Ekco acquires Ward Solutions, Mail Metrics makes two acquisitions, Waterland acquires majority stake in Writech, Spirable is acquired by Genius Sports, ESB acquires So Energy and much more in this weeks Renatus Private Equity weekly M&A newsletter.
Renatus Weekly M&A & Company Performance Private Equity Newsletter 29/08/2021
Please find below this week’s newsletter covering the latest M&A, company performance, fundraisings and executive moves.
Ekco, founded by Eoin Blacklock and Jonathan Crowe, is a cloud-solutions provider based in Malahide, Co Dublin.
Ward Solutions is one of the most well-established, and well-respected information security consultancies in Ireland. Founded 22 years ago, Ward employs 80 people.
Ekco also announced a €20m equity fundraise which strengthened the balance sheet to pursue deals like this.
Advisers: Ekco received legal advice from internal general counsel Niall McCooey and a Byrne Wallace LLP team of Gillian O’Shaughnessy, Ronan Dodd, Jonathan Lynch and Bianca McLaughlin.
Ward Solutions shareholders received legal advice from Alan O’Driscoll, Julian Cunningham, Jonathan O’Beirne and Deirdre Walsh of Flynn O’Driscoll LLP.
IBI Corporate Finance advised on the fundraise.
Renatus Comment: Ward Solutions will significantly strengthen Ekco’s cybersecurity offering which is timely given the current focus on cybersecurity after recent attacks including the breach of the HSE systems earlier this year. Ward Solutions was founded by Pat Larkin and Paul Hogan.
This is Ekco’s 14th acquisition by the highly experienced team. Eoin Blacklock and Jonathan Crowe previously sold the online backup company Keep It Safe, to J2 Global, a NASDAQ listed company. During their time at J2 Global they completed c. 50 M&A deals before founding Ekco (Formerly Internet Corp). We expect to see many more acquisitions following Ekco’s recent €20m fundraise.
Mail Metrics makes two acquisitions
Deal Details:Mail Metrics has acquired a majority share in its long-term commercial partner Persona and has fully acquired Forth Communication. The financial details of the deal were not disclosed.
One of Ireland’s leading specialists in outsourced customer communications, Mail Metrics specialises in helping companies to digitally transform their customer correspondence, helping companies to go paperless.
Forth Communication, with operations in Northern Ireland and Edinburgh, is a leading provider of technology led, people driven, integrated communications solutions that delivers data and insights to help clients engage with their customers.
Persona, based in Dublin is a provider of secure printing and document management solutions to companies in the financial services and government sectors.
Mail Metrics is backed by Beach Point Capital.
Advisers: Mail Metrics John Hannon and John Lacy from FinRes provided fundraising and corporate finance advice. Gavin O’Flaherty and Joseph De Paor from Eversheds Sutherland provided legal advice. David Shanahan and Karen Clarke from Deloitte provided Tax and corporate Structuring advice. Marcus Purcell, Zia Salam Kayani Alex Waters from EY provided financial DD.
Forth Communication: Raymond Duddy from Davidson McDonnell provide legal advice and Adrian Patton from ASM Chartered Accountants provided financial advice.
Persona: Joe McVeigh from BHSM provided legal advice.
Renatus Comment: The two deals are expected to add €12m in annual recurring revenue and increase headcount to 100 people across four countries. Nick Keegan launched Mail Metrics, a digital post room software solution in 2016 with RSA as Mail Metrics first client. Since then, Mail Metrics has been providing outsourcing and digital transformation services for customer communications to its clients.
Persona has been a long term partner of Mail Metrics and this acquisition solidifies Mail Metrics position in the Irish market and provides a platform to expand into the UK.
Source: Mail Metrics
Waterland acquires majority stake in Writech
Deal Details: Writech, a Westmeath-based fire-protection company, has secured significant new investment from Waterland Private Equity.
Writech, founded in 1981 by Mary and Thomas Wright before sons Ted and Alan took over in 2008, designs, manufactures, installs and services the systems across a range of sectors including data centres, life sciences, logistics, retail, office and food and beverage.
Waterland, founded in 1991, is an independent international private equity investment group. It currently manages over €9bn of investor commitments.
Advisers: Waterland: David Ryan, Laoise O’Malley, Gbemi Fowora , Aoife Brannigan and Julian Cunningham of Flynn O’Driscoll acted on the legals. Dara Kelly & Vic Angley of Grant Thornton provided Financial and Tax support. Benchmark sourced the deal and acted as the lead advisor.
Writech: Eversheds Sutherland team was led by: Enda Newton and included Emer Shelly, Jonathan Ennis, Robert Deve, Michelle Stewart, Ann Kirwan, Darragh Blake, Bronagh McAuliffe and Lorcan Keenan.
Renatus Comment: For the year ended June 2020, Writech had a turnover in excess of €15m. The company started off selling simple fire sprinkling systems and today offers complete fire system design and consultancy services to blue chip companies in the areas of pharma, retail and data centres. Writech has offices in Ireland, England and the Middle East. Writech looks like another company who has delivered for global customers in Ireland and has potential to follow them around the world on its next chapter.
Source: Irish Times
Spirable is acquired by Genius Sports
Deal Details: Spirable, an Irish-founded creative performance platform, has been acquired by NYSE-listed Genius Sports for undisclosed sum.
Spirable, based in London, was founded by Cork brothers Gar and Dave O’Meara. It works with hundreds of leading brands across 50 countries and is a Facebook, Twitter, and Snap Marketing Partner. Spirable’s SaaS platform allows brands, agencies and rights holders to create, automate and optimize highly personalized content.
Genius Sports is the official data, technology and commercial partner to over 400 sports organizations globally that powers the global ecosystem connecting sports, betting and media.
Advisers: Conor Sheahan, Becky Gordon, Gavin Pitcher and David Regan of CKS Finance advised the founders of Spirable.
Renatus Comment: The company raised £1.25 million in funding from investors including Dublin and London-based Front Ventures in 2018 and Series A of £6m in 2019 which was led by Smedvig Capital.
Since it’s launch, Spirable has created and distributed over 100m personalised videos in over 50 countries, for some of the world’s largest brands including Johnson & Johnson, Domino’s and Vodafone.
Genius Sports is a NYSE listed technology company with a market cap in excess of $3.4bn.
Source: Business Wire
MML invests in Natural World Products
Deal Details: MML Growth Capital Partners Ireland (MML) has announced a £20m (c. €23m) investment into Natural World Products Limited (NWP). The deal, which sees MML as the largest single equity holder, includes investment by 57 Stars.
Natural World Products is the largest recycler of household organic waste on the island of Ireland. It manages over 250,000 tonnes of organics annually across Ireland, producing high-quality, peat-free organic compost with significant benefits for soil health and carbon sequestration.
Prior to the transaction NWP was owned by Colm Warren, Cresent Capital, David McKee and Ian Harvey.
For the year ending December 2019, Natural World Products generated £15.5m of revenue and £4.5m of EBITDA.
Advisers: Tughans acted as legal advisers to MML. EY advised the shareholders of NWP. Mills Selig acted for NWP shareholders. HNH provided financial and tax due diligence and Roland Berger provided commercial due diligence.
Renatus Comment: As part of the deal, all of the existing shareholders apart from Colm Warren will exit the business.
On the recent Renatus Podcast (link to podcast), AMCS founder Jimmy Martin said there is no such thing as waste and everything is a resource and the circular economy is about ensuring that every resource can be re used. Natural World Products is a key player in the circular economy and has developed long term recycling infrastructure to enable the conversion of organic waste into compost.
Source: MML Press Release
Coverys acquires majority share of Brady Insurance
Deal Details: Joseph G Brady Insurance has announced that they have sold a 51% stake of their growing business to Coverys European Holdings (CEH), an agency platform and network specialising in European markets. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.
Brady Insurance was founded in 1959 by Joe and Kathleen Brady. Brady is one of Ireland’s leading & longest established firms and operate a retail brokerage, an insurance underwriting agency and are a Lloyd’s coverholder.
Coverys European Holdings Limited (CEH) invests in specialty managing general agencies (MGAs) across continental Europe, Ireland and the United Kingdom.
Advisers: RBK Chartered Accountants and Flynn O’Driscoll LLP acted for Brady Insurance on the transaction.
Renatus Comment: The company will continue to be led by Jane Brady, who has served as managing director since June 2005. The acquisition of Brady Insurance is the fourth since the inception of the CEH network in January 2020, following previous acquisitions of the AEC Wholesale Group, Bridge Insurance Brokers, and Gava Underwriting.
Source: Brady Insurance
ESB acquires So Energy
Deal Details: ESB has acquired majority shareholding in UK energy retailer So Energy Limited. Financial consideration of the deal was not disclosed.
So Energy is an award-winning UK green energy retailer based in Chiswick, London. It was founded in 2015 by Simon Oscroft and Charlie Davies, both former Macquarie energy traders, as a disruptive challenger in the UK’s energy retail market.
The merger of So Energy and ESB Energy (ESB’s UK retail brand) will result in a business serving more than 300,000 customers.
For the year ended March 20, So Energy generated £202m of turnover and £3.4m of EBITDA.
Advisers: EY provided financial and tax diligence services to ESB. EY Financial DD: team Marcus Purcell, James McCarthy and Kelvin Cummins EY tax DD: Graham Wright, David French and Julia Redman
Renatus Comment: In 2020, ESB (through Electric Ireland) had a 34% share of electricity supply in the all island market with 1.5m customers. Given its market share in Ireland, the UK is the next logical market to focus on growth and ESB is no stranger to this market having operated in the UK for nearly 30 years, investing more than €2 billion in generation assets including wind and solar while also providing EV charging infrastructure in London, Coventry and Birmingham. Source: ESB
Galetech assumes majority control of Optinenergy
Deal Details: Galetech, the Irish renewable energy firm, has assumed majority control of Optinenergy, a wind turbine maintenance provider, after it bought out the next largest shareholder in the company.
The Cavan-based group said it had acquired the 38 per cent stake in Optinenergy held by BVP Investments, a venture capital firm that first invested in Optinenergy in 2016. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The group employs 110 people and recorded annual sales of €17 million last year.
Advisers: None mentioned
Renatus Comment: Founded in 2007, Optinenergy provides maintenance services on older generation wind farms. The company’s typical customers are operators of wind farms that are 7-12 years old. When companies develop new wind farms, they are generally locked into maintenance contracts with the turbine manufacturers for the first few years. According to Wind Energy Ireland there are just under 400 wind farms and 5,585 MW of installed capacity on the island of Ireland. As the market matures Optinenergy is well placed for growth.
Source: Sunday Business Post
DEAL UPDATES & OTHER NEWS
Arachas’ acquisition of Hooper Dolan is cleared by CCPC
Deal Details: Regulatory watchdog CCPC has approved the proposed acquisition of certain companies in the Hooper Dolan Group by Arachas Bidco Designated Activity Company.
Arachas Bidco Designated Activity Company distributes commercial and personal insurance products through its retail and wholesale channels predominantly to customers located in Ireland.
Bon Secours and Alliance Medical joint acquisition of Barringtons gets CCPC approval
Deal Details: Competition and Consumer Protection Commission has cleared the proposed acquisition of Barringtons MRI Limited by Bon Secours Health Systems CLG and Alliance Medical Diagnostic Imaging Limited.
Bon Secours is the largest provider of private healthcare services in the State and operates private hospitals in Cork, Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Tralee.
Alliance Medical is a leading provider of diagnostic imaging across Europe.
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.
The National Chemical Company Limited is one of Ireland’s leading supplier and distributor of a comprehensive range of chemicals, food ingredients and polymer materials.
In its financial year to December 2020, the business reported revenue of c. €49.9m (an increase of 15.6% YoY) which converted to EBITDA of c. €2.5m (an increase of 74.8%). The business trades globally, with c. 73% of revenue coming from Ireland, 25% from Europe and 2% coming from the rest of the world.
The National Chemical Company Limited is owned by Alan Looney, Jo Looney, Kieran Looney, Linda Golden and Barbara Whyte. The business employed an average of 33 people at a cost of c. €4.9m.
Glanmire Supermarkets Limited operates a retail supermarket within the SuperValu chain at Crestfield Centre, Glanmire, Co. Cork.
In its financial year to December 2020, the business reported revnue of c. €32.7m (an increase of 21.1% YoY) which converted to EBITDA of c. €3.2m (an increase of 53.4% YoY). Cash on hand increased by c. €1.8m during the year with fixed asset purchases of c. €518k being one of the most significant uses of cash.
Galnmire Supermarkets Limited is owned by Diane and WIlliam Ryan. The business employed an average of 217 people during the year at a cost of c. €3.8m.
What: $90m (€76.4m) funding brings the total investment in the company to $114m.
Why: The financing will be used to accelerate development of its platform and to increase staff numbers as it looks to deal with a surge in demand for mental health solutions, arising in part from the Covid crisis.
Who: Ambisense, an Irish IoT and AI analytics business focussed on monitoring environmental risks.
What: €3m investment round was led by growth capital investor BGF and is supported by existing investors including Sure Valley, Atlantic Bridge and Enterprise Ireland. The company has previously raised €1m and €1.1m in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
Why: This funding will enable Ambisense to double-down on technology and product development strategy and scale its commercial offering to meet rising customer demand across both existing and new verticals.
Advisers: A ReganWall team of Kieran Regan and Sarah Connolly advised Ambisense on the transaction.
What: The company is expecting to raise €2m which will bring the total funds raised to €2.5m. Previous backers include the team behind computer vision technology company Movidius, and retail tech expert Charles Bibby, who set up Pointy with Mark Cummins.
Why: The additional funding is expected to kickstart Glimpse’s push to raise its valuation and eventually target the US market, a plan that was previously put on hold as the Covid-19 pandemic caused a shutdown of non-essential retailers in various markets.
Who:UX Design Institute, which is creating the next generation of properly trained product design engineers. The number of UX design jobs in Ireland has more than trebled in the past five years.
What: UX Design Institute has raised funds from Former Citibank boss Aidan Brady and Niall Anderton, who runs Circle K’s Irish and central European operations. Other backers include former Commerzbank Ireland boss and Intesa Sanpaolo director John Bowden, and Whatclinic chairman and serial investor Paul McKeon.
Why: The specific use of the funds was not disclosed.
What: Swiss Re reinsurance boss Moses Ojeisekhoba and Peter Ruggiero, Moore Capital hedge fund trader, have emerged as investors.
Why: The specific use of the funds was not disclosed.
EXECUTIVE AND BOARD APPOINTMENTS
We in Renatus believe that more important than the deals are the people and we have teamed up with leaders in this field Korn Ferry to provide you with details of key recent executive and board level appointments.
At its peak in May of last year, the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (“PUP”) sustained as many as 605,000 people across all sorts of sectors and in total more than 900,000 have received at least one payment at some point over the last 18 months. This week there were still 150,000 people in receipt of the PUP. It was expected that from September the rates would start reducing until they fall in line with standard job seeker welfare rates in February.
Anecdotally employers claim there is a chronic shortage of workers in a range of traditional low pay sectors, like hospitality, retail and personal care. It is difficult to reconcile the shortage of labour with the amount continuing to get the PUP, leaving the government in a tricky situation as continuing the payment would add to the Covid-19 bill and may impact the ability of businesses to attract staff as the economy continues to reopen.
The year-on-year decrease in the Irish wholesale price index for July 2021, according to @CSOIreland
The KBC Bank Ireland’s consumer sentiment index for August 2021, an increase from July reading of 84.9, according to @IrishTimesBiz
5.2% & 8.1%
The year-on-year increase in the Irish retail volume and value indices, respectively, for July 2021. The most notable changes were in Department Stores (+16.7%) and Other Retail Sales (-13.8%), according to @CSO
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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