.
Founded in 1978 by Peter and Aidan O’Boyle, Aalto is a leading developer and provider of biological raw materials to the in-vitro diagnostics industry and to research laboratories globally. The business was majority-owned by Philip Noone and Gerard Ryan prior to the sale.
Biosynth is a supplier of critical materials to the life science industry with global research, manufacturing, and distribution facilities. Headquartered in Staad, Switzerland, Biosynth Carbosynth is owned by KKR, Ampersand Capital Partners, and management. The business has staff in the United States, Switzerland, Slovakia, and China.
Advisers: None mentioned
Renatus Comment: In 2014, Philip Noone and a management group completed a management buy-in of Aalto, facilitating the retirement of Aalto’s founders. Since then, the business has gone from strength to strength, with the business being awarded the overall winner of the Small Firms Association National Small Business Awards 2022. Philip Noone was also previously a finalist in the EY Entrepreneur of the Year awards.
Aalto is an almost-fully export business and its customer base includes leading diagnostics and lifesciences companies, which means it should have fared better than most during the Covid pandemic. In fact, the business has been recognised for its leading position in test development for the diagnosis of many global diseases, including HIV and Covid-19.
Source: Aalto Bio Reagents Press Release
NFP acquires Simon Shirley Advisors
Deal Details: US-headquartered NFP has announced the acquisition of financial advisor Simon Shirley Advisors Limited (SSA). The deal consideration was not disclosed.
Based in Dublin, SSA is a boutique financial advisory firm, led by founder and CEO Simon Shirley. It advises on all aspects of employee benefits and pensions as well as providing personalised solutions for retirement, savings, investments, and family protection. SSA’s funds under advice reportedly amounted to over €180m prior to the transaction. The business reported a turnover of c. €1.2m in FY21 and employed c. 8 staff.
NFP is a leading property and casualty broker, benefits consultant, wealth manager, and retirement plan advisor with over 6,900 global employees. NFP is the 7th largest privately-owned broker, 5th largest benefits broker by global revenue, and 13th largest broker of US business according to Business Insurance.
Advisers: NFP: Legal: Cian O’Leary, Aonghas Keane, Jonathan O’Beirne and Zoe Boland in Flynn O’Driscoll Tax: Cormac Doyle in Crowe Ireland
Simon Shirley: Legal: Led by Bryan Sweeney and Colm Shalvey in JR Sweeney LLP Tax: Kate Prendiville in Baker Tilly
Renatus Comment: This is NFP’s fourth acquisition in the Irish market over the past two years, having previously acquired HMP Insurance and Pensions Advisors, Aiken Insurance Limited, and ReSure Corporate Brokers.
This acquisition appears to be a great result for founder Simon Shirley and his team. The entire SSA team is joining NFP, while Simon Shirley is taking the lead role in building NFP’s wealth management business in Ireland.
Source: NFP Press Release
Greencoat Renewables to acquire four windfarms
Deal Details: Greencoat Renewables has agreed to acquire a portfolio of four windfarms in France from Swiss renewable energy company, Axpo. Deal details have not been disclosed.
Greencoat Renewables PLC invests in, acquires, operates, and manages wind farms in France, Finland, Sweden, and Spain. The business has approximately €8.4bn under management. Greencoat Renewables is led by Bertrand Gautier and Paul O’Donnell.
Axpo Holding AG produces, trades in, and markets renewable energy in Europe, the United States, Asia, and internationally. The business is based in Switzerland. It had FY21 turnover of €5.4bn, which converted to an EBITDA of c. €826m.
Advisers: Greencoat Renewables: Deal Advisory: A J&E Davy team of Barry Murphy and Ronan Veale.
Axpo: None mentioned.
Renatus Comment: Following a very active 2021, Greencoat Renewables has carried this momentum into 2022, having already acquired wind farms in Spain and Germany in April. The business’ firepower to proceed with these acquisitions is being aided by a €447m recent funding round.
Source: Capital IQ
Granite Digital acquires Willows Consulting
Deal Details: Granite Digital has acquired Willows Consulting for an undisclosed sum.
Granite Digital, based in Cork, is a digital marketing and strategy agency. The business is owned by 8 shareholders, which include co-founders Seamus White, Rob Carpenter and Ger O’Shea. It is chaired by Alf Smiddy. The business had turnover of €7.3m in 2021.
Willows Consulting is an eCommerce web development company, based in Dublin. The business is owned by Sean Owens, Aine Williams and John Cahill. It does not report turnover or EBITDA information.
Advisers: None mentioned.
Renatus Comment: eCommerce focused businesses have benefited from a significant market size expansion as a result of Covid and have been the darlings of public markets until very recently. Fears of a recession, cost of living increases and a slowing growth rate in online shopping have cast a shadow over the sector over the past month. However challenged some frothy valuations may be, the reality is that it is a bigger market than pre-Covid and there will be plenty of money made in it.
Source: Irish Times
Design Partners acquired by PA Consulting
Deal Details: Wicklow-based Design Partners has been acquired by UK-headquartered PA Consulting. The deal consideration was not disclosed.
Design Partners is a product design and innovation agency, founded in 1984. The business was owned by Annette Stephens, Brian Stephens, Diarmuid MacMahon, and Trevor O’Reilly, who is the business’ CEO. Design Partners employed c. 37 staff in FY21.
Headquartered in London, PA Consulting Group is a professional services firm that works with public, private, and third-sector organisations. It was founded in 1943 by Ernest E. Butten, Tom H. Kirkham, and Dr. David Seymour. The business is led by current CEO Ken Toombs and employs c. 4,200 staff. The business reported FY21 revenue of c. £691.5m.
Advisers: Design Partners: Corporate Finance: A KPMG team led by David O’Sullivan alongside David Murphy and Maria Traynor.
Legal: LK Shields Solicitors provided legal advice led by Gerry Halpenny, Paul Dineen, Charlotte Lyons, Daniel Keegan, Elizabeth Mara, and Jane O’Grady.
RBK were general business advisors and auditors of Design Partners.
Renatus Comment: This acquisition is PA’s first since being acquired by Jacobs Engineering Group from Carlyle in November of 2020. Prior to this acquisition PA consulting was an extremely active acquirer, buying a total of seven companies since 2018.
It is great to see Irish companies at the start of the R&D product chain. Oftentimes some claim that there are more executors based in Ireland on the product value chain than creators. Design Partners are definitely creators.
Source: Design Partners Press Release
Aedifica acquires Craddock House nursing home
Deal Details: Aedifica has acquired Craddock House nursing home in Naas for a reported c. €11m.
Aedifica is a listed company specialising in investments in European healthcare real estate, particularly housing for seniors with care needs. The business has 583 properties with over 43,600 users.
Craddock House Nursing Home, based in Naas, is a modern, purpose-built care home. It accommodates up to 89 residents.
Advisers: A RBK team including Chris Ball provided corporate finance advice and tax advice on Craddock House.
Renatus Comment: Aedifica is near constant in our weekly newsletter. In Ireland in 2022 so far, the business has announced the acquisition of five nursing homes in May, three nursing homes in April, as well as plans to invest into the development of three care properties in March.
Source: Aedifica Press Release
Irish Life acquires stake in Multiply
Deal Details: Irish Life has acquired a significant minority stake in Multiply. The deal consideration was not disclosed.
Irish Life Group Ltd is a diversified business which has three primary divisions; Irish Life Assurance (turnover of c. €850m in its financial year to December 2020), Irish Life Financial Services (turnover of c. €226m) and Irish Life Health (turnover of c. €242m). The group reported (in Canadian dollars), earnings of $288m, an increase on $212m the prior year. It is led by its CEO Declan Bolger.
Multiply is a UK-based fintech which provides a digital advice service which helps individuals achieve personal financial goals. It includes a proprietary technology base which determines a person’s needs and offers advice based on that. The business was founded by Vivek Madlani and Mike Curtis.
Advisers: None mentioned.
Renatus Comment: Irish Life have been quite acquisitive in recent times. Since 2018, its acquisitions include Clearview Investment & Pensions, Invesco, City Life, Acumen & Trust, Conexim, Harvest Financial Services, and APT Workplace Pensions. They also backed a digital enabled intermediary, Vigo Health, in June of 2021.
The business has stated its intention to invest in technology so it would be no surprise to see more deals like the Multiply one in future.
Source: Sunday Independent
Auxilia Group created as a result of merger
Deal Details: The Auxilia Group has been created after The Grey Matters Network (GMn) and Auxilia Consultants merged.
Prior to the merger, Auxilia Consultants were primarily a consultancy business while GMn were primarily a contract placement business, filling interim and contract roles with experienced professionals. The business is based in Naas, Co. Kildare and intends to grow revenue four-fold over the next 5 years.
Auxilia Consultants was founded by Michael Broderick and Paul Ryan while GMn was founded by Mick Furlong, Tony Devine and Declan Hughes.
Advisers: None mentioned
Renatus Comment: A theme that will be familiar to many is the shortage of labour that is being experienced across many sectors. Any company that can alleviate this issue for businesses will surely be a valued partner.
Source: Auxlilia Group
Woodvale Construction Company Ltd is a chartered building company, based in Omagh, Co Tyrone. The buisness lists an investment trust linked to the Ewing family as a shareholder, along with William Scott and Robert Ewing.
In its financial year to June 2021, the business reported turnover of £30.6m, an increase of 14.4% year-on-year. This converted to an EBITDA of c. £2.1m, an increase of 66.3% year-on-year. The increased EBITDA figure figure is attributable to a marginally improved gross margin line, increased revenues, and a decrease in administrative expenses.
The business finished the year with a cash balance of c. £2.0m, an increase of c. £1.2m over the year. The business employed an average of 85 people at an annual cost of c. £3.0m.
Established in 1954 by the Fitzpatrick family, Monasterevin Motors Ltd is one of Kildare’s largest and oldest car dealerships. Monasterevin Motors is a family-run business specialising in new and used car sales, servicing, and parts.
The business reported an FY21 turnover of c. €19.1m which converted to an EBITDA of c. €1.1m, representing a 7.0% and 23.2% increase respectively. The business generated a net cash increase of c. €965k over the year and closed FY21 with a cash balance of c. €6.4m.
The business is owned entirely by Liam Fitzpatrick.
Who: Wellola, a Dublin-based patient portal provider for the healthcare industry. The business was founded in 2016 by Sonia Neary, Greg Martin, and Criostóir O Codlatáin Lachtna. It has three locations in Dublin, London, and Germany.
What: The business has raised c. €1m in funding from BVP.
Advisors: Wellola was advised by Eoghan Doyle and Hugo Grattirola from Philip Lee as well as Brian McDonald, Kevin O’Malley, and Rory Butler from Bay Advisory.
Why: The funding will go toward expanding its commercial team, technology and targeting the UK public health sector.
Who: Aramune Technologies, the Queens University Belfast spin-out developing a natural plant feed additive.
What: The business has raised £800k (€932k) in equity funding in a seed round backed by a syndicate of investors including Co-Fund NI, Qubis Innovation Fund and a local private investor.
Why: The funding will be used to help develop an industrial-scale manufacturing process for its product.
Who: Vault 365, an Irish backup, ransomware and data protection service.
What: The business has secured €500k in investment from Irish cybersecurity provider, Paradyn.
Why: The investment will help with the launch of Vault365’s new product along with the creation of five new jobs over the next 18 months.
Who: Dublin-based property technology and development business, Prop.ie, has raised financing. The business was founded by Kevin Sands in 2017. It aims to leverage technology to improve communication between property developers and buyers.
What: The business has raised a reported €10m in debt financing from Home Building Finance Ireland.
Why: It is reportedly using the investment to develop 46 properties in Drogheda to demonstrate the efficacy of its software.
Who: BNRG, an Irish-based renewables developer. The business is led by founder David Maguire.
What: The business is reportedly raising €115m of debt and equity. It is the first step in plans to raise €500m in total by 2025.
Why: The funds will be invested in developing Irish and US assets.
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.
The fall in the number of new companies registered in the first three months of the year versus the same period last year. 5,600 companies were registered between January and March. According to @VisionNetLtd
The increase in Russian imports to Ireland in March 2022 versus the same period last year, where €48m was spent. According to @CSOIreland
The increase in the size of the Irish workforce in the year to Q1 2022, surpassing 2.5m people, a rise of 275,000. According to @CSOIreland
The S&P Global PMI figure for May, compared to 57.6 in April. A figure greater than 50 indicates growth in the manufacturing sector, however, growth is declining month-on-month. According to @SPGlobal
The proportion of residential dwellings in Ireland which are less than 10km away from a remote work hub. Cork had the shortest average distance at 1.6km. According to @CSOIreland
The increase in the cost of diesel in Ireland since last year. According to @TheAAie
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Renatuswas 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:
Growth financing – both organic and acquisition growth financing