Boom time for big deals in South East Midlands

14 August 2014

There was a veritable boom in deal activity across the South East Midlands in July 2014, with no fewer than ten transactions cleared for take-off.


Chargemaster secures £3 million investment

In the venture capital space, Chargemaster Plc of Luton, which develops and manufactures electric car charging point products, secured a £3m investment from private equity house Beringea. The funding will be used to strengthen Chargemaster’s UK stronghold as well as fuel its European growth plans.

Founded in 2008, Chargemaster has rapidly grown to become the largest supplier of electric vehicle equipment in the UK, with more than 10,000 public and commercial charging points installed across the country. It also has a further 4,000 charging points in mainland Europe.


Temperature rises at Softbox

Great Point Partners, a Greenwich-based investment firm that specialises in deals in the healthcare sector has acquired an undisclosed stake in Aylesbury-based Softbox Systems which designs and manufactures temperature-controlled packaging systems for transporting time and temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals. The deal took the form of a growth recapitalisation transaction, with additional funds secured from Clydesdale Bank.

Softbox – founded in 1995 – aims to address the increasing focus on temperature-controlled packaging by the biopharmaceutical industry and global regulatory bodies. It currently supplies a line of packaging solutions, including PolyBox, TempCell and SilverPod, and currently serves approximately 50% of all pharmaceutical companies globally. Softbox is headquartered in Buckinghamshire and has offices in the US, India, Singapore, and Australia.


SLR Management makes South African acquisition

Staying with Aylesbury, SLR Management Ltd, which provides environmental science and engineering consultancy services – a portfolio company of private equity house 3i – has acquired CCA Environmental.

CCA is headquartered in Cape Town, South Africa, and is an environmental consultancy services business, specialising in environmental management plans. It also provides environmental impact assessment surveys to advise clients on the creation of new offshore oil and gas fields. Its clients include Shell, Total, Exxon, Anadarko, Tullow and Cairn.


Law firms get together

Meanwhile, in the legal services sector, HCB Solicitors Ltd of Solihull has merged with Park Woodfine Heald Mellow of Bedford which specialises in commercial, family, property, personal injury, medical accident and charity law, as well as wills, trusts and probate law. The new business will be known as HCB Park Woodfine.


Yellows start season with new stakeholder

In the sports arena, Alycidon Technologies Ltd, a company controlled by the private investor Darryl Eales, acquired an undisclosed minority stake in Oxford United Football Club Ltd. Oxford United is a subsidiary of holding company Woodstock Partners Ltd, located in Milton Keynes. According to press reports, the stake acquired is between 33%-50%.


Share Placements and Buy-outs

In the public markets, Bicester-based Hardide Plc, a producer of a unique ultra-hard abrasion and chemically-resistant tungsten carbide coating for use with steel and other alloys, raised £2.7m via a placing of 167,875,000 new ordinary shares at 1.6p per share. The funds will be used for investment in additional capacity in the UK and a new facility in the US. Admission occurred on 15th August 2014.

In another share placement, London & St Lawrence Investment Company Plc, headquartered in Milton Keynes, which operates as an investment trust fund, raised £839,250 via a placing of 225,000 ordinary shares at 373p per share.

There was buyout activity in the region too, with Steve Thomas – the former head of the 75-strong Luminar nightclub chain – acquiring No Saints Group Ltd, based in Milton Keynes, which operates licensed bars and clubs, from administration.

Thomas is aiming to re-build the empire he created with Luminar- a business that previously had 75 nightclubs on its books, but folded in 2011.


Lift Off at Luton Airport

Finally, in what has to be the most notable announcement in July, the company that owns Luton Airport is gearing up for a £7bn flotation, in a deal that would be the largest IPO of the year so far.

Aena Aeropuertos, the Spanish state-backed airports operator, has appointed a host of investment banks – Goldman Sachs, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Santander and BBVA – to advise on the flotation, and intends to sell approximately 50% of the company to new institutional shareholders.