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Betting companies limber up for autumn of dealmaking

October 9th, 2017 by Chris St Cartmail

Some of the most globally renowned betting groups are preparing for a round of multibillion pound dealmaking in an effort to establish industry dominance.

One of the first deals is set to be a previously thwarted merger between an Isle-of-Man headquartered online group GVC Holdings and UK bookmaker Ladbrokes Coral. According to sources, the two groups have already agreed the shape of a new executive team and board, and are getting ready to make the next steps.

At the same time, other well-known companies including William Hill, Paddy Power Betfair, 888 Holdings and Jackpotjoy are making their own plans to out-strategise their betting rivals.

The majority of the new deals are expected to be carried out after the outcome of the UK regulatory review is published later this month, according to interviews with more than 15 senior industry executives who revealed the information to the Financial Times on condition of anonymity.

As yet, the unknown impact on income that any regulatory reform would have makes it impossible to assess the value of gambling companies, which is leading rivals to prepare plans that can be put into action after its release.

David Jennings, head of leisure research at Davy, the Irish wealth managers, said "After the review, it won't be the commencement of talks, it will be the continuation of them."

Gambling groups are beginning to realise that greater scale can help to stave off the competition from newer, online businesses and increased regulatory scrutiny. Newly enlarged companies would be able to operate several different brands, but save money overall by unifying these systems into a single platform and single marketing budget.

In 2015, Paddy Power and Betfair spearheaded this movement by combining to create the world's largest gambling company, with an estimated value of £7bn. The two brands are still integrating, however, which makes it unlikely that they'll be engaging in more high-value deals anytime soon.

A third of UK businesses slow to adopt modern tech

October 3rd, 2017 by Chris St Cartmail

Nearly a third of all UK businesses surveyed for a new study have admitted to being slow at adopting technological innovations.

Despite increasing advances that streamline and automate many business operations, as many as 32 per cent still use paper to store business-sensitive information, while others are still way behind when it comes to delivering multi-platform content and being active through digital marketing.

“Slow or late tech adopters risk falling behind the curve and, as a consequence, potentially damaging their competitiveness,” said Beverley Wise, UK & Ireland director at TomTom Telematics, the company who conducted the research.

“Effective long term digital strategies and the integration of technologies into core business activities can hold the key to simplified processes, helping improve operational efficiency, productivity and sustained levels of growth.”

Somewhat surprisingly, even though a large portion of the 400 UK senior manager respondents admitted to being behind when it came to the latest technology, 82 per cent agreed on the importance of using the most up to date technology when it came to their businesses.

The number one barrier to tech adoption was cost, with 36 per cent seeing it as a prohibitive factor. A further 16 per cent said they faced difficulties introducing these new systems, while 15 per cent said they didn't have the time to invest, research and implement such measures. Another 11 per cent said they faced resistance to modern technology from their workers.

Wise commented on these findings: “Companies should look beyond the short-term pain of any initial outlay – an investment in business technology that is implemented and used effectively can result in a significant and swift return on investment.”

“Clients that have adopted advanced telematics systems, for example, have demonstrated returns after just three months. Moreover, the right technology partner should be able to offer the requisite support to help minimise any business disruption and help ensure easy and timely implementation.”

UK pub sector in rude health as M&A activity climbs

September 20th, 2017 by Chris St Cartmail

Last orders are a long way off for the UK’s pub industry but, though appetite for deals in the sector has soared in recent years, some are warning that there may be more of a queue at the bar.

A number of high-profile deals have dominated headlines in recent months: last month, for example, Dutch giant Heineken completed its part-purchase of Punch Taverns, making it the third biggest pub-owning company in the UK.

Then there is the £100 million wrestle for Revolution Bars, a vodka and cocktail chain being courted by Slug and Lettuce owner Stonegate Pubs and nightclub operator Deltic. American buyers are also getting involved, such as US investment fund Proprium Capital’s £220 million to buy Admiral Taverns, which owns 1,000 pubs around the UK.

At the same time, market commentators predict that domestic buyers will continue to look for good deals in search of scale, with many expecting a tough time for the pub industry given the pressures on consumer spending.

Deltic’s chief executive, Peter Marks, says that not even that can curb the flow of pints to domestic consumers.

“There are questions about consumer spending but if you look over the 30-or-so years I have been in the industry while business has always fluctuated the pub industry has adapted and survived,” he says.

“A visit to the pub is a low ticket item and it has been pretty recession proof.”

Though worldwide beer consumption has dropped 1.8 per cent in 2016 to reach 185 billion litres worldwide, UK consumers’ appetites for fine ales have been maintained.

According to Chris Wickham, an analyst at corporate advisory Whitman Howard, many of the world’s major brewers looking at the UK pub market as a sure-fire way to secure distribution and volume.

“It’s hugely beneficial if you can tie in a brewery with pubs as brewers love to have distribution,” he says.

“With small brewers the difference between being profitable and not is a route to market so I still see the brewer/pub owner business model as a very attractive one. Fuller’s does well because it has guaranteed volume.

With more deals on the way – such as the proposed sale of bar chain Be At One to a range of suitors, including Avenue Capital, which bought 363 UK pubs in 2014 – pub deals are set to continue at a giddy rate into 2017.

Revealed: “Hot Sectors” in the acquisitions market right now

July 26th, 2017 by Chris St Cartmail


The ‘hot’ acquisition sectors are revealed in an exclusive video interview with Rob Goddard of Evolution Complete Business Sales.

The transcript of the interview follows:

What are the ‘hot sectors’ in the acquisitions market right now?

The sort of industries that are hot sectors at the moment would be anything in and around the IT and telecoms, integration side, globally.

Movement, storage of information, how that’s transmitted and through what devices.

Pharmaceutical, bio-science anything that’s niche and cutting edge gains a lot of interest on the buying and selling market.

Pharmaceutical, medical and health care are usually fairly common throughout the years. Not just those sectors where companies are supplying products and services, but companies that are selling into those sectors. They might be consultancy or software that’s selling into pharmaceuticals. It might be linguistics/translation selling into the medical market.

Those are the “hot” ones but it’s not an exclusive list at all.

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Subscribe to the Business Sale Report for access to more exclusive videos and inside track access to the latest deals and business sale opportunities.

View the pervious video in our mini series – The most costly buyer mistakes revealed here.

Leaking information on M&A deals boosts deal values

June 23rd, 2017 by Chris St Cartmail

Leaked data on mergers and acquisitions (M&A) boosts the average value of deals by $21 million, new research from Intralinks suggests.

The 2017 Intralinks Annual M&A Leaks Report revealed that in 2016, almost one in 10 (8.6 per cent) of global M&A deals were leaked ahead of any public announcement of the transaction. While similar to 2015 figures, the statistic represents a significant jump from a six-year low of six per cent in 2014. These results come despite the efforts of financial regulators to stamp out deal leaks and boost fines and penalties for market abuse and insider trading.

India topped the list of the top ten hotspots worldwide for deal leaks, with 16.7 per cent of the country’s deals being publicly leaked, followed by South Korea (16.1 per cent) and Japan (12 per cent). In comparison, the countries with the lowest rate of leaks include Canada (4.3 per cent), France (4.3 per cent) and the UK (7 per cent).

The Retail, Real Estate and Consumer reported the biggest problems with leaks, with the latter seeing its rate of deal leaks jump from 7.8 per cent in 2015 to 15.5 per cent in 2016. Meanwhile, Healthcare, Energy & Power and Industrials witnessed the fewest breaches.

So why do M&A deals leak? The answer lies in the higher target takeover premiums these leaks generate, resulting in higher valuations. As the Intralinks report highlights, this pattern has held true from 2009 to 2016 – during which time the median takeover premium for leaked deals has been 47 per cent for leaked deals vs. 27 per cent for non-leaked deals.

Percentage of M&A deal leaks by region

Percentage of M&A deal leaks by region

However, it’s not all bad news for businesses. Philip Whitchelo, Vice President of Strategy and Product Marketing at Intralinks, suggests the appeal of deal leaks may be waning.

“The rate of deal leaks in markets where leaking was rampant a decade ago, such as the UK, has reduced considerably: a reflection of new regulations against market abuse and much stricter regulatory enforcement.

“Countries such as India and Hong Kong, which have comparatively high levels of deal leaks, are also making more efforts to tackle market abuse and insider trading. Overall, against the perceived benefits, those leaking deals must also weigh the risks, and those benefits appear to have reduced in 2016,” he commented.

Subscribe to the Business Sale Report for access to more exclusive videos and inside track access to the latest deals and business sale opportunities.

Most costly buyer mistakes revealed

May 9th, 2017 by Chris St Cartmail


The most costly buyer mistakes are revealed in an exclusive video interview with Rob Goddard of Evolution Complete Business Sales.

The transcript of the interview follows:

What are the most costly mistakes that a business buyer can make?

I think to buy a business that doesn’t work out.

If you look on the internet you’ll find that the failure rate of an acquisition is between 50% and 80% in this country, depending on what sector you look at, within 5 years of the acquisition taking place.

It’s a high-risk strategy – where it works, it works extremely well.

And there are all sorts of reasons why that failure rate is so high in this country.

One of the things is buyers don’t take advice from professionals that are in the sector.

Another reason is they don’t do their due diligence properly. Because most people who are selling probably won’t tell you everything about their business. It’s like selling a second-hand car. They will tell you all the nice bits, all the bits that work well. What they often won’t do is tell you the things they are not happy with, the things that don’t work well. It is the buyer-beware aspect. And there’s a high failure rate.

Another costly mistake is buying a business for ego. It’s a no-no in terms of acquisitions.

Just because you have the cash to buy something doesn’t mean you need to buy it. It’s got to fit with your strategy for your overall business. Buying the wrong business, at the wrong time and for the wrong reasons is probably the most costly mistake a buyer can make.

Just because you can doesn’t mean to say you ought to.

What can be done to prevent these mistakes from happening?

When you’ve got several million pounds to spend or more, if you’re in that lucky position of having surplus cash, just because you’ve got the cash to spend, spend it wisely and make sure it’s in keeping with what you want to achieve with your main business – otherwise it could be a very costly distraction.

We try and find out: why do they want to buy? Why do they not just set up in competition with existing players in the industry? We want to tease out their motivations for acquisition. Increasing turnover shouldn’t be one of them – it’s the old adage of turnover is vanity, profit is sanity. If you make the wrong acquisition your bottom line could go through the floor. Don’t buy the wrong thing for the wrong reason.

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Subscribe to the Business Sale Report for access to more exclusive videos and inside track access to the latest deals and business sale opportunities.

View the first in our video mini series – The most common hold ups in a business acquisition here.

Founders don’t always win big on ‘successful’ exits

April 3rd, 2017 by Robert Taylor
You start a business. It grows. Exponentially. Bigger and bigger. More customers, more sales. Suddenly people are knocking on your door. Venture capital houses, who want to invest money in your business and help you grow. They come in and establish themselves. More good times ahead. All of a sudden you’re a well-known name. You start to attract interest from buyers, perhaps a bigger rival. You sell. Payday. You win big, right? Live happily ever after.

Well, maybe not.

Venture capitalists are known for making apparently risky moves – investing in young start-ups still getting a feel for things, perhaps in the fluid tech or digital sectors. But these apparently risky moves are usually well-thought-out strategic investment decisions designed to ensure that if a company they’ve put money into does get snapped up, they will do very well out of it indeed. Potentially at the expense of the founder(s).
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The most common hold-ups in a business acquisition

February 12th, 2017 by Chris St Cartmail

The most common hold-ups in a business acquisition are revealed in an exclusive video interview with Rob Goddard of Evolution Complete Business Sales.

The transcript of the interview follows:

It usually revolves around one topic which is that the buyer and seller or one or the other get lost in the detail.

They lose sight of the main objective which is to try and put two businesses together.

Or if it’s an investment play, that an incoming investor adds value to the business.

Often they can get lost in items of detail – what happens to the deal process is that it slows it down.

It also makes it more expensive because not only with management on both sides trying to iron out a deal, but if you’ve got lawyers acting – and accountants and other advisers – the bills quite often, particularly with lawyers, can extend. Especially if you’re playing your lawyer by the hour.

One’s got to be careful of dragging out the deal negotiation process unduly. It will get expensive and something comes into play – which will be the subject of my second book – which is deal fatigue.

Rob Goddard
With buyers and sellers there comes a point when it goes on for far too long and one or both parties just get tired of it all.

They keep going round the houses and nothing seems to be able to be crystallized. You can be 18 months down the line and there’s nothing concrete, nothing materialized and no agreement to go forward.

What does this mean for the deal?

Stalemate! One or the other will fade away, disengage from the process and you may have lost a year, 18 months, two years. Three years is the longest period of time I’ve heard about which is incredible. It should be done over a three, four month period to negotiate, to construct a deal.

And then get the lawyers involved and make sure the lawyer is on an hourly rate. Sorry lawyers, fixed price!

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Survey of pub sales reveals large increase in freehouse deals

January 5th, 2017 by Chris St Cartmail
Green Man Pub
The volume of operational freehouse pub sales has shot up by 150 per cent in the last year, whilst bottom-end pub sales are down by 28 per cent.

This is according to the annual ‘Survey of Pub Sales’ carried out by leisure property specialists Fleurets. The survey revealed the stability of the pub sales market in general, which is surprising considering the political, regulatory and economic turbulence over the past twelve months.

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Alternative finance available via ‘Asset Based Lending’ leaps to £4.3 billion

December 12th, 2016 by Chris St Cartmail

asset based finance in the UK
Amount of available lending against machinery and property in the UK

The amount of alternative finance available under ‘asset based lending’ to UK businesses reached a record high of £4.3 billion, up 22% in the last year.
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