Record year for Dow Schofield Watts as deals tally soars

James Dow

Independent advisory firm Dow Schofield Watts is celebrating another record year, with a 38% rise in the volume of deals it advised on.

The Daresbury, Cheshire-based firm’s corporate finance and transaction services teams advised on 58 deals worth £839m in 2017, compared to 42 deals worth more than £773m in the previous year.

During the year Dow Schofield Watts also launched its own international network of corporate finance advisers to help clients make the most of global business opportunities.

Pangea M&A now has representatives in 12 countries across North America, Europe and Australia.

Meanwhile, Dow Schofield Watts Angels, the new angel network it launched in summer to boost investment in the Northern technology firms, has attracted over 50 potential investors and applications from 137 companies and is close to completing its first deals, while firm’s private equity arm, PHD Equity Partners, stepped up its activity by completing four investments.

Dow Schofield Watts says that UK businesses have attracted strong interest from international buyers throughout 2017 and expects this to continue into 2018.

During 2017, it advised Netherlands-based Boels Rental on the acquisition of Manchester-based Supply UK Group, a national tool hire business, and it advised specialty chemicals business Melrob Group Holdings on its sale to Nordmann, Rassmann GmbH (NRC).

The North West team arranged the simultaneous buyout and immediate merger of Bollington Insurance Brokers and Wilsons Insurance Brokers in a deal which was backed by Inflexion Private Equity and created one of the UK’s leading independent insurance brokers.

Meanwhile, Dow Schofield Watts has also seen growing demand from the tech sector.

The firm advised hosting provider UKFast on its acquisition of cloud and cyber security services provider Secure Information Assurance (S-IA), and Wavenet on the acquisition of Warrington-based Talk Internet.

The team acted for NVM Private Equity in the MBO of Cheshire-based Thyson Technology; and YFM Equity Partners on its £9m investment in telecoms firm 4net Technologies. It also advised Manchester-based Hello Soda, the global text and big data analytics service, on its recent £5.5m fundraising.

During the year PHD Equity Partners acquired Lancashire-based hardware supplier Olympic Fixings and Wigan-based automotive adhesives and sealants manufacturer Hylomar.

It also made a signficiant investment in arts supplies business Teaching Art, which has premises in Manchester and Nottinghamshire and which runs the world’s largest arts club, the SAA, and subsequently acquired ArtGallery (UK), an online gallery operator, in a bolt-on acquisition.

James Dow, founding partner of Dow Schofield Watts, said the firm had bucked the trend.

“Despite lower levels of deals activity in the market overall during 2017, we have significantly increased the volume and value of deals we advised on for the second year in a row,” he said.

“We have also continued to expand our network with the launch of initiatives such as Pangea M&A and Dow Schofield Watts Angels to open up new opportunities for clients. These latest figures underline our position as the leading independent mid-market advisory firm in the North.”

Ed Brentnall, joint head of the transaction services team, added: “2017 was our strongest performing year for DSW Transaction Services across the North.

“We successfully increased our team size, grew our client base and received recognition of the quality of our work with a range of industry awards.

“In addition to providing due diligence for those making acquisitions, we are increasingly providing advice to vendors; something we see partially as a market trend, but also further acknowledgement of DSW’s expertise.”

Andy Dodd, of PHD Equity Partners, said: “2017 has been a great year for new investment for PHD, a trend that we hope to continue during 2018. We expect to make two or three further investments in the first half, with a view to raising PHD’s third buyout fund later in the year.”

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