North West Deal Review – June 2020

Paul Jones

By Paul Jones, Partner at Clearwater International

For many in the deals market, June was significant in that it was the month offices started to open back up, dust was blown off WIP and the odd face-to-face meeting took place.

The intense months of lockdown which has been characterised by an all hands to the pump mentality and land grab of liquidity has evolved into a more strategic period of reflection and planning for the future with a period of corporate restructuring set to follow.

The well-publicised fall into administration of Intu, owner of the Trafford Centre, was further evidence of the fall-out from COVID-19 and that the structural change within the retail market has much further to go.

Intu joined a long list of some of the North West’s largest employers announcing large scale redundancies covering the aerospace, automotive and transport sectors.

But June also showed signs that the deals market was starting to emerge from its COVID hibernation with NW investors and advisers completing a variety of deals, both inside the region and further afield.

The NW team of Livingbridge closed two deals in Ireland.

The first, an investment into TitanHQ, a cloud security vendor which provides advanced web filtering, email security and email archiving solutions to more than 8,500 businesses and 2,500 managed service providers (MSPs) across 150 countries.

This was followed by investment into Chill Insurance, one of Ireland’s leading insurance and financial services groups.

Inflexion’s Manchester team was also involved in the carve-out of Rosemont Pharmaceuticals which once again found itself in private equity hands following the decision of US Perrigo to divest.

Inflexion, BGF and Praetura also completed development capital deals, an area of the market expected to remain strong over the coming 12 months.

Inflexion’s investment into Manchester-based Lavatech, a legal communication app used by over 40 legal practices, will be used to help double the number of law firms it supports over the coming year.

BGF took a stake in Manchester-based ROI, an innovative lead generation business which rents websites to customers to help drive their sales activity.
And Praetura, alongside Deepbridge and investors from the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, led a round of venture funding into Liverpool Chirochem, a developer and manufacturer of small molecules used in the pharma and biopharma sectors.

Perhaps as significantly June also represented a watershed for many deals which had been paused when COVID-19 first struck.

It has become clear that certain sectors have weathered the COVID storm incredibly well and these processes have either recommenced or have been slated for a late Summer start.

Assets within life sciences, digital/tech, critical infrastructure maintenance to name but three are top of the shopping list for many funds.