Please find below this week’s newsletter covering the latest M&A, company performance, fundraisings and executive moves.
One positive trend in a time when the economic news cycle is filled with relentless negativity is the decreasing cost of shipping. Shipping costs have been a continuous story since early 2020 and a cause of much angst for many businesses.
Over the past year, these prices have been reverting much closer to historical averages. In November of 2021, the price of shipping a 40ft container from Shanghai to Rotterdam was $14,062 while last week it was $3,845, according to Drewry, a UK-based advisor in the space. It was below $2,000 for much of 2019 before the pandemic.
It will be comforting for many to see shipping rates comes down and a welcome cost saving in a time where everything else appears to be impacted by inflation.
Reversion to the mean in container costs is encouraging as a standalone factor but should also provide hope that reversion to the mean can happen for other cost drivers that have experienced recent significant cost increases.
Endeavor Ireland are partnering with Phillip Lee to launch a 5-month programme for women entrepreneurs. The programme consists of ten one-to-one hour-long mentorship sessions from the Endeavor and Philip Lee networks, for each of the five selected participants.
Endeavor is an organisation established in 1997 by Linda Rottenberg which acts as a network to support, mentor and accelerate high-impact entrepreneurs around the world. The Irish arm of the organisation was established in 2019 and is run by Managing Director Rory Guinan. Current Irish network members include the founders of Cubic Telecom, Strong Roots, LearnUpon, Wayflyer, Gym+Coffee, XOCEAN and Keelvar.
Philip Lee is a leading corporate and commercial law firm, based in Dublin. They also have offices in Brussels, London and San Francisco.
Those eligible for this programme are female entrepreneurs who are working full time on their business and:
• Are based in Ireland, with a company operating in Ireland;
• Have a product-ready company that is generating profits (or with a clear plan to get there);
• Are aiming to raise funds in the next 12 months.
Quality mentorships and networks are crucial to the success of any entrepreneur looking to scale up their business. This is a super opportunity for any ambitious female entrepreneur to avail of invaluable advice and support, courtesy of two great organistaions. It is free to participate in and more information can be found here (endeavor.org/ireland/
Deal Details: DM Financial has acquired Solutional for an undisclosed amount.
DM Financial is a Limerick-based financial services provider that has operations in Ireland, Singapore, Cayman Islands, UK, and The Netherlands. The ownership consists of Stephen Doran, Ruairi McMahon, and Ian Doran. Synova, a private-equity firm co-founded by Irishman David Menton, acquired a majority stake in DM during 2021.The business did not report turnover or EBITDA information.
Solutional is a Dutch reporting and assurance firm that has c.30 staff and prepares over 30,000 financial and regulatory reports every year.
IBI Corporate Finance, led by David Lyons, KPMG and Pinsent Masons.
Renatus Comment: Ireland punches above its weight with the strength of its financial services sector. The combination of Ireland’s 12.5% corporation tax and a comprehensive set of double tax agreements with 62 countries, makes Ireland a highly tax efficient location for international financial service operations. According to Enterprise Ireland, 250 of the world’s leading financial services firms – including half of the world’s top 50 banks – have internationally focused operations in Ireland.
This is a fantastic breeding ground for businesses like DM, which began life primarily providing IFRS reporting to investment funds, and also for a host of other Irish SMEs like it.
Source: The Irish Times
Deal Details: Mediahuis Ireland has acquired Carzone, in a deal reportedly worth c. €30m.
Mediahuis Ireland, formerly Independent News & Media, is a print and digital media publisher that produces 12 weekly regional newspapers including the Sunday Independent, the Belfast Telegraph and the Sunday World. It also has a portfolio of three well-known digital marketplaces. Mediahuis Ireland became part of the privately-owned European media group, Mediahuis N.V., which is headquartered in Belgium in 2019. In FY21, the business had a turnover of c. €304.2m which converted to an EBITDA of over €26m,
Carzone is an automotive marketplace for retailers and consumers to buy and sell used cars in the Republic of Ireland. The business was founded in 1998 and was acquired from UK-based Auto Trader Group. It is headquartered in Dublin. In FY21, the business had turnover of c. €4.4m, which converted to an EBITDA of c. €3.1m.
Legal: Arthur Cox led by Cian McCourt and including Andrea Bowdren, Sergio dos Santos, Colm Honan, Patrick Horan, Colin Rooney, Isabel Cooke, Rosemarie Blake, David Kilty, Rachel Coyle, Brian O’Rourke and Conor Keegan.
Renatus Comment: Carzone.ie will integrate well with CarsIreland.ie and Cartell.ie, two of Mediahuis Ireland’s portfolio businesses also serving the Irish motor industry. Years ago, classified adverts made fortunes from this space and investments in these are somewhat filling the void left in classifieds from the shift to digital.
A report published by DoneDeal this week reported that prices for second-hand cars were up 67% in September this year compared with March 2020. In addition, the study has found that the annual rate of used car inflation sits at 21%. New cars sales here have started to recover in Ireland, over the 87 quarters from Q1 2021, the first three quarters of 2022 have ranked 22nd, 57th and 39th highest after Q2 2020 ranked 82nd.
The new car sales statistics are most striking in the UK. The number of new cars registered in the UK in Q2 2022 (the most recent data) was 382,661. Q2 2022 ranks as the 83rd worst quarter when looking back over the past 86 quarters since Q1 2001. It is only surpassed by Q2 2020, Q4 2021 and Q4 2008.
Source: The Irish Times
Deal Details: CubeMatch has acquired Claritaz Techlabs for an undisclosed amount. This acquisition will bring the joint employee count to over 400 and Claritaz Techlabs will rebrand to CubeMatch – Claritaz.
CubeMatch is a Dublin-based global change and transformation consultancy business specialising in Financial Services. Its clients span global financial institutions, including Bank of Ireland, AIB, Ulster Bank, Rabo Bank, ABN AMRO, BCM Global, Commerzbank, PTSB, Deutsche Bank, NatWest, BNP Paribas, Mizuho, and UBS. The business did not report turnover or EBITDA information. It is majority owned by Thomas Melville, Thomas Lane, Jacob Kalamparampil and Nicola Brannigan.
Claritaz Techlabs provides agile software development, digital transformation, and managed services in India. The business did not report turnover or EBITDA information.
Advisers: None Mentioned.
Renatus Comment: The technology sector continues to be a hotspot for Irish M&A activity. EY recently reported that Ireland’s Technology, Media, and Telecom (TMT) sector made up 63% of the total value of Irish M&A deals in the first four months of 2022. This shouldn’t come as a surprise given the strength of the tech sector that has been cultivated here.
Renatus’ Conor Mehigan recently penned a piece called “Irish Software – Competing on the World Stage”, which focuses on the key determinants that are enabling Irish software businesses to withstand market turbulence. You can read the full piece here: renatus.ie/irish-software-
Source: CubeMatch Press Release
Deal Details: Deutsche Entertainment Aktiengesellschaft (DEAG) is reported to have acquired a majority stake in Tickets.ie. Deal details have not been disclosed.
Tickets.ie is a Dublin-based ticketing company that handles tickets for thousands of music, arts, comedy, educational, family and sporting events annually. The business was founded in 2004 by John O’Neill who led the business as CEO. O’Neill will remain a shareholder and manager at Tickets.ie following the acquisition. The business does not report turnover or EBITDA information. It was reported in August of this year that the business was seeking a rescue scheme after being impacted by venue lockdowns during Covid.
DEAG is a European entertainment service company and live entertainment provider. The DEAG Group is present in 15 locations across Germany, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Ireland and Denmark. DEAG was founded by Peter L. H. Schwenkow in Berlin in 1978 and was publicly listed in 1999. In FY21, the business had turnover of c. €91m.
Advisers: None mentioned.
Renatus Comment: Tickets.ie previously stood as Ireland’s largest independent ticketing retailer prior to being in financial difficulty. The business faced a significant decline due to the hit experienced by the live events industry throughout the duration of the pandemic.
More recently, the industry has seen recovery this year with LiveNation reporting the sale of more than 100m concert tickets through August 2022, more than its entire 2019 sales.
Source: Irish Independent
Deal Details: Aircoach has acquired Airporter for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition will connect Derry to Belfast International Airport, Dublin Airport, and Dublin City Centre.
Aircoach is a private bus and coach operator based in Dublin that provides a range of coach services to and from Dublin City Centre and Dublin Airport. In FY 21, the business reported turnover of c. €3.7m and is owned by FirstGroup plc.
Airporter is a Derry-based business that operates bus services that connect Derry with Belfast’s two airports. The business did not report turnover or EBITDA information. The business was owned by Norma Smyth, Jennifer Mckeever and Niall Mckeever.
Legal: Philip Gilliland of Caldwell & Robinson.
Renatus Comment: Aircoach’s parent company, Firstgroup plc, shares have experienced a strong recovery since the Covid pandemic with its share price rising from a low of £31.90 in July 2020 to £103.40 as at the close on Friday.
Since Covid, Firstgroup has had a strategy to refocus and simplify the business. This is reflected in the business’ decision to sell three North America businesses recently which included First Student and First Transit, in March of 2021 and Greyhound Lines in October of 2021.
Adding Airporter to its portfolio appears to show Firstgroup focusing on deploying its capital and time to markets closer to home which it knows best.
Source: Belfast Telegraph
Deal Details: Version 1 has acquired Instinctive BI for an undisclosed sum.
Version 1 is an Irish company specialising in international management consulting, software asset management, software development and cloud computing. The business, which was founded in 1996 reported revenues of over €140m in 2020 and has offices in Dublin, Belfast, Cork, Edinburgh, Manchester, and London. Partners include Microsoft, Amazon, and Oracle.
Instinctive BI is a business intelligence and data solutions company established in Edinburgh in 2016. It was owned by Nicholas McFadden, Stephen Henry and Kelly Scanlon. It does not report revenue or turnover information.
Renatus Comment: This acquisition is the 14th that Version 1 has completed to date and follows the acquisition of Evoco in February this year. Version 1 was backed by private equity fund Volpi Capital in 2017 and has pursued an aggressive buy-and-build strategy since then.
Version 1 has made similar acquisitions of data analytics companies in recent years including Neueda in 2021 and Presidion in 2018. Both the volume and complexity of data available to organistaions is ever-increasing and in order to discern insights from this big data, it is crucial that organisations can process, manage, and analyse it effectively.
Source: Version 1 Press Release
Deal Details: Intelligo has been acquired by SD Worx for an undisclosed sum.
Intelligo is a Wicklow-based provider of HR & payroll software. It was established in 1996 and was owned by Padraig Gill and John Kellegher. It does not report revenue or EBITDA information.
SD Worx is a Belgium-based privately owned company that provides global payroll, HR and workforce management solutions. In FY21 it reported revenue of c. €858.1m which converted to EBITDA of c.€72.9m
Legal: Alan O’Driscoll and Deirdre Walsh of Flynn O’Driscoll LLP
Tax: Paul Moran of Twomey Moran
Corporate Finance: A Mazars team of John Bowe, Seán Damery and Damian Connaughton
Legal: DLA Piper team of Eanna Mellett, Kate Kinsella Tax: Declan Lavelle.
Renatus Comment: This deal is more evidence of large international players in the payroll/ HR services space targeting the Irish market for bolt-on acquisitions.
In May this year the largest player in the UK market, IRIS Software Group, acquired Dundalk-based Paycheck Plus, with HG Capital being amongst the investors in IRIS. Similarly, UK payroll provider Zellis Group, backed by Bain Capital, acquired Dublin-based employee experience firm Wrkit in January this year.
The industry is well-suited to consolidation and this is likely to continue to be an aim of private-equity backed companies in the sector. Interestingly, SD Worx announced its intention to sell a minority stake to outside investors back in February but no deal has yet materialised.
Source: SD Worx Press Release
Deal Details: Cork-based wastewater treatment technology firm SCFI has been acquired by Swiss-based Aquarion Group. Deal details were not disclosed but it has been reported that the deal was completed last year.
SCFI developed AquaCritox to help solve the disposal problems faced by wet waste generators and processors. The business was founded by John O’Regan who previously sold his wastewater-treatment process and manufacturing firm Envirotech to conglomerate DCC in 2001. SCFI does not report detailed financials.The ownership structure prior to the sale isn’t clear but in 2010 SCFI reportedly sold a 10pc stake Key Capital, which reportedly remains a shareholder, alongside Gilbert Little and David O’Regan.
Aquarion is a leading provider of advanced wastewater treatment and water purification systems, solutions and technologies for the Oil & Gas industry, the energy sector and other process industries. It has operations in Germany, Switzerland, Italy, USA, UK, Norway and Libya.
Advisers: None mentioned
Renatus Comment: The topic of wastewater treatment is an issue in Ireland. A recent report found that only half of Ireland’s sewage was treated to EU environmental standards in 2021, below the EU average of 90%. According to Irish Water, it will take 20 years of sustained multibillion-euro investment to get all plants up to the required standard.
Perhaps most worryingly, the report notes that Irish Water does not have clear plans in place to deal with a third of the priority areas where wastewater is adversely impacting the environment. The answer may be in an increasing reliance on the private sector and solutions such as SCFI’s reducing the volume of wastewater required to be treated by public infrastructure.
Source: Sunday Independent
Deal Details: As previously reported last month, AIB has acquired a minority stake in Johnson Hana. The investment is reported to be c. €10.5m.
Johnson Hana is a legal management provider that outsources services from large companies to SMEs to both reduce legal costs and help speed up transactions. In FY Dec 20, it reported a turnover of c. €1.8m. The investment will be used to help Johnson Hana scale up both in Ireland and internationally.
Financial & Tax Due Diligence: BDO led by Anthony O’Boyle & Vaughan Coetzee (financial) and Angela Fleming (tax)
Commercial Due Diligence: PWC led by Kieran Little
Legal: Eversheds Sutherland led by Gavin O’Flaherty and Maria O’Brien.
Corporate Finance: Goodbody led by John Flynn, Peter Golden and Peter Twomey.
Legal: Matheson led by Brian McCloskey
Source: Business Plus
Network International Cargo Group is a global distribution services and logistic solutions company based in Ballycoolin, Co. Dublin. It is owned by Edward Bowers, Anthony Gannon, Emmet Coulter, and Michael Herity.
In its financial year to December 2021 the business generated a turnover of c. €24.0m, an increase of 25.9% year-on-year. This converted to c. €2.3m EBITDA, an increase of 30.4%. The increase in EBITDA was driven by gross margin expansion and some operating leverage.
The business finished the year with a cash balance of c. €7.1m, a c. €2.5m increase on FY20. Significant post-EBITDA cash movements included a reduction in working capital (c. €446k), tax paid (c. €226k) and cash spent on hire purchase agreements (c. €54k).
The business incurred total employee remuneration costs of c. €5.1m during the year.
Who: Quintas Wealth Management Limited, a Cork-based Financial Services Provider along with Quintas Capital Limited.
What: Quintas is launching The EIIS Innovation Fund 2022.
Why: The fund provides investors with the opportunity to invest in growing Irish companies while availing of up to 40% income tax relief.
Source: Quintas Press Release
Who: ProMotion Rewards, a Trinity spin-out that rewards customers for uploading receipts and provides brands with customer insights.
What: The business has raised €725k in a seed funding round led by Laidlaw Scholars Ventures and included Delta Partners and Enterprise Ireland.
Why: The new funding will allow the business to continue building out the products, expand the team and grow its user base.
Source: Business Post
Who: Lumenstream, a CleanTech company that helps large energy consumers dramatically cut CO2 emissions and operational costs via the provision of sustainable LED lighting.
What: The business has raised a reported c. £400k in a seed funding round led by Techstart Ventures.
Why: This will allow Lumenstream to hire an additional 12 staff.
Source: Belfast Telegraph
Who: Scaleup Finance, a London-based company that provides provide CFO-as-a-service and a digital CXO cockpit to improve the financial management of growing businesses.
What: The company has raised $8m in a seed round. Dublin-based venture capital firm CircleRock Capital is among the investors taking part in the round.
Why: The funding will help the company as it continues its rapid growth plan.
Source: CircleRock Capital LinkedIn
Who: Everyangle, an Irish start-up which utilises customers’ CCTV cameras and computer vision applications to make sense of complex visual data, and transform it into crystal clear, actionable insights without the need for human review. The business was founded by David Owens in 2019.
What: The business has reportedly raised €2.7 million. The round was co-led by Sure Valley Ventures, Act Venture Capital and Furthr VC (formerly DBIC Ventures) and with participation from Enterprise Ireland.
Advisors: Baker Tilly, led by Greg Hogan, acted as lead corporate finance advisors to Everyangle. Baker Tilly also provided tax advice with Elaine McGrath of Reddy Charlton LLP providing legal advice.
Why: The funding will reportedly be used to help accelerate its expansion into international markets. It is also looking to double staff numbers with hires in areas that include roles in machine learning, data science, software engineering, product management and sales.
Source: Business Post
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 year-on-year increase in the demand for gas as of September 2022. There was an 11% decrease in the demand for gas in September compared to August. Gas generated 55% of Ireland’s overall electricity in September. According to @GasNetIrl
The number of passengers Ryanair carried in September. This is a 13% increase on pre-pandemic levels and it was Ryanair’s third busiest month ever recorded. @Ryanair
The year-on-year decrease in residential housing commencement notices as of September 2022. The department received 2,211 construction commencement notices during September, bringing the running 12-month measure to 27,417. According to @DeptHousingIRL
The tonnes of merchandise Irish ports handled in the second quarter of 2022. According to @CSO
The latest increase in European Central Bank interest rates. According to @RTEbusiness
The year-on-year decrease in Irish retail sales as of September 2022, the biggest monthly drop in nine months. According to @CSOIreland
The average increase in private rental costs in the nine years to last year. Average rent in Ireland rose from €589 to €1,084 per month between 2012 and 2021. According to @ESRIDublin
The estimated rise in inflation to have hit in October, up from 8.6% in September. According to @CSOIreland
The year-on-year increase in new Irish home completions in the third quarter of this year when compared to the same time last year. Over the first three quarters of 2022, new home completions reached 20,807.
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