May update: The latest business deals from the South East Midlands

16 June 2015

There were 11 corporate finance-related transactions involving businesses operating from the South East Midlands region in May, with the Real Estate industry making a particularly strong showing for the month.

Schroder Real Estate Investment Trust Ltd, a Channel Islands-based investor in commercial property, acquired the freehold in the Bedford-based St John’s Retail Park for £31.8m.

Secondly, Palace Capital Plc, a London-based commercial real estate company, signed an agreement to acquire O&H Northampton Ltd, a Northampton-based firm that specialises in estates management, property development, land ownership and letting of property, for £20.7m. Palace Capital will fund the acquisition through the placing of 5.5 million new ordinary shares at a price of 360 pence per share, with the aim of raising £19.8m.

Meanwhile, Rodenhurst Estates Ltd, a subsidiary of real estate investment trust Highcroft Investments Plc, located in Kidlington, Oxfordshire, acquired BL (Wisbech) Ltd as well as its subsidiary, Belgrave Land (Wisbech) Ltd. The two target companies together own the 56,000 sq ft Belgrave Retail Park. The value of the deal is £8.5m.

Underwoods LLP, a Northampton-based provider of property consulting and surveying services, was snapped up by Countrywide Plc, the national residential estate agent chain, for an undisclosed sum.

One significant transaction in the Business Services sector in May saw Milton Keynes business Smart Moves Recruitment Ltd acquired by international recruitment business, Antal International Ltd. Antal operates a network of more than 120 offices in 30 countries.

There were also two notable deals in the Manufacturing sector, both carrying significant international elements.

Firstly, Par-Pak Europe Ltd, the UK division of the Waddington Group, acquired Deltaform Ltd and its subsidiary Chiltern Thermoforming. Headquartered in Milton Keynes, Par-Pak Europe Ltd manufactures plastic thermoformed packaging products, including containers and trays for the food and industrial products sector. Immediate plans for the future are to develop new product lines and move into new geographical markets.

Secondly, Antalis International SAS, a France-based paper-manufacturing firm, acquired two packaging firms: Donington Packaging Supplies Ltd, registered in Northampton, a supplier of packaging materials to the food processing and produce industries, and 1st Class Packaging, also in Northampton. Following the acquisitions, all employees of both businesses have been retained.

In the Energy space, Associated British Foods Plc signed an agreement to acquire a further 47 per cent stake in Vivergo Fuels Ltd, a Milton Keynes-based company that operates a biofuels plant in Hull. The stake has been purchased from BP Biofuels UK Ltd, which produces and distributes biofuels. The deal means that Associated British Foods Plc will be the majority shareholder in Vivergo, with a 94% stake.

In the Retail arena, Booker Group Plc, headquartered in Wellingborough, which distributes and supplies groceries, signed a sale and purchase agreement to acquire Musgrave Retail Partners GB Ltd, which operates the Londis and Budgens chains of small grocery stores. Booker has offered to pay £40m, on a cash free-debt free basis, to acquire Musgrave’s Londis’ 1,630 convenience stores and Budgens’ 167 franchise outlets. Completion of the transaction is subject to the approval of the Competition and Market Authority.

Meanwhile, communications giant Daisy Group Plc are in advanced discussions to acquire Phoenix IT Group Plc, a Northampton-based provider of IT outsourcing services. With an offer price of 160p per share, total consideration is expected to be approximately £135m.

Finally, Shuttleworth Business Systems Ltd, based in Kettering, a supplier of print management information systems to the printing industry, acquired SportFocus Ltd, also located in Kettering, which operates a web portal for regional sports clubs.