Regional Private Equity Activity

Private Equity Update

The first genuine month of summer in a few grey years saw BGF flex their muscles, Catalyst celebrate a record month, bathrooms become a hot sector and a successful IPO toast a return to pre-Lehman’s style M&A with a half-price case of Stella.

BGF completed two deals, with DC Advisory securing a £10m investment for printing business York Mailing, well known to NorthEdge. BGF made a similar investment in Leigh-based Better Bathrooms in return for a minority stake. Tom’s former colleagues acted on the sell-side.

Next up an on the hunt for some exposure to bathrooms was ISIS, but their new bed-fellow has an online angle. Newly re-branded Convex Capital gained their first significant PE tombstone by acting on the sell-side, with ISIS investing £8.5m of VCT money in the Coventry based business, BathEmpire. ISIS LP meanwhile completed a £22m investment in Nigel Frank International in return for a 35% stake. The Newcastle-based Microsoft Dynamics recruitment business was advised by UNW.

Making their first regional investments of the year were NVM and Darwin. NVM backed Lancashire-based furniture manufacturer Buoyant on an EV of £25m, investing £7m in the Catalyst-ran process. Darwin meanwhile favoured a more-tech focused dipping of the toe and backed Nottingham based Esendex, a B2B SMS services provider. Aquaa Partners advised on the sell-side.

The solitary exit in July came for ECI as they floated Conviviality Retail plc, formerly Bargain Booze ltd. A large number of champagne glasses could surely be heard clinking as the shares jumped 30% on the first day of trading, netting ECI a 4.5x return.

Outside of our criteria and across to the juggernauts and Vitruvian completed an £80m equity investment in Lytham-based strategic energy management business Inenco, whilst Carlyle completed an investment in Nottingham headquartered packaging business Chesapeake. At the smaller end of the scale the RGF completed an investment in specialist manufacturing business Cygnet and two management teams ploughed their own furrow (NewCall Telecom & Risc Group IT).