Pannone Corporate has advised on the share sale of Detectronic– a specialist in sewer and wastewater network monitoring and management.

The Lancashire-based company was acquired for an undisclosed sum by environmental services business Adler and Allan Limited. This is A&A’s fourth acquisition in the utilities sector, and sixth overall in the last 18 months. The deal will further enhance its capabilities in wastewater telemetry and monitoring.

Pannone’s corporate team advised the shareholders of Detectronic, a long-standing client of the North West law firm. The team included corporate partner, Tom Hall, and Andrew Walsh, senior associate. They were supported by Renee Neophytou and Lizzie O’Leary.

Hall said: “Since we first started working with the team at Detectronic more than a decade ago, the company has built up an unrivalled reputation for its innovative and creative approach to environmental services, with extensive experience in sewer and wastewater management.

“The business has achieved enormous success in recent years and the sale to a company of the ambition of Adler and Allan marks an important chapter in Detectronic’s growth journey. As a long-standing and trusted client, we look forward to seeing how the company flourishes under the expert stewardship of Adler and Allan.”

Detectronic is an environmental and engineering company with a proven track record of helping customers prevent flooding and reduce pollution. It designs and manufactures a range of flow and level monitors for wastewater monitoring including LIDoTT, a market-leading range of sewer level monitoring devices.

Steve Woods, Executive Chairman at Detectronic, said: “We are delighted to be joining the Adler and Allan Group. The services it offers, combined with its established position in the utilities market, allows us to extend our expert monitoring and management solutions to more companies.”

Adler and Allan provides environmental services across utilities, energy, and industrial infrastructure, to reduce risk to the environment, people, and organisations.

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Venture Capital is set to underpin the North West deals market in 2023, following a record year of fundraising, as uncertainty and high interest rates in the debt market continue to dampen the volume of leveraged buyouts.

After Venture Capital Trust (VCT) fundraising reached a record high of £1.13 billion in the 2021/22 tax year, VCTs are expected to continue to deploy capital in 2023, which includes investment in small and innovative North West companies. This is aided by the Government’s decision to extend the tax relief scheme beyond its original 2025 sunset clause, which will help maintain the positive momentum achieved over the past few years.

In the final quarter of 2022, a number of standout deals demonstrated the appetite of VCTs to invest in the regional North West market, contrary to what is perceived to be a London-centric investment approach. This included Manchester-based Summize – a contract lifecycle management disruptor – which secured £5 million Series A VCT funding from YFM Equity Partners and Maven Capital. The investment duo also led a £6.5 million Series A round into biomedical data specialist, Biorelate.

According to law firm, Pannone Corporate, which acted on both deals, VCT fundraising could reach new record levels in the tax year 2022/23, particularly given the sector’s ability to offset subscriptions against income tax – an ability to pay tax free dividends, at a time when Government fiscal policy tightens, especially in relation to income tax thresholds.

Mark Winthorpe, corporate partner at Pannone Corporate, said: “As the deals in 2022 demonstrate, venture capital investment is becoming an ever increasing element of the investment landscape, following a record year of fundraising.

“In many cases, VCTs are looking at a longer time horizon of five to seven years and investment rounds are increasingly done on a syndicated basis to increase the level of investment in the round and diversify a VCT’s portfolio. As such, this patient approach is making funds less susceptible to shorter-term economic and political impacts, with deal volumes also potentially benefiting from any softening of valuations.”

In 2022, Pannone acted on 12 VCT-backed deals, a 50% increase on the previous year. Overall, deal volume increased by 24%, with cross-border transactions continuing to feature strongly.

Other publishable high-profile deals in Q4 2022 included, acting for the management team of training and apprenticeships provider Babington on its tertiary buyout, backed by Unigestion; advising digitisation and data storage business, Storetec, on its MBO, backed by Bridges Fund Management; acting for Maven Capital on its investment through the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund into British tech-for-good company GWD; advising the shareholders of Inprova Procurement on its MBO backed by NVM Private Equity; as well as acting on the cross-border acquisition of Easyairconditioning.com, advising Beijer Ref AB – a Swedish listed business, which specialises in the wholesale of cooling technology and HVAC.

Tim Hamilton, corporate partner at Pannone Corporate, said: “While uncertainty in the UK economy is putting off some overseas buyers, who have choices about where to invest their funds, there are still those who see a weak pound as an opportunity to acquire businesses in a well regulated market and a mature economy at good value. As such, we expect cross-border deals to remain resilient in the next 12 months.

“In terms of sectors to watch in 2023, big data and data security remain attractive areas for investment, as evidenced by the Biorelate and Storetec deals in Q4. Data security is an area that firms will need to maintain investment in over the course of the next 12 months, given the wider geopolitical landscape, whether that’s in Ukraine, or the growing tension between China and the United States over Taiwan.”

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PLG International Lawyers firms, Lamy Lexel and Pannone Corporate, have advised on the cross-border acquisition of UK-based eProcurement software company, Market Dojo.

The two firms were legal advisers to global cloud platform Esker, which has acquired a majority stake in Market Dojo. Esker, which is listed on the Euronext Growth market in Paris, has purchased 50.1% of the shares and voting rights in Market Dojo, with an option to acquire the remainder of the shares after a period of four years.

The Pannone team, led by Tom Hall (corporate Partner), Andrew Walsh and Behzad Borang, worked alongside Lamy Lexel, its PLG partner in Lyon, who provided French law support to Esker on the transaction. Frédéric Dupont (corporate Partner), Typhanie Le Gall and Pauline Philippon led the corporate team at Lamy Lexel.

Esker, which is headquartered in Lyon, France, is a global cloud platform and leader in AI-driven process automation solutions for finance and customer service functions.

Tom Hall said: “Esker is a world leader in cloud and AI-driven technology, with a significant footprint across North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia Pacific.

“This strategic acquisition will undoubtedly strengthen Esker’s presence in the UK, while offering significant international development opportunities. It will also build on the company’s capabilities in traditional markets by enabling Esker to bring eSourcing into its platform proposition. It is, as ever, a pleasure to work alongside Lamy Lexel on another successful transaction.

Frédéric Dupont said: ”Lamy Lexel is delighted to be able to support Esker and its teams, for which we handle the day-to-day market regulation aspects, in a strategic international acquisition. It is a renewed pleasure to collaborate with the Pannone team on sensitive operations in a friendly environment.”

Market Dojo’s eSourcing cloud solution was created to address the need for structured and digitised processes in procurement. Designed by procurement professionals, Market Dojo’s unique on-demand solution enables users to centralise information, negotiate the best value for goods and services, and select the right suppliers.

Jean-Michel Bérard, CEO at Esker, said: “We are pleased to welcome Market Dojo to the Esker family. This acquisition provides new growth opportunities in a developing market and strengthens Esker’s positioning in the global Procure-to-Pay (P2P) arena. Additionally, Market Dojo is an excellent illustration of Esker’s strategy to invest in organic growth combined with targeted acquisitions that offer a high potential for growth.”

Mazars provided financial due diligence and tax support to Esker. Advisors to the shareholders of Market Dojo were: Ryecroft Glenton (corporate finance and tax) and Simon Muirhead Burton (legal).

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