Category: Corporate Finance and M&A/Deals

Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsEquityFinanceForeign Direct InvestmentInfrastructure and Project Finance

Mobeus invests £9M in fast-growth customer experience specialists, Ventrica

Ventrica, a European, award-winning, outsourced contact centre, has attracted a £9 million investment from Mobeus Equity Partners. Ventrica provides intelligent, multi-lingual and omni-channel outsourced customer service to a range of global ‘blue-chip’ brands.

“Ventrica is right in the sweet spot for the growing outsourcing contact centre market”

Southend-based Ventrica was founded in 2010 by Dino Forte and has undergone rapid growth, doubling in size over the last two years. Ventrica is an innovation leader in the changing sales and customer service sector. As e-commerce continues to grow, especially in the retail space, and customers expand their communication channels from the phone to email, social media and webchat, companies are increasingly looking to specialists to provide around the clock customer-facing support. Ventrica works closely with its clients, leveraging its people, technology (including support for Artificial Intelligence and Automation) training and resourcing expertise to provide a high quality service, across multiple channels, that supports their brand and their values. 

Ventrica is already one of Essex’s top employers and now plans European expansion

Ventrica is a key employer in Southend and in 2017 the company launched a second site in the town. Employing over 450 staff, and growing to 600 this year, it is one of the town’s major private employers. With support from Mobeus, the company plans further investment to expand its footprint in the UK and Europe to support its growing multi-lingual client base that serve customers across global markets. However the strategy is to remain medium-sized.

Danielle Garland, Mobeus Investment Manager, said, “Ventrica is right in the sweet spot for the growing outsourcing contact centre market – it is large enough to deliver multilingual and leading-edge technology solutions to its blue-chip clients but small enough to be dynamic and innovative and to provide the personalised service its clients require. As more clients onshore back to the UK, Ventrica is very well placed to continue to deliver very strong growth.”

Dino Forte, Ventrica CEO, added, “Mobeus stood out as the right partner because of the team’s immediate enthusiasm for, and deep understanding of, our offering at Ventrica. We have a significant market opportunity and are winning new customer contracts at an increasing rate and of an increasing scale. With Mobeus as a partner, we are well positioned to strengthen our team to support our significant growth whilst also allowing us to better focus on our existing clients which will be our key priority moving forward. 

Mobeus Partner Ashley Broomberg worked with Danielle Garland who sourced and led the transaction on behalf of Mobeus. Guy Blackburn, Mobeus Portfolio Director, has joined the board to support Ventrica in achieving its full potential. Dino Forte was advised by Sarah Moores and Rob Dukelow-Smith (Forward Corporate Finance). 

Bowmark Capital
Corporate Finance and M&A/Deals

Bowmark Capital backs buy-out of leading alternative legal services provider

“This is all about access to capital for our next stage of growth,” comments LOD CEO Tom Hartley. “We have been exploring alternative options since the summer of 2017 following our successful merger with AdventBalance in Asia and Australia in 2016.”

Neville Eisenberg, BCLP Partner responsible for LOD, said: “BCLP is extremely proud to have been a pioneer in the alternative legal services market. Nurturing the creation of LOD over 10 years ago, and supporting its growth and considerable influence over the legal market as a high quality provider of flexible legal services, has been an extraordinary journey for us all. We believe that LOD is ideally placed for further growth and that this new investment by Bowmark will help facilitate LOD’s ambitious plans. BCLP has committed to remain close to LOD, partnering with the business for its flexible lawyer needs and we look forward to seeing the results of this exciting new chapter in LOD’s development.”

Bowmark Managing Partner Charles Ind said: “We have been tracking the alternative legal services sector for a number of years and are delighted to have the opportunity to become the principal shareholder in LOD and support the whole LOD team as they build on the impressive growth they have achieved to date.”

Hartley adds, “BCLP has been a great owner, client and partner and this is the logical next step for us to take. LOD has already been a separate entity from BCLP for the last six years, during which time we’ve seen excellent growth.  We want to maintain that expansion by continuing to add new service lines, geographies and technology to our existing offering for our lawyers, consultants and clients. LOD is now in the perfect position to continue to lead the alternative legal services market supported by the capital and expertise of Bowmark.”

physical currency
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsFinance

Why physical currency in a digital economy is still a must for UK travelers

Why physical currency in a digital economy is still a must for UK travelers

Trailing closely behind Sweden and Canada, the United Kingdom is the world’s third most cashless society. According to UK Finance, cash will be used for a mere 21 per cent of all payments by 2026. Increasingly, countries around the world are making definite moves towards a futuristic economy based on fully digital transactions for goods and services, with cash often portrayed as obsolete. In Sweden, 80 per cent of all transactions are made by cards via the mobile payment app, Swish.

However, deeming the role of cash in society as obsolete – according to travel money provider WeSwap – is far from accurate. WeSwap’s Founder and CEO Jared Jesner believes that as a nation, our adoration of travel means that although we are moving closer towards becoming a cashless society within our own borders, when we go abroad this all changes- people still like the comfort of cash in their pocket when they explore the unknown. According to a report in Reuters citing the Bank for International Settlements, the study found that the use of cash is actually rising in both developed and emerging markets. “Some of the breathless commentary gives the impression that cash in the form of traditional notes and coins is going out of fashion fast,” said Hyun Song Shin, BIS economic adviser and head of research “despite all the technological improvements in payments in recent years, the use of good old-fashioned cash is still rising in most, though not all, advanced and emerging market economies.” Furthermore, the Bank for International Settlements found that in recent years, the amount of cash in circulation has increased to 9 percent of GDP in 2016 from 7 percent of GDP back in 2000. That said, the same study stated that debit and credit card payments represented 25 percent of GDP in 2016, up from 13 percent in 2000.

Cash’s resiliency comes at a time when the odds are seemingly stacked against its historically ubiquitous presence, with the critical mass of consumers owning more credit and debit cards today than ever before, using them for smaller transactions than in years past. Moreover, thanks to new technologies, consumers are able to use contactless payments via their mobile devices to pay for things in record numbers. These now societal norms have led to predictions that cash is dying as the world moves to digital payments. WeSwap asserts this prediction as flawed.

Jared Jesner, WeSwap’s CEO, was surprised to learn how integral cash remains to society when he founded the digital payments start-up. Despite being credit card-dependent at home, travelers inevitably need to access hard currency beyond UK borders, especially as UK residents going abroad can never be certain how many shops, restaurants, or tourist attractions will accept credit cards. Jesner is optimistic about the potential to change the landscape of payments, having founded WeSwap to make currency exchange cheap and fair for ordinary people “I’m incredulous to the fact that we still ‘buy’ money when we should just be swapping with each other.”

With Futurologists long predicting cash will one day become obsolete, contextualised by the advent of blockchain technology, mobile money and similar innovations, a transition towards a more cashless society is inevitable, but not to the extent where notes are no-more. For all the convenience that digital payments offer, travelers remain reluctant to fully part with their hard currency. WeSwap believes that a security-based connection secures the role of cash amongst travellers—and creates a need for a fair and transparent currency exchange.

SWIFT Response To Cyber Attacks | International Business Payments
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsFinance

SWIFT Response To Cyber Attacks | International Business Payments

SWIFT Responds to Cyber Attacks on the World’s International Business Payments Infrastructure

By – Bill Camarda

When businesses make cross-border payments, settle a trade or perform many other common financial tasks, standardized messages are sent to make it happen. Six billion of those messages traveled over the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication’s (SWIFT’s) secure messaging platform last year: it is used by over 11,000 financial firms, markets and corporations in some 200 countries to make international business payments. So it’s no surprise that SWIFT has been under attack by global cybercriminals – or that it is now responding aggressively. Its response affects every SWIFT member and, indirectly, the businesses that trade across borders and that therefore make use of SWIFT’s network.

Background: Successful International Business Payments Fraud

One weekend this past February, hackers fed SWIFTNet an authentic-looking set of instructions to move nearly $1 billion from the Bangladesh Central Bank’s New York Federal Reserve Bank account to multiple banks throughout Asia. , Most of those requests were declined (though, in one case, a simple typo may have been all that saved the money from being lost). However, $81 million was transferred to a bank in the Philippines. After that, the money was evidently forwarded to a forex service, redeposited in the Philippines bank, withdrawn again and laundered into cash at local casinos. From there, it disappeared.

The public still doesn’t know many of the details of this crime – not least, who did it and whether “state actors” were involved, as has been suggested by some informed observers. But several aspects of the attack have been widely reported, and they raise significant concerns.

Cross-Border B2B Payments Fraud Was Carefully Planned and Exploited Widespread Vulnerabilities

Attacks against bank customers have unfortunately become familiar, but these attacks are different: they aim to victimize the banks themselves, through the global infrastructure they use to move money around the world to make international business payments.

It appears that the criminals spent at least a year planning their attack on the Bangladesh Central Bank. The accounts which received the stolen funds had lain dormant for quite some time, and investigators found evidence of smaller forays against other institutions in the months leading up to the attack. The criminals seem to have infected Bangladesh Central Bank’s computers with malware designed to prevent SWIFT’s software from printing the transaction copies that financial institutions expect and check. Since the heist took place on a weekend, nobody seems to have realized until Monday morning. SWIFT has also said that the criminals somehow used valid credentials to initiate the money transfers, though it isn’t known how these were acquired.

These reports show that the crime involved extremely careful planning, and the exploitation of vulnerabilities not dissimilar from those used in many other cyberattacks. While the malware involved was well-targeted and relatively sophisticated, it probably found its way into a network through familiar means: perhaps physically, through a USB stick, or electronically, via an email attachment.

Legitimate SWIFT credentials were stolen: perhaps by an insider, perhaps by “tricking” someone into sharing them, or perhaps by a garden-variety network security compromise caused by a vulnerability that could have been fixed in time. What’s more, cyberattacks on the infrastructure banks use for international business payments are ongoing. In October 2016, a cybersecurity firm announced that it detected malware that can be used to hide fraudulent SWIFT transactions within the networks of 10 to 20 financial institutions, mostly in the United States, Hong Kong, Australia, the United Kingdom and Ukraine.”

Based on what’s known, existing technical safeguards and greater human vigilance can help, and such measures may now be more crucial than ever. That’s where SWIFT’s latest response comes in.

SWIFT’s Response: Mandatory Controls and Greater Transparency In International Business Payments

To help understand why SWIFT responded as it has, it’s worth noting that SWIFT’s own network was not compromised. Member companies link to Swift in three ways: a few install a direct interface; some use a SWIFT-provided cloud solution and others use a service bureau, which typically assists with some aspects of SWIFT-related security.

So in September 2016 at its annual global conference, SWIFT announced that it will require members to significantly harden their own information infrastructures against attack – and, ultimately, to demonstrate that they’ve done so. Starting Spring 2017, “customers will be required to provide self-attestation against 16 mandatory controls on an annual basis … the standards will be made applicable to all customers connected to SWIFT, including those connected through service bureaus.”

Beginning in January 2018, a random selection of SWIFT customers will be required to show proof from internal or external auditors that they’ve actually met these requirements. If a customer proves non-compliant, SWIFT will inform both its regulators and its counterparts. At the same time, SWIFT will also add 11 more “advisory” (i.e., voluntary) controls.

SWIFT hasn’t formally announced which controls it will require or recommend: the preliminary list is promised by the end of October 2016, with community feedback to follow. However, The Wall Street Journal has reported that the standards will require the physical lockdown of equipment used to connect with SWIFT; better control over tokens containing SWIFT credentials; more security training and cyber incident response plans. Some of these measures are technical, but others – such as security training – involve all participants in the international business payments process and may indirectly involve outside business partners who aren’t SWIFT members.

Meanwhile, SWIFT is more actively encouraging financial institutions to share information about indications of compromise and modus operandi when they discover they are being attacked, whether successfully or not. This has been described as a step towards a gradual change in culture, as large institutions increasingly recognize that it is extremely difficult to fend off sophisticated cyberattacks alone.

To support SWIFT’s request for cooperation, SWIFT CEO Gottfried Leibbrandt revealed that at least three more attacks were foiled this summer. He also made it clear that he expects such attacks to continue, and to grow in sophistication. For SWIFT member organizations, scrupulously following SWIFT’s forthcoming rules will likely be an important part of the solution, but only part. As SWIFT Chairman Yawar Shah put it, “this will be a long haul, and will require industry-wide effort and investment, as well as active engagement with regulators … a concerted, community-wide response.”

The Takeaway

Companies that make cross-border B2B payments via wire transfer are, of course, aware of the growing prevalence of hackers attempting to perpetrate fraud in their midst. Businesses may wish to familiarize themselves with SWIFT’s mandatory security requirements as they are announced, and as they evolve over time. Even though the requirements may not apply to a company just because it makes international business payments via wire, following the recommendations are likely to enable better security than not following them.

The Author

Bill Camarda is a professional writer with more than 30 years’ experience focusing on business and technology. He is author or co-author of 19 books on information technology and has written for clients including American Express Private Bank, Ernst & Young, Financial Times Knowledge and IBM.

International Payments: Remittances From Migrants
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsFinance

International Payments: Remittances From Migrants

Migrants’ International Payments May Mean Developing Countries Are Better Markets than they Appear

The last three decades have seen a large increase in the number of people living and working outside their countries of origin. The World Bank estimates that between 1990 and 2015, the number of migrants worldwide rose from 152 million to 250 million, and now make up about 3.4 percent of the global population. Many migrants send money back via international payments methods to families and friends in their countries of origin – in amounts substantial enough to turn some developing countries into better markets for international businesses than they may at first appear.

As the proportion of migrants in the world population has grown, the dollar value of these international payments, known as “remittances,” has also risen. In April 2016, a World Bank report forecasted that 2016 migrant remittance payments would total $603 billion, of which $431 billion would go to developing countries. These estimates are for remittances made using official international payment methods – the report suggested that unrecorded/unofficial payments could be much larger.

Remittances Drive Substantial International Payments

By far the largest source of remittance payments is the United States: in 2015, international payments worth over $133.5 billion were made by migrants working in the U.S. Of this, nearly $24 billion went to Mexico, $16.25 billion went to China, and nearly $11 billion to India. Other developed countries also remit funds, though on a smaller scale. In 2015, migrants in the United Kingdom sent global payments totaling nearly $25 billion back to their families; the largest recipients were Nigeria ($3.7 billion) and India ($3.6 billion). Migrants in Australia also remitted over $16.5 billion, much of it to China and India.

Remittances thus represent a substantial transfer of funds from the developed world to developing countries, significantly exceeding official development aid. In 2015, India was the largest remittance-receiving country with an estimated $69 billion, followed by China ($64 billion), and the Philippines ($28 billion). But although remittances to China and India are large in money terms, they are not large in relation to the size of their economies. In contrast, remittances make up over 25 percent of GDP for some smaller developing countries: in 2014, over 40 percent of the economy of the central Asian republic of Tajikistan relied on international payments from migrants.

International Payments by Migrants are Important Drivers of International Trade

These large inflows to developing countries create opportunities for international businesses. Families with access to funds from overseas may purchase more imported goods and services: for example, in 2014 remittances financed around 25 percent of imports in Nigeria and about 20 percent in Senegal. Remittances also support the development of local businesses, creating opportunities for international B2B sales. In Vietnam, for example, money sent by overseas Vietnamese has boosted local businesses and real estate markets: the World Bank says “about 70 percent of remittance inflows to Ho Chi Minh City (HCM) went into production and business, and some 22 percent to the real estate sector.” In Vietnam, also, the central bank uses remittance income to stabilize the banking sector, which helps to encourage trade finance for export and import businesses.

For many developing countries, remittances are an important source of foreign currency, enabling them to build up FX reserves. Strong FX reserve buffers reassure international businesses that their local business partners will be able to obtain the foreign currency needed to meet their obligations. Strong FX reserve buffers also encourage the development of local branches, subsidiaries and franchises, since businesses can be confident that the profits earned from local business can be repatriated when needed.

Risks to International Migration and Remittance Flows

There is a popular view in many developed countries that migrants are a burden, draining money from the country while making demands on services such as healthcare and competing with native-born workers for jobs. But the full picture is more complex. Many international businesses rely on migrant workers, both skilled and unskilled, to enable them to deliver value for money to their customers. Migrants pay taxes and contribute to the local economy where they live and work.

Research by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the World Bank and the International Labor Organization shows that overall, migrants contribute more to the economies of their host countries than they take out.

However, the international payments landscape may be growing more challenging for countries that rely on remittances. This is for two reasons. Firstly, banks under pressure to comply with tighter anti-money laundering (AML) legislation in developed countries are closing the accounts of international payment solutions providers in developing countries. The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) observes that in some countries in the Pacific area, these account closures potentially deprive people in rural areas of access to funds, which could cause severe economic problems. In 2016, Australia’s four big banks exited from the country’s remittance business, raising concerns that unregulated money transfer providers would spring up to serve migrant needs, making AML control more difficult.

Secondly, exchange rate movements affect the value of international payments. In the last two years, the strong dollar has benefited recipients of funds from the U.S., but adversely affected countries receiving remittances in euros or sterling. The oil price also affects migration patterns in oil-producing countries: migration from Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries to Russia, for example, has declined in the last two years due to the ruble’s weakness and Russia’s recession. Falling migration inevitably reduces remittance flows. The World Bank identifies the prospect of the oil price remaining low as a key risk to the growth of remittances in 2016-17.

For many migrant workers, being able to make international payments to friends and family in their countries of origin is a key driver of their decision to work overseas. Businesses looking to attract migrant workers may wish to consider ways of mitigating adverse developments in the international payments landscape, for example by partnering with a trusted international payment solutions provider to help workers make international payments and manage their FX risk effectively.

The Takeaway

Historically, remittances via international payment solutions have provided a strong, stable flow of income for many countries, which can offer rich opportunities for international businesses. However, tighter regulation of banks and adverse exchange rate movements also threaten remittance flows for some countries.

The Author

With 17 years experience in the financial industry, Frances is a highly regarded writer and speaker on banking, finance and economics. She writes regularly for the Financial Times, Forbes and a range of financial industry publications. Her writing has featured in The Economist, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. She is a frequent commentator on TV, radio and online news media including the BBC and RT TV.

A Passion for Real Estate and Architecture
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsFinance

A Passion for Real Estate and Architecture

Directors Fernando Levy Hara and Stephan Gietl realised their shared passion for real estate and architecture, while attending the Advanced Management Development Program in Real Estate (AMDP) at Harvard University Graduate School of Design. AMDP is exclusively for entrepreneurs and senior-level professionals, with minimum 15 years of real estate-related experience. Both Levy Hara and Gietl are in the meantime, highly sought after speakers at Harvard University, especially on real estate cycles.

Levy Hara and Gietl have specialised during the downturn of the economy in the years 2009 and 2010 in acquiring distressed assets, amongst them notes, fractured condominiums and land. Both developed residential and commercial projects in South Florida, Europe and Latin America, including the successful waterfront condominiums Regatta and Bay View Lofts in Miami Beach.
Since its inception, McKafka Development Group has acquired notes, properties and development sites exceeding $100 million in value and has sold more than 500 units mostly to international investors. With its latest condominium development, The Crimson, McKafka Development Group will certainly leave an imprint on Miami’s skyline.

McKafka Development Group was excited to announce its latest development addition, a 282-multifamily project in Sarasota, Florida. With this development, McKafka Development Group is evidencing once more its right timing for the market.

Stephan Gietl serves as the Chief Finance Officer and Chief Operating Officer of the company. Originally from Austria, he was responsible for the completion of a mix-used project called Palladium in Downtown Prague, with more than one million square feet of shopping centre, office and parking space. Stephan is instructor of executive education at Harvard and member of Harvard’s Board of Real Estate Academic Initiative.

Development services

Our development service division has a very strong capability to evaluate a project’s feasibility, from a 360-degree perspective, which makes Mckafka a first-choice developer.
The team’s sophisticated skills span our services – from distressed asset acquisition to overall development services – including key turn projects. Our dedication to every detail in the whole development chain puts Mckafka at the forefront delivering outstanding project results. Implementation of our self-developed cost and project management tools further enhances governance and goal compliance of any development project we work on.

Property management

Mckafka Property Management specialises in providing a full range of residential property management services to such owners, especially international investors. Our portfolio comprises hundreds of condominium units in Fort Lauderdale and Miami, Florida. With our fully integrated online management tool, our investors receive a full picture of their investment at their fingertips, from any mobile device. Our ability and experience in residential property management allows McKafka Property Management, LLC to serve and provide personal attention to our clients.
Realty services Helping to maximise the return of your investment, McKafka Realty’s team emphasis lies in minimising any vacancy of your property, as well as maximising your income. With our in-depth market knowledge, we assist you in generating outstanding rental and sales income.

The Crimson case

study One of our firm’s projects, The Crimson will offer buyers and investors a cost effective residential experience with ultra luxury amenities. Located at NE 27th and Biscayne Blvd, this LEED Silver project will feature 1, 2 and 3-bedroom residences, penthouses and town homes. The Crimson units range from approximately 780-1600 square feet, spanning nine different floor plans, plus there is ample storage and parking available. The building also offers six penthouses, equipped with an outdoor terrace and private hot tub.

From Online Deal-Sourcing to Due Diligence - The next Level of Investment
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsFinance

From Online Deal-Sourcing to Due Diligence – The next Level of Investment

Drooms, the virtual data room provider, has recently strengthened its expertise in the field of lifecycle asset management with the acquisition of DealMarket. Here, Jan Hoffmeister tells us more about the purchase and Drooms’ plans to utilise its new-found assets going forward.

Drooms (drooms.com) is the leading provider of secure cloud solutions in Europe. The software specialist allows companies controlled access to confidential corporate data across company boundaries. Confidential business processes such as commercial real estate sales, mergers & acquisitions, NPL transactions and Board communications are handled securely, transparently and efficiently by Drooms. Leading global real estate companies, consultancy firms, law firms and corporations such as the METRO GROUP, Evonik, Morgan Stanley, JLL, JP Morgan, CBRE, Rewe and UBS are among Drooms’ client base.

Co-founder and chairman of Drooms, Jan Hoffmeister, tells us more about the firm and its areas of specialism.

“At Drooms, we specialise in providing data rooms for due diligence processes in transactions. However, we know from experience that due diligence is only one (decisive) aspect of a long and complex process with several parties and a great deal of expertise involved. Failing to prepare properly for due diligence processes can be damaging for both sides of a transaction, can waste time and money for everybody involved, and can eventually even hinder a good deal.”

“With the first virtual data room in Europe in 2001, we contributed to radically transforming the due diligence process. Traditionally, the term ‘data room’ referred to the physical rooms that served as the document repositories where M&A transactions took place. The costs involved were considerable as well as the time required for the whole process. The digitisation of the process meant: faster due diligence, improved efficiency, ability to execute from remote locations. Since then, Drooms is a key player in bringing the newest technology into the due diligence market. With the release of Drooms NXG at the end of 2016, Drooms introduced for the first time artificial intelligence and automation technology into its virtual data room.”

To support investors in preparing for due diligence with the aid of thorough reporting, Drooms decided to acquire DealMarket, a Swiss FinTech company specialising in the management of complex investment projects. Thanks to DealMarket, investors have a tool where they can set up customised deal flows, enabling them to organise and monitor every step of their investment activities until the moment of truth, i.e. due diligence.

Jan explains more about DealMarket and the rationale behind the acquisition.
“Deal making is always a complex process. DealMarket’s Deal Flow management tool makes the investment project a bit less complex by allowing information and data storage on the DealMarket platform. Investors can manage how they view deals, find them and approach them throughout the deal making process.”

“Now, what increases the complexity is often the finalisation process, i.e. the due diligence, which is executed in a virtual data room. The due diligence process can add its difficulties and drag the investment process on. With Drooms’ virtual data room, the documentation management as well as the Q&A happen on one highly safe platform. This saves time since you don’t need to send documents back and forth or upload them to several platforms. Speed is of the essence when it comes to deal making – too often investments and mergers can fall through simply because the process took too long to finish. The Instant Access Technology Drooms uses guarantees documents can be processed and accessed without unnecessary delay in the process.”

Overall, the addition of Drooms helps clients with the latter stages of the investment cycle. While DealMarket helped you choose the right deals, Drooms’ data rooms make it easy to finalise the acquisition.

“With the acquisition of DealMarket we are closing in on our target of managing the entire lifecycle of valuable assets. DealMarket has done some excellent development work in this area, developing an innovative, industry-tailored solution in the process. In strengthening the Drooms team with the experience and expertise of DealMarket employees, we are now in a position to offer even more services from a single source.”

With regards to the future, Jan tells us how Drooms intends to stay one step ahead of the game.
“We have a large team of developers on-site,” he explains. “As the core of our company is its technology, they work every day to make sure Drooms NXG is a carrier of the newest technological developments. For instance, we have simplified one of the most demanding and at the same time crucial tasks within due diligence: the Q&A process. Thanks to our Q&A tool, customers can set up even the most sophisticated process completely by themselves. A feature that legal experts especially appreciate is the Findings Manager, the module allowing for the assessment of risks and opportunities inherent to a deal.

The feature is based on powerful smart content analytics. And our developers work to offer the greatest functionalities to speed up and improve a deal. The bottom line is this: if intelligent machines can help improve due diligence, then all the stakeholders will be able to spend their time executing strategic and meaningful tasks.”

Company: Drooms
Name: Jan Hoffmeister
Email: [email protected]
Web Address: www.drooms.com

Winners Directory January 2017
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsFinance

Winners Directory January 2017

Winners Directory – January 2017

Private Equity Investor of the Year 2016
Company: Universal-Investment
Email: [email protected]
Web Address: www.universal-investment.com
Address: Theodor-Heuss-Allee 70, 60486 Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Telephone: +49 69 71043-114


Real Estate Fund Manager of the Year
Company: TH Real Estate
Name: Gemma Young
Email: [email protected]
Web Address: www.threalestate.com
Address: 201 Bishopsgate, London, EC2M 3BN
Telephone: +44 (0) 20 3727 8000

CNH Industrial Acquires Kongskilde Agriculture Brands
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsFinance

CNH Industrial Acquires Kongskilde Agriculture Brands

CNH Industrial N.V. announced today its agreement to acquire the agricultural Grass and Soil implement business of Kongskilde Industries, part of the Danish Group Dansk Landbrugs Grovvareselskab.

This business develops, manufactures and sells solutions for agricultural applications in the Tillage, Seeding and Hay & Forage segments under various brands, including Kongskilde, Överum and JF.
The acquisition comprises a transfer of assets related to the Tillage, Seeding and Hay & Forage activities of Kongskilde Industries. The manufacturing footprint of this business includes two plants in Europe, located in Poland and Sweden. The transaction is subject to various closing conditions, including regulatory approvals.

As a result of the agreement with DLG A.m.b.A., CNH Industrial’s global agricultural machinery brand New Holland Agriculture will undergo a significant product portfolio extension that will strengthen its Tillage, Seeding and Hay & Forage product offering. New Holland has a long-established leadership in the hay tools segment going back to 1940 with the introduction of the first self-tying baler to American farmers, a major breakthrough in hay harvesting. Today, New Holland is a leading global brand and an industry-leader in North America in hay tools with a complete product offering of hay equipment used in a variety of agricultural, dairy, and livestock industries.

“We are proud to welcome the well established products and brands of Kongskilde, Överum and JF into the CNH Industrial Group. It is our intention to build upon these proud heritages and significantly increase their market access as part of our worldwide distribution network,” commented Richard Tobin, CEO of CNH Industrial.

Through this agreement New Holland will be able to provide its worldwide customers with further innovative and comprehensive equipment solutions for their farming needs in tillage, seeding and Hay & Forage

CNH Industrial N.V is a global leader in the capital goods sector with established industrial experience, a wide range of products and a worldwide presence. Each of the individual brands belonging to the Company is a major international force in its specific industrial sector: Case IH, New Holland Agriculture and Steyr for tractors and agricultural machinery; Case and New Holland Construction for earth moving equipment; Iveco for commercial vehicles; Iveco Bus and Heuliez Bus for buses and coaches; Iveco Astra for quarry and construction vehicles; Magirus for firefighting vehicles; Iveco Defence Vehicles for defence and civil protection; and FPT Industrial for engines and transmissions. More information can be found on the corporate website: www.cnhindustrial.com

DanSmoke to Offer Unique Benefits for Ryanair Passengers
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsFinance

DanSmoke to Offer Unique Benefits for Ryanair Passengers

DanSmoke, the number one electronic cigarette brand in Europe, is kicking off the New Year in a high-flying manner. The e-cigarette forerunner is joining forces with another European favourite, the airline giant Ryanair in an international ad campaign. The DanSmoke “luggage tag”, along with a discount voucher will appear on millions of boarding passes starting this month.

With online shops in 18 European countries and with more planned for this year, DanSmoke™ is the leading name in the industry of electronic cigarette products. Now this fast-growing brand seems to have found its perfect match in Ryanair, Europe’s favourite airline carrier. The ongoing collaboration combines the global reach and scale of Ryanair, with the innovative products of DanSmoke in an effort to raise awareness about the benefits of e-cigarettes over combustible tobacco.

“We’re very pleased to be working together with Ryanair to promote our products. With 189 destinations in 30 countries, Ryanair covers all our current and future markets. So together we make a really great team,” said Robin Roy Krigslund-Hansen, DanSmoke’s CEO.

Moreover, e-cigarettes, which contain nicotine, but no tar or carbon monoxide, have fast become a popular alternative for smokers looking for an efficient cessation aid that they can use everywhere – be it on the ground or up in the sky. DanSmoke has currently over 50 000 customers around Europe – a figure which is likely to rise, as new countries are added to the list of markets covered.

The DanSmoke “luggage tag” will be featured extensively on boarding passes across the Ryanair network of destinations. During the campaign, nicotine-craving globetrotters can use their Ryanair boarding pass as a key to discount in DanSmoke webshops.

ClearSlide and LevelEleven Announce Partnership
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsFinance

ClearSlide and LevelEleven Announce Partnership

ClearSlide, the Sales Engagement Platform leader, and LevelEleven, the leading Sales Activity Management System, today announced a partnership and integrations that will deliver significant sales productivity improvements for any company.

According to global sales advisory firm CSO Insights, sales leaders report that improving sales productivity tops their list of priorities. But on average, sales managers have less than 20 percent of their time available to directly help reps sell. Also, more than 70 percent of companies are taking at least six months to ramp new reps and fewer than 60 percent of sales reps achieve their sales quota plans. These challenges are resulting in sales leaders wanting better, real-time visibility into how their sales staff are engaging prospects and customers to achieve sales priorities and business results.

“Nearly every sales leader I meet would like to increase the productivity of their sales teams – but they struggle to identify which activities and behaviors will make a difference,” said Jim Benton, ClearSlide Chief Strategy Officer and Co-Founder. “We are excited to work with LevelEleven because they strive to always improve how companies engage their customers. Partnerships like this offer modern tools with better guided sales activities to create amazing sales experiences in this exciting digital era of selling.”

“Sales leaders embrace LevelEleven’s Sales Activity Management System to keep salespeople engaged in the right behaviors, so that sales teams will deliver more revenue,” said Bob Marsh, CEO of LevelEleven. “Bringing ClearSlide activities and customer engagement metrics into our product adds visibility to critical new sales KPIs, increasing confidence that deals will close and sales teams are clearly focused. We’re honored to join ClearSlide’s strong partner program.”

LevelEleven has integrated ClearSlide’s open APIs into its Sales Activity Management System. This integration provides organizations a guided selling process with actions sales reps should take at each sales stage. This also provides visibility into performance against top ClearSlide KPIs such as email open rates, number of online and in-person meetings, and total engaged selling time. Sales leaders leverage the LevelEleven integration with ClearSlide KPIs to set benchmark performance levels to help scale stronger results across their teams.

ClearSlide’s partner program offers integration access to valuable ClearSlide activity and engagement data to power new digital selling processes and stronger sales enablement applications. Using open APIs, developers can dynamically upload content, programmatically launch email online meetings, and ingest robust customer engagement data into their own applications. Partners or customers interested to learn more about ClearSlide’s partner program and API development kit can easily connect with the company by emailing [email protected]

A World of Wellness
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsFinance

A World of Wellness

Based in Florida, Code of Life’s Boutique Wellness Studio provide pilates, barre, dance and cardio classes for a highly diverse range of clients. We spoke to Hosanna De Linares, President of the studio, to find out how they provide a truly unforgettable experience.

To kick things off, could you tell our readers about what people can expect to experience when visiting your studio, and the type of exercises involved? At Code of Life’s Boutique Wellness Studio, you are trained to be mindful and aware of your body movement as you are shown how to excel to your personal best through our ever-changing exercises. Code of Life’s reformer,
barre and CoreALign classes are based on the six pilates principles:
concentration, centering, control, breathing, precision and flow. 

The reformer is a piece of resistance exercise equipment designed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century. It consists of a platform that moves back and forth along a carriage. Resistance is provided by the exerciser’s body weight and by springs attached to the carriage and platform.
The reformer provides finely tuned exercise resistance that allows one to work very precisely to develop good alignment, core strength and flexibility.

These things in turn, lead to daily life improvements such as better posture, graceful, efficient movement, and for many, relief from pain associated with physical imbalances such as back pain.
Designed by Jonathan Hoffman, a physical therapist and fitness enthusiast, CoreAlign was created with the belief that the body functions and heals best when movements are anatomically sound and balanced.

As a training tool, CoreAlign exercises are designed to create harmony between controlled stability and dynamic mobility, resulting in a strong, healthy and vibrant body. The CoreAlign method stimulates our core stability muscles to fire in perfect timing while performing functional exercises,
deep stretches and core-controlled aerobic training. This makes it a perfect addition to a Pilates studio, personal training or physical therapy practice.

The barre is used as a prop to balance while doing exercises that focus on isometric strength training, combined with high reps of a small rangeof-motion movements. Barre combines pilates, yoga and ballet moves to give you beautiful, sculpted and lean muscles. In order to provide a
variety for our customers, we continue to design and develop new and challenging exercises that will make them stronger, and will keep them wanting to come back and experience more of our fun and dynamic classes.

Through this process, you will be guided to grow stronger physically and mentally, balancing the body and mind so that when you walk out the door you move gracefully towards a well-balanced life, making your practice your lifestyle. Additionally, Code of Life also offers health coaching
to help you make positive choices that enhance your personal physical, mental and spiritual health. Also at Code of Life’s Boutique shop, you will find the best curated style activewear brands from around the world. 

Could you tell us a bit more about how long you have been running and the beautiful location that you are based in? Code of Life was born three years ago in Key Biscayne in Florida, which is an island oasis with world renowned parks at both ends. The island has become famous for both golf and tennis tournaments, and its unique surrounding means that it attracts visitors from across the globe. 

What would say are the major attractions behind your boutique studio? We focus on the fundamentals of pilates, exercises that involve practicing on the mat, reformer, barre and core align. In order to provide a variety for our customers, we continue to design and develop new and challenging exercises and we also offer wellness programs and nutritional coaching.

Tell us about a typical client a Code of Conduct?

There is no typical client at Code of Conduct and we provide form all walks of life. In the beginning, the first Code of Life clients were friends of mine, and from then one, the word spread about our services and we have continued to grow from strength to strength. 

To what extent do you think that hotel and spa industry is built around
creating unforgettable experiences and providing exquisite escapes from
everyday life?

I think this is basically what we are all about and is what we try to achieve with each and every customer that comes to our business. 

Can you outline some of the qualities of your establishment, such as extravagance, elegance, sophistication and peerless customer service that ensures visitors return again and again?

Code of Life’s space, classes and environment are designed to make you feel at home. They are like your sanctuary, a sacred space where you feel safe, where you feel free, where you know that as soon as you walk in the door all your worries and anxieties can be left behind. It is where people
can allow themselves to trust and be guided into a truly unforgettable experience.

What makes put the success of your company down to?

First and foremost, I passionately believe in what I do and what I have to offer. What makes my job so much easier is that I really love what I do, and my clients are people I care about and who I am motivated to do my very best for. 

What contribution do your staff make to the success of your firm?

Our staff are the backbone behind our success, where each instructor trains daily and is continuing to grow their own practices. We are all united by the fact that we take a personal touch to what we do, love what we do and believe in what Code of Life stands for.

Looking ahead, what challenges lie ahead in 2016 for your firm?

In this business field, success is staying current with what is constantly developing and differentiating yourself from others. We believe that our business has continued to develop and grow in line with our clients ever-evolving needs.

Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us. Is there anything else
you would like to add?

I would like to close by saying that I feel blessed to be able to do what I
love and be able to share my passion with others.


Company: Code of Life
Name: Hosanna De Linares
Email: [email protected]
Web Address: www.code-of-life.com
Address: 328 Crandon Blvd.
Suite 210. Key Biscayne, FL 33149
Telephone: +1 305 490 4201

Martindale Pharma Announces Acquisition of Viridian Pharma
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsFinance

Martindale Pharma Announces Acquisition of Viridian Pharma

This acquisition is part of Martindale Pharma’s strategy to expand its product portfolio and actively support further growth of its hospital-initiated medicines product range.

Viridian Pharma has developed five products all of which have regulatory approval in the UK and represent first-to-market specialty hospital-prescribed medicines. The product portfolio consists of caffeine citrate injection and caffeine citrate oral solution for apnoea of prematurity in pre-term babies, sodium chloride oral solution for correction of hypernatremia in infants, sodium citrate oral solution for the prevention of respiratory complications in women undergoing caesarean sections and peppermint water for symptomatic relief of minor upper digestive complaints.

Martindale Pharma has been working with Viridian Pharma to manufacture and market the two key caffeine citrate products, and has built a strong market share of the neonatology or Special Care Baby Units in the UK over the past 10 years, exclusively using the Martindale/Viridian caffeine citrate range. Viridian Pharma will be immediately combined with Martindale Pharma’s existing growing business, which has an established UK and international footprint.

Michael Harris, Chief Executive Officer of Martindale Pharma, commented: “Martindale Pharma’s strategy is to build leading positions in defined business segments where there is a high unmet medical need and a demand for improved product presentations. This acquisition enables us to expand and strengthen our product range of essential medicines. Viridian has created a portfolio of valuable products which are a very good fit for our hospital-initiated medicines portfolio and can be marketed through our UK organisation as well as our international partner network.”

Mike Lanning, a founder director of Viridian Pharma, added: “Through the successful collaboration on our caffeine citrate range, Martindale Pharma has demonstrated the capability to ensure these important medicines are preferentially used in vulnerable patients. We are delighted that such a strong business partner has acquired the company and will support and develop the product range into the future.”

REALOGIS Real Estate Logistics Fund-Germany Acquires Logistics Property in Bielefeld
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsFinance

REALOGIS Real Estate Logistics Fund-Germany Acquires Logistics Property in Bielefeld

The property, which extends over 4,419 square metres of warehouse and office space, is used by Deutsche Post DHL Group to operate a mechanised delivery site (German: MechZB) for parcels. Completed in 2013, the property sold for an amount in the double-digit millions.

With this latest addition included, the portfolio of the REALOGIS Real Estate Logistics Fund-Germany has grown to a total volume of around 130 million euros within a six-month period. The property just bought brings the number of fund assets up to eight. It is planned to spend another 150 million euros on acquisitions before the end of 2016.

“The prestigious occupier, Deutsche Post DHL Group, the long remaining lease term, and the great location make this logistics property a top investments in line with our fund strategy,” said Bodo Hollung, Managing Director of REALOGIS Real Estate GmbH.

The logistics property, which was completed in 2013, is located at Südring 98 in Bielefeld’s southern district of Brackwede on a plot of 15,000 square metres. The site comes with convenient access both to the town centre of Bielefeld and to the nearest motorway interchange (A2/A23). The mechanised delivery site in Bielefeld is the second of its kind in the portfolio of the REALOGIS Real Estate Logistics Fund-Germany, while the pre-acquisition audit for a third one is already in progress.

Launched in 2015 as real estate special AIF, the REALOGIS Real Estate Logistics Fund-Germany invests in new logistics properties marked by a high alternative use potential and located in well-established locations, but will also invest in existing properties distinguished by great locations and a high degree of attraction to occupiers.

The portfolio strategy aims for the greatest possible diversification in regard to size, age and location of the real estate as well as in regard to remaining lease terms. The investment volume of the fund is c. 300 million euros.

For further information, please visit: www.realogis-realestate.de

Finest in Finance
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsFinance

Finest in Finance

We are partners with a number of international firms including Metastock, SAS, Microsoft, Citrix, Face Group, and Hootsuite. Forrester Research highlighted our efforts in the field of Natural Language Processing, Big Data, and Text Analytics for Arabic language in a report published on November 2015 entitled “The Gulf Cooperative Council’s Big Data Opportunity: How The GCC Can Use Big Data to Be More Competitive”.

In regards to the financial areas, our company launched a portal for financial market analysis and training. The project merged applications of information technology and financial market analysis in a unique portal.

The portal provides our customers with e-training courses and lectures to learn how to use technical analysis software like Metastock and Xenith in order to help them take the right decisions during their trading.

The portal also offers the possibility to attend our training programs and lectures via the internet using live webinars and virtual classroom technologies. These technologies enable the trainees to attend lectures remotely from any place, using any computer or smart phone or a tablet PC. This is achieved by using Citrix e-collaboration technologies for live broadcasting and online collaboration. Recorded lectures and webinars are also available through an integrated Learning Management System.

In addition to this portal, we offer to our clients other consultancy services which merge information technology, financial market analysis software, finance, economics and business. In this respect we offer consultancy in using information technology and financial market analysis software for financial and investment institutions and private traders. We also develop information technology solutions and software for corporations working in financial markets. Our hands-on training, support, and customisation for Metastock software is used in financial market analysis. Moreover, we support media and business institutions with financial reports and economic indicators utilising financial market analysis software.

Looking ahead to the remainder of 2016 and beyond, we are working on utilising big data analytics and social media analytics to provide our customers in the financial sector with insights and indicators that help them in sensing and measuring the market trends and taking the proper decisions. In this respect, we have developed a Sentiment Analysis API for Standard Arabic language and Kuwaiti dialect. We have also developed a social media analytics system optimised for Standard Arabic language and Kuwaiti Dialect. These systems can be utilised to analyse the investors’ trends, sentiment, and tone in relation to financial markets, stocks, news and other events affecting the local and regional financial market landscape.

We are also focusing on Social Trading by merging our experience in information technology, social media analytics, and financial markets to provide our clients with a robust interactive social trading environment which can be applied to local, regional, and international financial markets.

Company: Information Age for I.T. Consultations
Name: Dr. Salah Alnajem
Email: [email protected]
Web Address: www.information-age-consulting.com
Address: Ali Tower, Floor 7, Office 9, Abdullah Al Mubarak Street, Al
Qiblah, Kuwait City, Kuwait
Telephone: 965 90097970

NAS Invest and BlueRock Fund Acquire Residential Properties Worth EUR 50 Million
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsFinance

NAS Invest and BlueRock Fund Acquire Residential Properties Worth EUR 50 Million

Overall, NAS Invest and BlueRock Fund have acquired close to 200 residential units across the Berlin districts Charlottenburg, Wilmersdorf, Tiergarten and Mitte over the first six months of the year. The two partners expect to invest another EUR 100 million over the next years. NAS Invest is responsible for property asset management and the implementation of the individual project strategies, while BlueRock is in charge of AIFM compliant fund management and reporting.

“Our deep network enabled us to acquire these residential properties in Berlin off market. We will now modernise and reposition them in line with our fund strategy,” says Nikolai Dëus-von Homeyer, managing director at NAS Invest.

“The Berlin residential market still has huge growth potential. Our ability to leverage a local network enables us to identify unique investment opportunities that stand out in the European market including from a risk return perspective,” adds Ronny Pifko, director and founder of BlueRock Fund.

NAS Invest and BlueRock Fund target core plus and value add properties across German metropolitan regions and more particularly in Berlin for the “NAS Berlin Residential Growth” fund.

Please go to www.nas-invest.com and www.bluerockfund.com for additional information.

Beacon Rail Acquires Ascendos Rail Leasing
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsFinance

Beacon Rail Acquires Ascendos Rail Leasing

The combined Beacon and Ascendos portfolio includes 225 locomotives and over 1,000 freight wagons on lease in the UK, Scandinavia, Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland and Germany, 55 passenger train units on lease in the UK and Germany, 67 double decker coaches on lease in Denmark, and 13 sets of Mark 5 coaches which will be operated by TransPennine Express in the UK.

Commenting on the closing, Ted Gaffney, Chief Executive Officer of Beacon, said: “The closing on the acquisition of Ascendos marks the beginning of a new chapter for Beacon Rail. We are committed to providing quality, state of the art rolling stock to the UK and European freight and passenger markets and welcome the Ascendos employees to the Beacon family.”

Pamplona Capital Management (“Pamplona”) acquired Beacon in May 2014 through Pamplona Capital Partners III, LP, a 2011 vehicle with $2.7 billion of committed capital. Since closing, Beacon has been an active acquirer of assets through portfolio acquisitions, the placement of new build orders and the closing of sale / leaseback transactions with various freight and passenger operators, significantly increasing the scale of the portfolio and diversifying both the lessee and asset base.

Committed debt financing for the transaction has been provided by ING Bank and Deutsche Bank AG, London Branch. Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP and Lowenstein Sandler LLP acted as legal counsel for Beacon and Pamplona. Clifford Chance LLP acted as legal counsel for the lenders.

Winners Directory
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsFinance

Winners Directory

Business Elite CEO of the Year 2016
Company: ADVFN PLC
Email: [email protected]
Web Address: http://uk.advfn.com/
Address: 26 Throgmorton Street, London EC2N 2AN
Telephone: 44 (0) 207 0700 961

Business Elite CEO of the Year 2016
Company: Crescent Petroleum
Email: [email protected]
Web Address: www.crescentpetroleum.com
Address: P.O. Box 211, Corniche Al Buhaira, Sharjah,
United Arab Emirates
Telephone: 971 (6) 572 7000

Business Elite CEO of the Year 2016
Company: Maria Mallaband Care Group Ltd
Name: Philip Burgan
Email: [email protected]
Web Address: www.mmcg.co.uk
Address: Westcourt, Gelderd Road, Leeds LS12 6DB
Telephone: 0113 2382690

Business Elite 2016
Company: Moneyweb Limited
Name: Paul Robinson
Email: [email protected]
Web Address: www.moneyweb-ifa.com
Address: 11 Betton Business Park, Racecourse Road,
East Ayton, Scarborough, YO13 9HD
Telephone: 01723 378234

Business Elite CEO of the Year 2016
Name: Kelvin Kirby
Company: Technology Associates Limited
Email: [email protected]
Web Address: www.techassoc.com
Address: Technology House, Shottery Brook Office Park,
Timothy’s Bridge Road, Stratford-upon-Avon,
Warks CV37 9NR
Telephone: 44 (0) 1789 292 150

Business Elite MD of the Year 2016
Company: Delivered Health Solutions. Ltd
Name: Barbara McCall Meeks
Email: [email protected]
Web Address: www.deliveredhealthsolutions.co.uk
Address:The Bridge Business Centre,Cheshire
House,Gorsey Road, Widness,WA8 0RP
Telephone: 0151 422 9335

Business Elite MD of the Year 2016
Company: Hunters Solutions Limited
Name: Mark Hunt
Email: [email protected]
Web Address: www.hunterssolutions.co.uk
Address: 15 Fish Street, Northampton,
NN1 2AA
Telephone AND 01604 621110

Business Elite MD of the Year 2016
Company: Wick Hill Ltd
Name: Ken Ward
Email: [email protected]
Web Address: www.wickhill.com
Address: River Court, Albert Drive, Woking, Surrey,
GU21 5RP
Telephone: 01483 227600

2016 Tax Firm of the Year
Company: Lamont Pridmore
Name: Graham Lamont
Email: [email protected]
Web Address: www.lamontpridmore.co.uk
Address: Offices throughout Cumbria
Telephone: 0800 234 6978

Five Ways that SMEs Can Prepare for Brexit
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsFinance

Five Ways that SMEs Can Prepare for Brexit

 #1: Fix International Money Transfers

The very spectre of Brexit has caused shockwaves across the currency markets, so it seems likely that a ‘leave’ vote would have a significant impact on the value of sterling. According to expert Ali Steed, once of the biggest complications for SMEs would lie in sending currency overseas, thanks to an almost inevitable short-term weakening of the pound. Although this may not be the worst news for companies with little interest in overseas markets, any enterprises that deal with companies abroad, either to import or export, would certainly feel the fallout.

The solution is surprisingly simple: you need to use a currency service rather than the bank. In doing so, you’ll be able to make sizeable savings on your international money transfers, and may even be able to negotiate fixed rates for a set period of time. This will help you to plan ahead and lessen the impact on your business, leaving you clear of the current and able to strike out for the shore.

#2: Reassess Employee Contracts
EU law has played a significant role in shaping the rules and regulations that constitute employment law within our own country, and without its strictures in place, the format of current contracts could be open to amendment. Although the government may choose to preserve what is already set down, there would be no onus on it to do so, so experts suggest looking at existing documents with a Brexit in mind.

Holiday pay and rest breaks should be particular areas of focus, and you’ll need to decide whether or not you would want to amend these if changes were to be implemented on the heels on an EU exit. Although your existing contracts would have to remain unchanged, as this is what both parties have agreed to, this could offer some room for manoeuvre in the event of employing new members of staff.

Furthermore, you will need to ensure that any non-British workers would be legally permitted to remain within your employ should the country vote to leave. It may be worth talking over these issues with any members of staff concerned, and forewarning them if you feel it likely that a visa or work permit may become necessary. Alternatively, if you feel it unlikely that they would be able to remain in their positions, you may want to consider how you would fill their job roles in the event of their departure from your company.

#3: Start to Budget
The likelihood is that a vote to leave the European Union would cause significant financial upheaval for many British businesses, at least in the short-term. This would likely necessitate a reduction in expenditure, and it can be handy to see where you can cut costs in advance of the event itself. Even if such measures prove redundant, you’ll still have minimised your outlay and increased profitability, so you have little to lose by reviewing your spending.

So where should you start? Your energy bills ought to be an early point of focus, and you may find that you can save a sizeable amount simply by changing your provider. On top of this, it may be a good time to review your insurance policy, and to look at whether a new supplier could offer you more competitive terms than your current one. Although these actions may prove time consuming, the more money you save, the stronger the position you’ll be in if uncertainty reigns.

#4: Communicate with Your Overseas Clients
Planning ahead is part of running a successful business, but when uncertainty looms, its importance escalates. If we are to leave the European Union, this could have extensive implications for your relationships with overseas clients, and it’s important to talk over how this might affect you, and how its impact could be lessened.

Open communication is key, and rather than burying your head in the sand, you need to consider the import and export complications that would be caused by a departure. Only by discussing this will you be able to solidify supply chains in advance, so take the time to explore the potential problems that may be caused, and how you and your clients or suppliers can best work around them. This may include forward contracts to ‘fix’ current exchange rates for a period of a year or so, helping to clarify where each of you will stand despite the pervasive uncertainty that surrounds you.

#5: Start to Look Beyond the EU
International trade can be essential to SMEs with growth on their minds, but it needn’t all be tied up with the EU. There are hundreds of countries whose markets you could tap into, and if relations between existing partners become muddied by the after-effects of a departure, it’s handy to have a diverse client base in place to fall back on. This means that now might be the ideal time to start expanding your horizons.

As expert Martin Campbell explains: “If the UK does vote for Brexit, then trading with the EU will become harder. Small British businesses will have to develop new markets and opportunities.”

Whatever the outcome of June’s referendum, the only thing we can reliably predict is that it will have consequences. How greatly they affect you, however, is down to you, and so we’ve given you the tools to stand firm against whatever the future holds. Will you choose to use them?

London and San Francisco Agencies team up to Create International Challenger Network
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsFinance

London and San Francisco Agencies team up to Create International Challenger Network

Developing a presence in the U.S. market has been a key strategic goal for VCCP and coincides with MUH-TAY-ZIK | HOF-FER’s rapid growth and high-profile account wins since its inception in 2010. In the past year MUH-TAY-ZIK | HOF-FER has more than doubled its staff from 40 to 85 people, with plans to open an office in New York City, and increased its revenue by 88% from $9 million to $17 million. VCCP intends to further grow its presence in Europe and Australia and MUH-TAY-ZIK | HOF-FER in the Americas and Asia.

The partnership between the two agencies heralds the creation of a “Challenger Network for Challenger Brands” with both sharing creative and business objectives centred on challenger brands, that will be amplified into greater global opportunities. VCCP’s current clients (O2,BMW Motorcycles, Molson Coors, and easyJet), will be joining the likes of AAA, Audi, method, Netflix, OXO, and SoFi from the roster of MUH-TAY-ZIK | HOF-FER.

The acquisition has been financed by Providence Equity Partners, a private equity investor in media and communications businesses, which acquired Chime Communications in 2015. Terms of the deal are not disclosed.

Adrian Coleman, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of VCCP, commented:

“This marks a landmark achievement for VCCP, which has experienced rapid growth since it was founded 14 years ago. We’ve grown to become an increasingly global advertising agency of 500 people and continue to deliver disruptive and creative campaigns for our clients.

“We believe that creativity is the biggest multplier for any business and together with MUH-TAY-ZIK| HOF-FER we will be able to deliver campaigns all over the world as we continue to expand and grow the business.”

John Matejczyk, Co-Founder and Executive Creative Director at MUH-TAY-ZIK | HOF-FER, commented:

“At MUH-TAY-ZIK | HOF-FER, we look forward to working with VCCP to realise our shared visions, grow the business and to unleash creativity for our clients.”

Matt Hofherr, Co-Founder and Director of Strategy at MUH-TAY-ZIK | HOF-FER, commented:

“VCCP is a perfect fit for our agency. We share a like-minded attitude,culture and unique dedication to the brands we work with.”

Andrew Tisdale, Managing Director at Providence Equity Partners, added:

“This is a really exciting combination for both agencies. John, Matt, Adrian and Charles have a really clear view of how they will collaborate closely to bring great ideas to their clients around the world and build a strong global business together.”

Corinthia Hotels Announces the Acquisition of the Grand Hotel Astoria
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsFinance

Corinthia Hotels Announces the Acquisition of the Grand Hotel Astoria, Brussels

The Corinthia Grand Hotel Astoria will comprise 121 bedrooms and suites, as well as extensive banqueting, dining and spa facilities.

Situated in a prime location on Rue Royale in the heart of the city, the hotel was built in 1909 at the request of King Leopold II. It was for many years considered to be among the world’s finest luxury hotels and has welcomed a number of illustrious guests during the course of its history including former British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill and former US President Dwight Eisenhower.

Corinthia is committed to restoring the property, which has been vacant for the past decade, to its former glory.
Corinthia chairman Alfred Pisani said:

“We have earned an unparalleled reputation for restoring buildings of historical value and turning them into luxury hotels. The Corinthia Grand Hotel Astoria will be no exception.

“We aim to make this hotel the best in Brussels – committing the same passion and attention to detail as we have done with our hotel redevelopments in London, Budapest, St Petersburg and other major cities. We have full confidence in the city and are proud to have acquired such a gem in the heart of Europe.”

The Corinthia Grand Hotel Astoria’s façade and ground floor enjoy listed protection status, though the upper bedroom floors are currently stripped down to brick work awaiting full reconstruction. The property also includes adjoining land upon which the current structure will be extended. Works shall commence once all designs are completed.
Further luxury hotel projects are expected to be announced in the coming weeks to complement Corinthia’s growing portfolio of luxury hotels in prime locations.

The Value of Mergers and Acquisitions Targeting Industrials Companies
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsFinance

The Value of Mergers and Acquisitions Targeting Industrials Companies

By contrast, volume actually declined from 12,223 to 12,089 over the same timeframe. 2016 has gotten off to a fairly slow start; in the first three months of this year USD 264,287 million has been invested across 4,684 transactions. If the first quarter is a sign of things to come H1 2016 is unlikely to be a record breaker and will probably bring to an end two consecutive six month periods of increasing values. The result is hardly surprising as 2016 has been fairly quiet in terms of M&A activity across the board so far. Zephyr’s Global Q1 2016 report shows dealmaking of USD 861,749 million across 20,040 deals worldwide in the first three months of the year, marking a decline on both fronts from Q4 2015 and Q1 2015.

Despite the fact that 2016 has not been a recordbreaker thus far, either globally or within the industrials segment, the latter has actually seen a few sizable transactions signed off. All of the year’s top ten deals to date were worth over USD 3,000 million, while one broke the USD 40,000 million barrier. This was ChemChina’s USD 43,000 million agreement to acquire Swiss agricultural pesticides and fertilisers maker Syngenta via its CNAC Saturn (NL) subsidiary. This was followed by a transaction worth USD 11,300 million as the Sherwin-Williams Company agreed to buy Minneapolis-headquartered paint, coatings and coating intermediates manufacturer the Valspar Corporation. Third place was taken by a deal worth USD 5,729 million as Anhui Water Resources Development Co signed on the dotted line to take over Anhui Construction Engineering Group Co. If transactions of similar sizes can continue to be announced between now and the end of June, there is still hope that dealmaking can reach similar levels to those recorded in 2016.

A number of world regions have been targeted in industrials deals worth a significant amount in 2016 to date. The most valuable region is the Far East and Central Asia, which has received investment of USD 114,241 million, placing it well ahead of second-placed Western Europe with USD 75,817 million. North America was third with USD 53,725 million. Despite the gulf between these regional values, the three regions were actually targeted in a very similar number of deals; Far East and Central Asia topped the rankings with 1,621, followed by Western Europe with 1,419 and North America with 1,000. The Far East and Central Asia’s impressive value result is not surprising given that companies in the region were targeted in four of the quarter’s ten largest transactions. The most valuable of these was the aforementioned Anhui Construction Engineering Group Co deal, while others targeted in high value deals include CITIC Real Estate, Liaoning Zhongwang Group and Inotera Memories. The USD 75,817 invested in Western European industrials firms was significantly boosted by the USD 43,000 million Syngenta deal, which was the largest deal signed off worldwide across all sectors in Q1 2016.

Although 2016 has not exactly sprinted out of the blocks in terms of deal activity in the industrials sector, there is every chance that a few more deals on a similar scale to those mentioned could be announced over the coming months. This would undoubtedly have a considerable effect on overall results for the sector and could even push results closer to the levels recorded throughout 2016. However, it is worth noting that 2016 hit record highs in terms of dealmaking worldwide and will likely prove a hard act to follow.

Company: Bureau van Dijk
E-Mail: [email protected]
Web Address: www.bvdinfo.com

Study Proves Female Board Members Improve Share Price
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsFinance

Study Proves Female Board Members Improve Share Price

Michael Ferrary’s ‘Observatory on the feminisation of companies’, a nine-year study into the feminisation of business, has exposed that the 15 companies in the French CAC40 with the most women managers have significantly outperformed the 25 other listed companies.

Shares in these firms have risen by 60% from 2006 to 2016, despite the overall benchmark falling by 4.43% in the period.

Ferrary says: “The lesson businesses must learn is that having female managers on the board not only lends itself to the firm’s reputation, but also drastically affects its bottom line. By bringing in top female talent, companies are both increasing their intake of professionals and staying ahead of the curve. This applies not only at the top levels of business, but across the whole spectrum and around the world. In countries such as the UK, for example, only 2% of CEOs in all its listed companies are female, rising to 4% for senior managers – but this needs to change if businesses are looking to outperform their competition.”

He says: “It’s time for managers to sit up and take notice of the facts, not only for their own profitability, but for the many other benefits. Female board members are likely to increase a company’s reach – or at least effectiveness – due to their influence, yet this is not where their impact stops. Placing inspiring women at the top could motivate other female members of staff, directly enhancing their individual performances. And with business so competitive, can companies really afford not to be strategically planning their board room gender ratios to maximise their bottom lines?”

Capital Partnership to Acquire Northgate Capital
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsFinance

Capital Partnership to Acquire Northgate Capital

Religare, the India-based diversified financial services group, acquired a majority interest in Northgate in 2010. Completion of the transaction is subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions precedent, including certain regulatory approvals. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Founded in 2000, Northgate is a leading venture capital and private equity firm with $4.8 billion in assets under management (AUM) as of 1 April 2016 on behalf of institutional and private investors in North America, EMEA and Australia. The firm makes both direct company venture capital investments, where it leverages its network of global relationships to help create value for its portfolio companies, and indirect company investments by investing in venture capital and private equity funds. Northgate portfolio companies represent some of the most successful start-up companies across multiple verticals including Telecom, Fintech and Media. Northgate portfolio companies have had multiple IPOs and successful exits.

The Capital Partnership has maintained a strong relationship with Northgate for the past 12 years and its managed funds collectively represent one of the largest investors in the Northgate funds. The proposed acquisition will build on The Capital Partnership’s growing venture capital and private equity investment portfolio, which currently accounts for around 25 percent of its assets under management, and reinforces the firm’s commitment to the US market. This acquisition will enhance the alignment of interests between investors and shareholders of Northgate, creating “a firm owned by an investor, for the investors.” Following the acquisition, Northgate will retain its investment and operational autonomy as distinct from The Capital Partnership.

In conjunction with the transaction, it is anticipated that Ali Ojjeh, Managing Partner of The Capital Partnership and a 12-year member of Northgate’s Limited Partner Advisory Board, will assume the additional role of Chairman of Northgate. Dr. Hosein Khajeh-Hosseiny, a current member of Northgate’s Management Committee, will continue to lead the firm as its Managing Partner and as CEO. Following the closing of the transaction, it is proposed that each of Mr. Ojjeh and Dr. Khajeh-Hosseiny will participate as members of the Northgate Investment Committee, together with Brent Jones and Thomas Vardell, two of the co-founders of Northgate.

Commenting on the proposed acquisition, Ali Ojjeh, Managing Partner and co-founder, The Capital Partnership, said:
“The Capital Partnership has a successful 18-year track-record in venture capital and private equity investments, which is highlighted by our existing 12-year relationship with Northgate. Silicon Valley plays an increasingly important role in global value creation across all sectors which is highlighted by technology companies’ share of the S&P 500, which has more than doubled in the last 30 years and represents approximately 20% of the index today. Technology remains a significant driver of global economic output and growth and we believe that expanding our commitment to Northgate will help our investors capitalize on the growth opportunities in one of the world’s major hubs for innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Dr. Hosein Khajeh-Hosseiny, Managing Partner, Northgate, said: “We are excited to expand our collaboration with The Capital Partnership, which manages funds with longstanding investments in our (Northgate) funds. Since purchasing its ownership stake in 2010, Religare has made tangible contributions to our institutionalization and the growth of our network beyond the US. We are delighted with Religare’s choice of The Capital Partnership as our buyer. With a strong understanding of Northgate, global technology and capital markets as well as investors in start-ups and funds, The Capital Partnership is well-suited to help us build on our growth and network to fully realize our potential as a strong, long-term, value-creating platform for our ecosystem of partners.”

Sunil Godhwani, Chairman and Managing Director, Religare, said: “Given the tremendous future growth potential that India offers for a diversified financial services platform like ours, we have taken a strategic view to consolidate and refocus our energies on our existing lending and other domestic businesses. Before deciding to divest our stake in Northgate and arriving at the best possible course of action, we had carefully considered a number of factors keeping in mind the best interests of the investors and the franchise. Our partnership over the years with Northgate has been enriching and we extend our best wishes to the team for their future endeavors.”

For The Capital Partnership, the deal was headed by Ali Ojjeh and led by Amy Harvey, head of legal and compliance, Casey Gordon, head of private equity and business development, and Tim Savage, CFO. Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP acted as legal advisors to Religare. Morrison & Foerster LLP served as legal advisor to The Capital Partnership.

The Capital Partnership’s team will continue to work with Northgate to help identify resources necessary to build on its leadership position, expand globally, and continue to deliver world-class investments to its investors.

Have Hope and Don’t Give Up
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsFinance

Have Hope and Don’t Give Up

Link to article on Wealth and Finance Magazine Here

In a nutshell, Allied Wallet’s astounding Next Gen Payment Gateway allows for simpler integrations for merchants and payment processors. Following on from the firm’s recent 10th anniversary, Dr. Andy Khawaja reflects on the phenomenal impact his firm has had and where he sees it going in the future, such as plans to put it on the New York Stock Exchange by the second quarter of 2017.

The biggest problem today is that banks are not giving entrepreneurs the chance to invest in any
businesses, but Allied Wallet invest in them and enable them to succeed. By doing this, Allied
Wallet are creating more jobs and helping entrepreneurs fulfil their dreams. Dr. Andy Khawaja’s
message is for entrepreneurs not to give up, but to have hope, even if they fail and encounter
problems on the way.

How would you introduce your services to someone who has never heard of Allied Wallet before?
I would describe Allied Wallet in three steps. Firstly, we are a company who can accommodate B2B merchants in a single shopping cart used for transactions. Secondly, you can be in anywhere in the world and we can carry out your  transaction in its local currency. Lastly, but certainly not least, we have a state-of-the-art gateway to handle any sort of transaction or payment method, and is also one of the safest tools for the prevention of fraud and ensuring the safety of our customers.

As a result of the quality of the services we provide, we have expanded our company to having offices around the world, including London, California, Frankfurt, Hong Kong and India. In a nutshell, Allied Wallet’s astounding Next Gen Payment Gateway allows for simpler integrations. Following on from the firm’s recent 10th anniversary, Dr. Andy Khawaja reflects on the phenomenal impact his firm has had and where he sees it going in the future, such as plans to put it on the New York Stock Exchange by the second quarter of 2017. 

Following on from celebrating Allied Wallet’s 10th year anniversary earlier this year, what reflections do you have about the growth of the company? 

Allied Wallet are constantly growing and I am pleased to say that we signed up with Merrill Lynch six months ago, and we are also looking at putting Allied Wallet on the New York Stock Exchange by the second quarter of 2017. The future of the company is based on creating even more opportunities for entrepreneurs and allowing an even greater number of merchants to process online. I want to make sure that we can spread to more regions and make sure that everybody will have the access to secure payments via mobile or online.

How does Allied Wallet approach clients?

Allied Wallet serve all of our clients in a very professional way. We try to understand what is they are selling, what it is they have and trying to achieve, and where their customers are located so we can accommodate them. For example, if you try and serve customers in Germany and Scandinavian
countries, they tend to use payment methods like Giropay or Klarna, instead of Mastercard or Visa. So what we do, is include that as a payment option for our services, and in this way we can increasingly accommodate them. The view of Allied Wallet is that we do not have any competition, as I believe that what we are doing in the market is very unique. We provide services centred on what the customer needs, and customise them in a way that can accommodate the merchants and make sure that they do not shop around. When you go to a bank, all they do for you is to activate an account for you. With Allied Wallet, we can accept almost every payment on the earth, and customise it to work for them. We have 155 million users worldwide, so when you have the Allied Wallet logo on it, you have options that our wallet members can start using. It is a no brainer really!

What opportunities are you looking out for at the moment?

Allied Wallet are looking at what has happened with Alibaba, in terms of their virtual mall which is doing very well in China at the moment. So we are basically looking at having a similar product that is very similar to Amazon, Alibaba and eBay but which is exclusive to Allied Wallet. It is going to be hosting about 3 million shops in there, hopefully getting a billion users per day within 72 months.

What is the biggest problem facing entrepreneurs today?

The biggest problem is that banks are not giving entrepreneurs the chance to invest in any businesses today. Allied Wallet believe in business and invest in them and give them to chance. We give them a virtual line of credit where we open the account without a deposit or a security, whereas banks just say ‘no’. We say ‘yes’, and invest in businesses with our product and give them the chance to succeed. If you do not invest today, they may never will. 

What impact is Allied Wallet having on the world today?

We have had a truly phenomenal impact. We are creating more jobs, and are helping more and more entrepreneurs fulfil their ideas. We have given them the chance, and invested in their idea so we can help them build up their idea, build up their business and help grow the economy.

What advice would you impart to inspire upcoming entrepreneurs?

I would simply say to have hope and do not give up. If all the doors are closing on your face, still do not give up. One of the most important things from my experience is not being afraid to fail. Failing is not a loss, but at the start. Nobody succeeds straight way, but we all encounter problems along the way

CFO of the month
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsFinance

CFO of the month

First of all, could you give us a brief background about Bel Brands USA?

How has your subsidiary contributed to the phenomenal success of the Bel Group? Bel Brands USA were formed in 1970 and are headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Perhaps the most impressive facts about us is we have doubled growth in the past four years, making the U.S a significant contributor to Bel’s overall $2.8 billion in global sales in 2014. This growth is fuelled by the success of Bel Brands USA’s most popular brands, which are Mini Babybel and The Laughing Cow. As a global leader with over 150 years of industry experience and products ‘Bringing Smiles’ to 400 million consumers annually, Bel has 28 manufacturing sites worldwide, and three of these are in in the United States. These are located in Leitchfield, Kentucky, Little Chute, Wisconsin, as well as our newest plant in Brookings, South Dakota, which opened its doors for production in July, 2014. As a company that is continually focused on innovation and growth, Bel has big plans to expand its portfolio over the coming years to meet the ever changing needs of consumers and continue its mission of “Sharing Smiles” around the world.

As CFO, are there are specific financial undertakings that have been instrumental to your success?

Specifically speaking, I firmly believe that our use of SAP software has been key to our success over the past number of years. We have implemented SAP very successfully since 2010 and this has grown to become the back bone of our company from an ERP standpoint. As a result, we now have a very good level of integration from all functions. We are now at a phase where we are implementing a lot of additional applications that complement SAP, and will achieve more automation and state of the art reporting for our business partners. As such, this will allow them to the best decision possible for the company from a value creation standpoint

Are there any major deals or operations which you believe have helped your company grow and succeed even further?

In terms of deals, we acquired the Boursin brand from Unilever back in 2008 and it’s been a fantastic add to our existing brand portfolio. Since then, we have grown the brand a lot through focusing on our Boursin puck business and also through couple innovations.

At the moment, Bel brands is very excited to announce also the launch of The Laughing Cow—Cheese Dippers, which is currently happening now. We worked really hard to get the dippers cheese snack — soft cheese packages with tiny breadsticks — from Europe to the United States, and this took two years as the company needed to consider what changes would be needed to appeal to consumers in the US. Furthermore, the company is also interested in making another acquisition in the US at some point if the target is relevant to our brand portfolio.

Since your began at Bel Brands USA in 2008, you have been a key contributor in growing Bel Brands from $150 MM in net sales to $400MM. Can you tell us about this, and how your role has evolved throughout this period?

Generally speaking, my key role as the CFO has been building the finance team capabilities. When I joined, finance was accounting only and resources were mainly spread out between our different locations. My initiative was to centralise all finance functions into Chicago, where I revamped the accounting department with strong talents and created an FP&A department (financial planning and analysis) in order to manage budgeting process, partner with our business leaders and provide financial support to all our key business decisions. We have now an efficient and scalable team, with only a limited head count increase since 2008, despite the company doubling in size.

Furthermore, we have also put in place a category finance role to help marketing with innovation, new products and new customer decisions. This partnership has been a tremendous success, and FP&A has been valued as a critical asset to the organisation.

As the US subsidiary of a French listed group, we are not subject to The Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which protects investors from the possibility of fraudulent accounting activities by corporation. Nonetheless, we still have to strengthen our internal control resources and process as it was somehow very limited. In that respect, we have created a dedicated department to build internal control culture within the organisation and also roll out key initiatives, with the right level of balance to controls in order to keep the entrepreneurial spirit and agility we have within our team while putting processes in place. On the whole, we found that this has been working fine and we have great momentum from our company employees working on those initiatives.

Alongside these implementations, we have also put in place a hedging strategy in order to provide cash flow visibility to our shareholders, which is critical given the high volatility we have seen on the commodity markets those past few years (record highs then record lows, etc.). This took a great deal of education as this was first time ever the company was implementing that initiative, but we had strong support from our Paris team.

As a core member of Bel Brands leadership team, what have you done to define and implement company vision, mission and values?

Looking back on my time here, I can honestly say that I very much enjoy being a core member of the Bel Brands leadership team, primarily because it is defined and implemented by a strong vision, mission and set of values that we live by every day. As a member of the U.S. Leadership Team, I am also an ambassador of the Bel Values. Our employer values are “Dare, Commit and Care”, and as a leader, we must be the examples of these values and live by those values. You can display and train your people on the company values but nothing is better than when you walk to talk.

How has the firm grown and developed over the years?

Companies across all industries have had it difficult since the financial crisis, and it hasn’t been a stellar ride for our company either over the past eight years. As in any start-up company, we experienced hyper growth during the first couple years when the priority was to serve customer at any price. Unfortunately growth is hiding a lot of sins and some important topics are put on the side of the road as priority is toward growth.

From my experience, start-ups definitely need to take a step back, build all the key pillars of their organisation, culture, tools and processes and avoid becoming “too big too fast”. This is particularly important as you have to be ready when growth slows to mitigate turmoil and need the flexibility to put the company back to growth in the smoothest and quickest way possible. This involves taking the time to put in place a long term strategy and sticking to it is critical in the company success. In 2013 and 2014, we had a slowdown with one of our business and also some major projects going on with the opening of our new Brookings mega Mini Babybel plant. We are now back to high and sustainable growth, well prepared for the future with strong teams and have delivered a very solid 2015. And the good thing is, we still have a lot of growth potential and very exciting projects on the agenda. I can tell you that ‘routine’ is definitely not a word in Bel Brands dictionary!

Can you tell us a bit about the launch of new products and what this entails?

What has been your experience of launching the various new flavours of the Laughing Cow launched over the years? This year we are proud to have two new launches within our one of our most popular brands—The Laughing Cow. One is a new flavour and one is a completely new product offering within the brands. We introduced the new Asiago cheese flavour and it has been working quite successfully with our consumers. As a company, we make a strategic effort to be aware of new flavour trends and products, so we can provide our consumers with what they want. In our consumer research, we learned that Asiago flavour was very popular, so we are happy that we could develop this flavour within our Laughing Cow brand.

As mentioned earlier, we are very excited about this launch of The Laughing Cow—Cheese Dippers, as it meets the needs of our consumers who love The Laughing Cow, but desired to have the product in a portable format that meets their on-the-go lifestyle.

Finally, what does the future hold for your firm? Bel is a consistently growing company, driven primarily by the strong momentum of its core brands and international sales. This continuous growth reflects the relevance of the company’s sales and marketing strategy, as well as the strength of its distribution network. Our ambition is to double in size by 2025, and to meet this challenge, Bel relies on the power of its brands. We are continually focused on R&D and new product innovation to continue to bring our consumers new products, flavours and cheese formats that will continue to make Bel one of the top three branded cheese makers in the world. We also recognise as a company, that having a presence in new, emerging global markets is key to growing our business internationally.

Finally, what does the future hold for your firm?

Bel is a consistently growing company, driven primarily by the strong momentum of its core brands and international sales. This continuous growth reflects the relevance of the company’s sales and marketing strategy, as well as the strength of its distribution network. Our ambition is to double in size by 2025, and to meet this challenge, Bel relies on the power of its brands. We are continually focused on R&D and new product innovation to continue to bring our consumers new products, flavours and cheese formats that will continue to make Bel one of the top three branded cheese makers in the world. We also recognise as a company, that having a presence in new, emerging global markets is key to growing our business internationally.

Website: www.belbrandsusa.com

CEO of the Month- Paul Kehoe
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsFinance

CEO of the Month- Paul Kehoe

The airport, which is located in the constantly growing city of Birmingham, sees around 100,000 aircraft movements every year. Paul explains a little more about his role as CEO and how he ensures that each of these movements goes without incident.

“My role as CEO is as chief plate spinner, keeping all of the metaphorical plates spinning, whether they be with regards to security, environment, passenger, local government, or even staff. There are many different aspects to my role, and it’s my overall job to make sure that these different sections of the airport are constantly in harmony.

“No two days are ever the same, there are changes happening all the time within the airport and as such my role changes day by day. My diary is run by a very competent PA, and she feeds me with information and I work from that, managing the company through a series of meetings as the senior ambassador of the company, to get the message out to the world that Birmingham and the surrounding areas are a thriving manufacturing, banking and business region which is growing constantly, and supporting the expansion of the airport.

“Therefore you could call me the principal salesman: selling not only the airport but also the region and its story.”

In addition, one of Paul’s main tasks is leading his team, who are responsible for the day to day running of the airport. Paul explains his management style and how he endeavours to ensure the smooth running of the vast infrastructure over which he presides.

“A large part of my role is managing the team and creating a vision for which they can aim towards, whilst recognising that I do not control all of the rules within the airport, as these are often down to policy makers and other public controlled organisations.

“As such working within the airport can be challenging, but it is a challenge which I believe 90% of the staff working for us relish. As CEO I always look out for staff who will come along on the journey with me and are able to challenge management when they feel appropriate. Additionally, I like my staff to walk the walk: when they say something, they should do it. We have a programme called ‘Great People’, which allows staff to take on additional responsibilities and receive rewards, such as additional bonuses which recognise when they have undertaken tasks which are beyond their role.”

At the airport there are over 8,000 staff, of which just 700 work directly for the airport. The remaining 7,300 are from other firms. Paul explains the role of airport staff and how they function to support these external firms.

“Many of our staff are either in security or back office, and they act as the glue which makes the airport run smoothly, and allows the other staff within the airport to deliver. I find that our staff are highly motivated and ours is a very positive
workspace, which ensures that our staff deliver and are able to support the outside firms working within the airport.”

“In order to work with these firms we have to first persuade them to join us. To do this myself and the aviation development team visit Routes, the international airport convention, once a year, making a 20 minute pitch to
airlines to encourage them to serve the airport. What we sell to them is not the fact that we have a runway or a control tower, because they already know that; what we sell is the fact that we are situated in a growing region, with a strong economy and easy accessibility to regions such as London and Manchester.”

Working with so many firms and dealing with so many different rules and regulations could seem like a challenging task, but as Paul points out, the key is to make it as simple as possible.

“Ultimately I always aim to make everything as simple as possible, because what we are is a transportation mode, we take passengers from one form of transportation and we put them onto another. Our aim is to do that as efficiently
as possible with the least impact on our community, whilst making the most profit possible for our shareholders and asking for the least money from our investors so they get value for money.

“Keeping our message simple is key to running the business, because although the rules and regulations around running an airport can seem quiet challenging, as long as we use a simple approach we can deliver to every one of our stakeholders, which is key. Whilst we aren’t always able to get it right every time we always learn from our mistakes and try and improve all the time.”

Paul adds that the overall mission of the firm is as simple as their message.

“We used to have a highly complicated mission statement, but thinking it over I realised that overall our mission is to deliver across each aspect, whether it is reducing noise, improving services or increasing profit. Most companies say
they will deliver, but ultimately we ensure that we do deliver.

“Many airports want to be the bestof the best airport, however we aim just to ensure that we deliver on what we have promised, because this is the most important factor in securing long term satisfaction for all of our shareholders.”

The biggest challenge in recent years, according to Paul, has been the poor performance of the UK and world economies, and it is one which airports such as his have had to work hard to overcome.

“The poor economic performance of many world economies has seen us going backwards between 2007 and 2010, to a point when we reached a trough in 2010. Now the challenge is to cope with the sudden influx of growth and to maintain that growth within a very uncertain future.

“What we are seeing is significant issues with regards to rising customer service standards, where customers expect more but want to pay less. We are also seeing increasing legislation, mainly with regards to security, which can lead to vast expenditure.

“However, we are seeing a number of growth opportunities worldwide, which is phenomenal considering that many other countries are expanding into aviation development, including India, Indonesia, China and many others. These are generating passengers who want to come to the UK, offering us new opportunities for growth.”

As when this growth occurs new safety and security challenges emerge, but according to Paul this is the airport’s top priority.

“These security and safety challenges mean we have to adapt constantly, putting in increased layers of security and constantly adapting to ensure that we don’t make mistakes and are vigilant at all times, as we want to make sure that passengers have the safest possible journey. We also work with government to ensure that we are always up to date with the latest security laws and regulations.

“We were the first to improve our means of processing bags, for example, to ensure that it is as secure as possible.

“Overall we have always been a very innovative firm, both in terms of security and other aspects of our work, and we aim to stay ahead of any emerging developments as much as possible.

“For example, we have created a revolutionary exploratory area designed within our airport for younger passengers, which attracts younger children and has staff to look after them whilst their parents enjoy the airport.

“The ultimate goal is to be at the forefront of emerging developments and always be as innovative as possible. Some ideas, such as our holographic assistants, have not worked for our passengers, but we have learned from these mistakes and moved on to try new ideas. This approach has kept our airport at the top of the Which? Airport survey, of which we usually come in the top three.”

As an area, Paul believes that Birmingham is going through a renaissance as people realise the city’s proximity to London, which is leading to a revival in manufacturing and other industries.

All of this is bringing increased business to the airport. The region is at the centre of both the UK rail and motorway network, and the Government’s Midlands Powerhouse scheme will help reinvigorate the whole of the Midlands, bringing a number of exciting opportunities, including a HS2 station, as Paul highlights.

“These exciting changes will bring about an integration of road, rail and air, which we have never seen before, and which will provide numerous business opportunities for Birmingham Airport.

“The future looks positive for the airport. As long as GDP remains strong, which it seems to be then we will see continued growth in air travel. So far we have seen 11 new airlines starting to make journeys from Birmingham in the past 12 months, and this looks set to grow in the future. There may be some challenges along the way but as long as we have the right attitude we will be perfectly positioned to take advantage of every growth opportunity that comes our way.”

 

 

CEO of the Month
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsFinance

CEO of the Month

Mr. Vinod Menezes has led Atlantic Subsea with a steady hand at the helm for over 20 years. As the CEO, Mr. Menezes has maximized growth year after year, while maintaining exceptional value to clients. He has been instrumental in providing critical tools to key managers to build great teams within the company.

The company’s success is a well balanced symphony of many parts. Long term relationships built through the years on trust, values and ethics have been key. The company has earned a reputation premium by rendering consistent delivery of honest and quality services to clients, while expecting the same from suppliers.

The company serves a variety of markets ranging from defense, which relies on governmental spending to energy and ports. As some components of the revenue stream are driven by public equity market whims, there is a sense of self hedging between governmental spending and the market environment. Hence at any given time, opportunities for growth are very prevalent. 

Atlantic Subsea is currently in its 23rd year of business. Even though the company has matured, delivering constant and consistent growth does generate its own set of  challenges. Success comes through synergies of corporate team members like key suppliers, bank executives, insurance and surety bond providers. It is critical that all key players are in equitable stride with the company to maintain the equilibrium. Mr. Menezes strives to maintain this balance.

Mr. Menezes emphasizes – “Just as the external corporate team is critical to the growth challenges, talent building and people management is the core of our beliefs. Caring and trusting people are paramount qualities to a value driven company like ours. Well being of our employees, their safety and future are interwoven with our success goals. Every aspect of or service is driven through the psyche of quality, honesty and a quest for improvement. Only when there is a strong consensus within our people of the corporate vision, then only we see an easier path to long term success”.

“Currently, the macroeconomic conditions in the US are favorable. The economy has improved and the market sentiment has been positive. Intermediate term GDP growth stability has been predicted through reliable economic predictors. This sentiment has triggered a positive disposition within the company management”.

Through a span of 2 decades, the company has weathered quite a few storms. It has overcome 3 cycles of economic downturn, only to maintain a steady growth through the years.

“If we manage to maintain a balance between all the key components of the business, we should be assured guaranteed success through the long term. There should be no compromise on rendering quality service and maintaining strong values”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daman Investments Moves into Sports Apps
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsFinance

Daman Investments Moves into Sports Apps

Sportlobster, a leading sports app that brings fans together, has secured £2m from leading UAE-based investment company, Daman Investments.

“Sportlobster is in strong growth mode at the moment and this is certainly a reflection of our investment into – and focus on – the product, particularly this year. Our latest funding allows us to further accelerate our competitive lead in a number of ways.” said the company’s CEO and co-founder, Andy Meikle. “Daman sees Sportlobster as an innovative concept and the product is unmatched. This raise and Daman’s continued support will allow us to execute our global strategy.”

Sportlobster’s new product offering and strategy for growth attracted Daman to not only inject capital upfront but use its corporate finance arm to raise future funding.

“We value innovative businesses that provide technology solutions for consumer needs. Sportlobster has a phenomenal team and provides an excellent social platform for a large market of sports fans across the globe.” said Shehab Gargash, Founder and Chairman of Daman Investments.

The investment by Daman Investments will be used to accelerate and support Sportlobster’s latest products and strategic developments from its London-based HQ.

The company which is backed by sporting celebrities including Michael Owen has already recorded a user base of 2.2 million sport fans across the globe. The company is witnessing a strong growth in the number of active users which is now increasing month on month by 60%.

Andy Meikle continues: “As a multi-functional sports app, serving multiple sports, engagement levels are high across the platform, be it through making predictions before events begin, chatting during games with other fans or making use of the blogging functionality. From a commercial perspective, there are multiple ways in which we will generate revenue across the entire platform which will complement the user’s experience and that starts here in the UK working with some of the UK’s biggest gaming companies.”

Sportlobster has appointed Daman Investments as the advisor for future rounds of capital raising. “We are really excited to be part this journey and believe that Sportlobster can become the leading social media platform to cater to over 1.2 billion sport fans across the globe” said Sumit Mehta, Head of Deal Structuring & Advisory at Daman Investments.

 

 

Swrve Completes $30mn Financing Round and Acquisition
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsFinance

Swrve Completes $30mn Financing Round and Acquisition

Swrve, a leader in the mobile marketing engagement space, today announced that it has closed a $30mn funding and acquisition round. Swrve has acquired adaptiv.io, a data automation platform for mobile. These two announcements come on the heels of a period of significant growth for the company, including reaching one billion installs of the product.

Swrve, whose platform enables brands to deliver contextually rich and relevant in-app mobile interactions, will use this funding to continue the company’s global expansion and market-leading product innovation. Leading the round is Evolution Media Partners (EMP), a partnership of CAA-backed Evolution Media Capital, TPG Growth and Participant Media, and the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF).
Others participating in the oversubscribed round included existing investors Acero Capital, and Atlantic Bridge.

“Swrve solves real problems for real mobile marketers,” said Marco DeMiroz, Managing Director of Evolution Media Partners, who also joins Swrve’s Board of Directors. “We’re thrilled to be investing in Swrve, which is helping to make marketing more powerful, more relevant, more targeted and more effective than ever before, revolutionizing how some of the biggest brands in the world interact with their customers.”

With an existing roster of customers spanning some of best known brand names in the world, Swrve will use this capital primarily to accelerate product development and sales growth, to solidify their market position as a recognized global leader in the mobile marketing engagement space. Recent company milestones include: one billion installs of the Swrve SDK; a successful Q2 followed by a peak Q3 represented by 4x growth from Q3 2014; unprecedented expansion across verticals such as financial services, media and publishing, and entertainment and rapid hiring across its growing employee base in San Francisco, New York, Dublin, London, and continental Europe.

Swrve is also unveiling its new Swrve Amplify product, fueled by the acquisition of marketing and data automation provider adaptiv.io. Swrve Amplify will enable mobile marketers to build omni-channel marketing campaigns informed by real-time data streams. The result is more relevant, impactful, mobile campaigns that move the needle.

“We’re excited about the simplicity of Swrve Amplify in allowing us to make real-time decisions based on all of our data sets, no matter what silo they live in,” said Adam Warburton, Head of Mobile at Travelex. “We see tremendous value in transforming all of our user data to make an instant connection with our most loyal customers. The ease of reaching these users at the time when they are ready to engage with a brand through Swrve Amplify will be incredibly beneficial to any mobile marketing program.”

According to the September 2015 Forrester report (subscription required for access), Upgrade Your Marketing Plans With Push Notifications And In-App Messaging, “App usage is now mainstream … in the US, 62% of consumers opt to receive push notifications from a select few apps they download on their smartphone.” As a result, Swrve believes that digital marketers need to change the rules of mobile and digital engagement, adopting a personalized approach to marketing that goes beyond generic push notifications and blanket in-app messages that can damage a brand’s reputation. 

KKR Invests in Avendus Capital
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsFinance

KKR Invests in Avendus Capital

Leading global investment firm KKR and Avendus Capital (“Avendus” or “the Company”), a pre-eminent Indian financial services firm providing customized solutions in the areas of financial advisory and wealth management, today announced the signing of a definitive agreement under which KKR will invest in Avendus to fund the company’s foray into the credit solutions business and to grow its wealth and alternative asset management solutions offerings to its customers.

KKR is making its investment from its Asian Fund II. As a part of this transaction, KKR is purchasing shares from Eastgate Capital and Americorp Ventures, an early investor in Avendus. Further details of the transaction were not disclosed. The transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals.
Avendus has a strong focus on mid-market companies and the entrepreneurs leading these companies. As these companies grow, they need unique business and financing solutions, and Avendus aims to be the provider of choice for these products and solutions.

Avendus’ existing management team, led by co-founders Ranu Vohra, Gaurav Deepak and Kaushal Aggarwal, will continue to manage the platform’s day-to-day operations and its growth into the new businesses. The three founders bring more than 50 years of combined financial services experience to the firm.

Sanjay Nayar, Member of KKR and CEO of KKR India, said, “India is witnessing unprecedented demand for innovative and integrated financial services products as a result of rising entrepreneurship across sectors. Avendus is a world-class firm built and run by three visionary founders which delivers solutions to meet this demand by offering diverse alternative investment products and wealth advisory services.”

“As Ranu, Gaurav, Kaushal and the Avendus team continue to build on this banking franchise by seeking opportunities to elevate the company to the next level, KKR’s investment will aid this effort by accelerating the build-out of the Company’s highly sought-after investment banking platform which can be benchmarked against the world’s best,” added Mr. Nayar.

Ranu Vohra, Managing Director & CEO at Avendus, said, “Having created a platform which is trusted by entrepreneurs across industries, the mantra now for each of Avendus’ businesses is to ‘scale up’. We have excellent potential to expand our businesses and to become a comprehensive financial services provider to India’s first-generation businesses. KKR’s capital commitment and support will enable us to provide a broader set of synergistic services and products to these clients, which can catalyze their growth. We are very excited about what this partnership means for our clients and colleagues.”

Renewable Energy: What Provides the Best Investment?
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsFinance

Renewable Energy: What Provides the Best Investment?

A 50kW PV Rooftop project is considered the most attractive technology from an investment perspective and a 5MW Solar PV Park or 10MW Wind Farm have historically been some of the most attractive technologies for investors, but were ranked eighth and ninth respectively. However due to the loss of support under the Renewable Obligation, this has significantly reduced the projected IRR’s for both technologies, thereby extinguishing the potential development value of the sites once consented, and making them relatively unattractive.

Biomass is also an attractive investment, despite recent cuts to the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), it was ranked second. Biomass is therefore an excellent opportunity for properties off the gas grid.
A 500kW Wind Turbine is ranked highly at third as it still delivers the highest return on investment for the right site. However Wind has a lower planning approval rate and also low development costs’ score, reflecting the high development costs and risks associated with securing planning for sites.

A 1MW Waste Anaerobic Digestion (AD) and a 500 kW Farm AD were ranked fourth and sixth respectively as operation and maintenance are higher than other renewable energy technologies, and there is volatility of financial support mechanisms, particularly the reductions in the bio-methane injection tariff (RHI).
Ground-Source Heat Pumps (GSHP) are ranked fifth, despite a fair IRR and low risk at planning. This is because, relative to the size of the technology, GSHPs require more investment and a longer timeframe to develop, with less significant income potential for an investor.

A 500 kW Hydro was ranked seventh as projects can require extensive environmental and ecological studies to obtain consent, the planning process can be complex and lengthy, and costs and resource income can vary significantly between sites.

Andrew Watkin, head of energy and marine, Carter Jonas said: “The UK has a fantastic pool of natural resources and we continue to call for the Government to get behind the renewable sector. When considering renewable energy investment opportunities, it is prudent to consider the risks against the potential benefits. To help our clients understand their options when it comes to onshore renewable energy, we grouped the various factors together to show the relative risk versus benefit. 500kW Wind has the highest benefit but also has very high risk, while a 50kW Solar Scheme also has good benefit with significantly less risk. Due to recent changes to incentives, large solar and wind farms now offer investors a much lower benefit. Our research has identified the most attractive renewable technology opportunities available, at the present time, according to key investment factors. However each opportunity will be driven by site specific circumstances and we would always recommend careful assessment and due diligence of individual projects prior to any investment.”

Andrew Watkin added: “As an investment, renewable projects are generally not mature enough to withstand a complete removal of any support mechanism. For renewable energy to be successful without support, several critical changes would need to occur within the industry: reduced costs of installation, reduced cost of grid connection, and increased value for sale of electricity. Overall, the industry needs support from the Government, not opposition with continual regulatory, planning and financial barriers driving investment away from the sector. Needless to say, the best projects will remain the sites with the best resource: solar irradiation, wind speed, and so forth, and the lowest development cost.”

Cinven Acquire Synlab Group
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsFinance

Cinven Acquire Synlab Group

Private equity firm Cinven announced today that they were acquiring a majority share in the German laboratories group Synlab. Cinven has yet to disclose how large the deal will be, or provide any detail on the monetary aspect of the transaction.

Synlab which provides human and veterinary laboratory services, as well as environmental analysis, operates in 23 European countries, with laboratories in around 300 locations and employing over 7,000 people. In 2014 the group registered sales of approximately €756 million.

 The group will be a useful addition to Cinven’s empire. Last year they acquired a majority share in Labco, the France based diagnostic service providers. Cinven paid an enterprise value of €1.2 billion for the company.

 Alex Leslie, Senior partner in Cinven, highlighted the complimentary nature of the businesses when the deal was announced. ‘We believe that the combination of Labco and synlab, two highly complementary businesses, will provide clear benefits for patients and payors across Europe and will create a European champion in the industry’.

 The CEOs of both Labco and the newly acquired Synlab were equally optimistic about the implications of the deal. Bartl Wimmer the CEO of Synlab indicated that the takeover would have positive effects on the industry. ‘Cinven has an excellent reputation as an investor in the European healthcare sector, and already has substantial experience in the diagnostics sector. We are looking forward to working with them on growing our business and being able to offer more healthcare professionals and patients access to diagnostic services internationally to improve the detection and prevention of diseases’.

 Philippe Charrier, CEO of Labco, added: ‘At Labco, we are excited about having the chance to work together with the synlab team. Our two businesses are highly complementary with little direct geographic overlap and we share Cinven’s vision of creating a European champion in the diagnostics industry’.

 

 

Homeplus Negotiations Underway
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsFinance

Homeplus Negotiations Underway

Tesco PLC in negotiations to sell Korean subsiduary arm Homeplus.

The South Korean supermarket chain Homeplus is being sold by its owners, Tesco PLC. Currently, the Korea Daily Economic has stated that the Orion Confectionery, which specialises in novelty and seasonal products, are keen to be involved in the deal, which would help them enter the superstore market and would enable them to promote their own products through Homeplus. The newspaper speculates that Orion Confectionary would attempt to join American investment firm TPG Capital and form a conglomerate.

The paper also states that MBK Partners, an Asian private equity and investment firm ‘is aggressively pursuing the deal’, owing to a slump in their investment dealings over recent years.

Other names mentioned in connection with the deal include Goldman Sachs Principal Investment Area, Affinity Equity Partners, CVC Capital Partners, the Carlyle Group, and TPG Capital. The Korea Daily Economic also indicated that although Hyundai Department Store and the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation had initially been interested in the deal, they had both ‘refused to participate in the preliminary bidding for reasons that the price was too high.’

Homeplus is the South Korean subsidiary of the British owned supermarket firm Tesco PLC, with the deal to sell Homeplus being underwritten by HSBC. Tesco created Homeplus in 1999 in partnership with Samsung but bought Samsung out in stages, culminating in 2014. Tesco is now the complete owner of Homeplus.

Lloyds Bank: Shares Drop in Price as Government Attempts to Recoup Taxpayer Money
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsFinance

Lloyds Bank: Shares Drop in Price as Government Attempts to Recoup Taxpayer Money

Lloyds Bank

Shares in Lloyds Banking Group, which were previously owned by the UK Government, are being sold off under pre-election plans to recoup the taxpayer money used to bail out the ailing financial institution during the 2007 to 2009 financial crisis. The price of the shares has dropped to 86.66 pence at the time of writing, which is a reduction of 0.47%, according to the FTSE 500.

UK Financial Investments Limited, which is responsible for the Government’s shares in the bank, announced in a statement issued on June 1st that they were due to allow Morgan Stanley, the agent used to sell the shares, to continue selling them, stating that “the Trading Plan will now terminate no later than 31 December 2015”. The statement also indicated that provision was being made for the for the recouping of money paid for the shares, saying “as with all disposals, delivering value for money for the taxpayer is a key consideration and shares will not be sold below the average price per share paid for them.”

This coincided with a statement from George Osbourne who has been vocal in his desire to privatise the taxpayer-funded banks since coming into power with the collation Government, and who claimed on the 1st June: “This means we have now recovered over £10.5bn in total, more than half of the taxpayers’ money put into Lloyds, and we now own under 19% of the bank”.

The UK Government purchased 43% of the shares in Lloyds Banking Group during the financial crisis. The Government said of UK Financial Investments Limited: “UKFI was set up on 3 November 2008 to manage the UK Government’s investments in banks subscribing to its recapitalisation funds. Its overarching objective is to protect and create value for the taxpayer as shareholder, with due regard to financial stability and promotion of competition.”

deVere Group Launches Tax Consultancy
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsFinance

deVere Group Launches Tax Consultancy

deVere Group’s Global Head of Tax, Neil Walker, comments: “deVere Tax Consultancy has been established to meet ongoing and growing demand from existing and potential deVere clients.

“Until now, few options were available in the marketplace to meet the specialist, U.S., UK, and/or globally-focused requirements our clients needed.

“With more and more individuals become internationally mobile, and the evolving UK and global tax, legislative and regulatory environments, a fresh approach was required.

“deVere Tax Consultancy is designed with today’s increasingly international individuals, and the new taxation landscapes, in mind.”

He continues: “deVere has sought out the very best technical tax capabilities available to address these developments and combines this with its global infrastructure to exceed clients’ tax expectations.

“Using our worldwide network, we devise, implement and manage innovative tax strategies that enable our clients to successfully navigate the complex tax systems and ensure they are fully compliant whilst taking full advantage of the allowances available to them to reduce their tax burdens.”

Neil Walker who heads deVere Tax Consultancy, which names the preparation of UK and U.S. tax returns amongst its suite of specialist areas, spent almost a decade within Ernst & Young’s expat division.

Of the new role, he says: “It’s incredibly exciting to join a robust global organisation that is dedicated to using its significant resources to enter into an expanding market. We’re committed to helping shape the international tax planning sector and further driving up industry standards.”