On the record

M&A reports on businesses seeking acquisitions, make disposals or to list on the markets in the coming months.

M&A reports on businesses seeking acquisitions, make disposals or to list on the markets in the coming months.

Ireland’s TRG boasts strong appetite for acquisitions

Irish pub and restaurant chain Thomas Read Group (TRG) has increased its firepower recently with a 60 million (£42 million) refinancing package provided by Ulster Bank.

Established in 1992, the Dublin bar group has strived to identify and address market demand for cutting-edge venues in Ireland’s vibrant capital. The additional funds will allow the TRG team to execute further on this strategy.

TRG’s financial director Allan Kennedy told M&A: “TRG plans to diversify into many areas of the service and hospitality industry. This can be achieved twofold: either by way of acquiring new sites to deploy the brand or the merger of multiple sites into the group as a quicker road to expansion. It would obviously depend on the conditions and the offer.

“TRG is currently a pub and restaurant group, but we will operate three hotels in the Republic by the end of 2007 and there are further plans for 2008. We are also looking at the UK, which we believe is ready for a more upmarket pub and restaurant offer.”

Connaught’s sixth sense

Connaught, the FTSE-listed provider of social housing maintenance and estate management services, has agreed to acquire National Britannia, a specialist provider of multiple health and safety compliance services, for £91 million.

The acquisition – Connaught’s sixth this year – is to be funded through a share issue expected to raise some £58 million, with the remainder funded through existing bank debt.

The amalgam will in fact create the first UK company with a fully-integrated compliance solution – a timely move considering the highly-attractive fragmented market for outsourced compliance services, which is estimated to be worth more than £4.6 billion per annum.

“We look to the future with great excitement. We now have a market-leading position in two fragmented and highly-attractive markets and are well positioned for continued strong growth, both organically and through acquisitions,” commented chairman Mark Tincknell.

Hasgrove has £10 million to play with

AIM-listed Hasgrove, the pan-European marketing and communications services group is on the acquisition trail. September saw the purchases of Odyssey Interactive and Pavilion Communication Services together with news of a new £10 million debt agreement with KBC Bank available for further acquisitions.

The purchase of Odyssey Interactive, an independent supplier of intranet solutions, went through for an estimated £3.7 million on 27 September. On the same day, Hasgrove announced the £9.9 million acquisition of Pavilion Communication Services together with its subsidiary, an independent digital marketing agency. The transactions appear to be part of Hasgrove’s commitment to expanding its digital marketing capability.

Rod Hyde, group chief executive, commented: “This has been a busy period for the group and we have made substantial progress towards implementing our strategy. In addition to making further important acquisitions, we have also made considerable investments in organic growth.”

Firstan SBO fuels appetite for growth

Firstan, a Cambridge-based packaging printer is on the lookout for acquisitions following a secondary buy-out backed by asset-backed lender KBC Business Capital.

As well as allowing the company to buy out Lloyds TSB’s share in the business and repay loan stock, the funds will be used by Firstan to finance acquisitions in the UK and possibly overseas.

Vendia spills the beans about its £4.5 million war chest

Vendia, the UK’s fourth largest hot beverage and snack vending company, has announced its intention to expand its reach across the UK with £4.5 million funding from Co-operative Bank’s Corporate Banking Centre in Birmingham. The funding will enable Vendia to invest in developing its business organically as well as seeking acquisitions in its target regions.

“Vendia was created through a buy-and-build strategy and in its early days grew significantly through acquisition,” Vendia chief executive officer Mike Potts said. “With our new funding in place, we are now again in a strong position to not only grow organically, but also through carefully targeted acquisitions in the regions identified for our next phase of expansion, namely the Birmingham, Bristol and Leeds areas.”

Co-operative Bank’s Steve Taylor added: “Over the last eight years, Vendia has firmly established its position in the UK vending market and, following a period of consolidation, this expansion funding will enable the company to enter a new phase and increase its market share.”

Speaking to M&A, Vendia chief financial officer Steve Rawlins, commented: “As the UK’s fourth largest company in the refreshment vending sector, our strategy going forward is to grow in size. This funding will enable us to invest in our already successful Café Joe range of fairtrade premium hot drinks. In addition to organic growth, we will make targeted acquisitions to increase our presence and we are looking forward to an exciting new phase in the development of our group.”

Ludorum sees big picture for capital raising

Ludorum, the media and entertainment investment vehicle, recently raised approximately £3.1 million from an array of investors, including VCTs.

The cash will be used to fund the next stage of the company’s growth. This includes completing the production of the first series of animated series Chuggington, for which Ludorum secured a carriage agreement with the BBC for the UK broadcast rights in September.

Plans to increase its internal infrastructure and marketing resources to exploit its intellectual property assets commercially should provide the company with a strong balance sheet, enabling it to protect its intellectual property, provide working capital and pursue appropriate acquisitions.

Marc Barber

Marc Barber

Marc was editor of GrowthBusiness from 2006 to 2010. He specialised in writing about entrepreneurs, private equity and venture capital, mid-market M&A, small caps and high-growth businesses.

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