Pannone Corporate has advised on the sale of Eco-Readymix Ltd, a leading producer of mortar and concrete in the North West.

The company, which was established in 2004 and has sites in Wrexham and Ellesmere Port, was acquired for an undisclosed sum by Aggregate Industries, a member of the Holcim Group. The acquisition will reinforce Aggregate Industries’ position in the North West market and also help establish its place in the UK mortar market.

Pannone’s corporate team advised the shareholders of Eco-Readymix. The team included corporate partner, Tom Hall, Bez Borang and Sam Roberts. They were supported by James Harris, partner in the real estate team.

Hall said: “This is a fantastic deal. A regional business that is anchored in a traditional sector, but is forward-looking in its approach, particularly around sustainability and the environment.

“We’re delighted to see the business attracting the attention of a heavyweight, such as Aggregate Industries, and we will watch with great interest as the combined businesses make an even greater mark on the North West market.”

Eco-Readymix produces Ready to Use mortar and Dry Silo Mortar and serves national house builders, groundworkers and civil engineering firms alongside the domestic market.

It also produces ready mix concrete, liquid and traditional screed, concrete masonry blocks and aggregates. The company has strong sustainable credentials. Its Wrexham site is almost entirely powered via a biomass system alongside both wind and solar power. It employs 52 people across its sites.

Dragan Maksimovic, Chief Executive Officer of Aggregate Industries UK, said: “We are delighted to be able to announce the acquisition of Eco Readymix and welcome them to Aggregate Industries.

“As a business, it has clear sustainable values very much in line with our own and will strategically add to our strong footprint in the North West.

“This also marks our entry into the UK mortar market with a knowledgeable and ambitious management that has multiple synergies with our own. The acquisition supports our long-term strategy to continue to grow our business in order to become the UK’s leading supplier of sustainable construction materials and solutions.”

Picture credit: Iryna Melnyk

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North West law firm, Pannone Corporate, has advised on transactions with an aggregate deal value of over £550 million in the first half of 2022.

The corporate team, led by partners Mark Winthorpe, Tom Hall and Tim Hamilton, has continued where it left off in Q4 of 2021, by completing 19 transactions, with an average deal value of £29 million. These were completed between January and June 2022 across M&A, IPO and private equity.

High-profile deals include: the cross-border sale of leading producer and supplier of premium organic superfood products, Go Superfoods Limited, to Swedish food-tech and FMCG listed company, Humble Group; the UK aspects of the IPO of TVS Supply Chain Solutions; NVM-backed nZero Group’s acquisition of Orbital Gas Systems; and the acquisition of UK-based eProcurement software company Market Dojo by global cloud platform Esker.

Mark Winthorpe said: “Despite obvious macroeconomic headwinds, the appetite for M&A – both nationally and internationally – has been very resilient during the first half of 2022.

“We have seen a number of instructions acting for private equity-backed groups looking for bolt on acquisitions to maintain their growth curve and, in certain instances, transform underperforming assets. The appetite for new investments also remains strong as private equity bidders become even more competitive in deal processes, as the valuations attributed to corporate bidders has, in our view, softened to a degree.”

He added: “Other stand out themes include truncated deal processes, with average deal periods being closer to two months (and sometimes much shorter than that) than over three months pre-pandemic. This is in part driven by the irreversible move towards technology in the deal process and the desire of sellers to de-risk with supply chain pressures and inflation having an impact on trading outlooks.”

Recent deals which Pannone has also acted on include: the cross-border sale of a controlling stake in Walker Sime by US-based Otak, part of Hanmi Global Group; Procuritas-backed Polarn O. Pyret’s acquisition of Odin Retail; and Maven Capital’s £4.25 million VCT round into baby care brand, Pura.

Tom Hall commented: “Our international M&A practice has had an incredibly strong first two quarters, with high quality instructions for UK assets from French, Spanish, US, Dutch and Swedish clients, amongst others.

“Technology is definitely ‘one to watch’ as US and European buyers show an unabated appetite for high quality targets, especially when coupled with the depreciation in the value of sterling against the Euro and the Dollar. When you combine that level of interest with strong performances across other key markets, such as financial services, online retail and food production businesses, we are confident for the remainder of 2022, with deals we are aiming to complete by the end of the Summer being circa £250 million in value.”

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Pannone Corporate has advised on the cross-border strategic investment in risk-led intelligent security solutions provider, Amberstone Security.

The Manchester firm acted as legal adviser to Argenbright Group, a leading provider of human capital services headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. Through the transaction, the US company will re-establish its UK presence and plans to expand into Europe with Amberstone as its platform company.

The Pannone team was led by Tim Hamilton and included Ashi Amershi, Andy Walsh, Belinda Cheung and Humera Patel.

Tim Hamilton said: “We’re delighted to have acted for Argenbright on this deal and look forward to working with them on the exciting journey that will see them develop as a significant player in the UK and European security sector.

“Argenbright has extensive experience and a strong reputation in the international security market, stretching over four decades. This strategic transaction will extend its global reach and capitalise on the rapid growth Amberstone has experienced in a short space of time.”

Amberstone services key customers in the retail, warehousing, and logistics sectors.

Frank A. Argenbright Jr., Executive Chairman of Argenbright, said: “We are excited to be back in the security business in the UK and I personally look forward to sharing my experiences of providing legendary service and technology-driven solutions to valued clients with the leadership team to help Amberstone take the business to the next level.”

Argenbright intends to invest in growing Amberstone, by adding significant capabilities in account management and sales, as well as selective strategic acquisitions.

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Pannone Corporate has advised on the cross-border sale of a controlling stake in North West company, Walker Sime.

The Manchester firm acted as legal adviser to the shareholders of Walker Sime, of which shares were acquired by Oregon-based Otak, part of the HanmiGlobal Group. The US company has taken a majority stake in Walker Sime, as part of the deal.

The Pannone team was led by Tim Hamilton (corporate Partner), Miranda Foy and Behzad Borang.

Walker Sime is a multi-disciplinary construction consultancy, which specialises in quantity surveying and project management. It has worked on a number of high-profile projects, including Network Space’s 200,000 sq ft industrial scheme in Altrincham and the £54 million Glass Futures in St Helens.

Tim Hamilton said: “We have worked with Walker Sime for a number of years and have followed the company’s impressive expansion, establishing itself as a leading player in the North West construction market.

“The sale to Otak is a perfect culmination of years of hard work and dedication by the team and a significant milestone in its ongoing growth journey. We were delighted to have acted for the company on this transaction and look forward to watching the next phase of its development, in particular in advanced manufacturing and the low carbon economy.”

The Walker Sime deal comes three years after Otak, a design and project management firm, acquired a majority stake in London-based consultancy K2. As part of the deal, Walker Sime and K2 will merge operations under the Walker Sime name, creating a team of around 130 with a national focus.

The financial advisors to the shareholders of Walker Sime were James Jennings and Chris Bentley of the Strategy Exchange.

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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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Pannone Corporate and Carbon Corporate Finance have advised on the cross-border sale of leading producer and supplier of premium organic superfood products, Go Superfoods Limited.

The Manchester firms acted as legal and financial advisers respectively to the shareholders of Go Superfoods, which was acquired by Swedish food-tech and FMCG listed company, Humble Group. The Pannone team was led by Tom Hall (corporate Partner), Arshnoor Amershi and Humera Patel. The Carbon team was led by partners Tom Johnson and David Kandola.

Go Superfoods, which was founded by CEO Harry Singh in 2008, offers a wide range of superfoods to retail customers and distributors under its own brands Green Origins, Rainforest Foods, and Piura.

Tom Johnson said: “We’re delighted to have advised the shareholders of Go Superfoods on this transaction. Harry and his team have built a leading superfoods business, which will flourish as part of the Humble Group.

“Achieving results such as this for Harry demonstrates Carbon’s commitment to helping business owners realise significant value through strategic sales.”

Tom Hall said: “Go Superfoods is an exciting business that’s really made its mark in the rapidly-growing organic superfoods sector – building strong brand loyalty amongst both consumers and distributors.

“With the vast potential that exists in the marketplace, combined with an ambitious and profitable business in Go Superfoods, this cross-border deal made perfect sense for Humble Group. It allows the business to enter a new niche market segment, while using its own scale and purchasing power to enhance the offering and reach of the multi-channel supplier. We’re delighted for Harry and the team and wish them every success as they embark on the next phase of their growth journey.”

Go Superfoods has established itself as a competitive superfoods supplier with a broad customer base, including specialist and nutrition retailers, distributors, food manufacturers and consumers.

Singh commented: “At Go Superfoods we’ve always strived to be a bridge connecting growers of superfoods in the developing world with European consumers looking to improve their health and wellbeing. Humble is the perfect partner for us to continue our journey with and we look forward to working with Simon Petrén and his team at Humble to accomplish our shared vision.” 

Advisors to Humble were Knight Transaction Services (UK Financial DD), Shoosmiths (UK legal) and Rämsell Advokatbyrå AB (Swedish legal).

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Pannone Corporate has advised nZero Group on the multi-million pound acquisition of Orbital Gas Systems to create an industry leader in the UK’s low carbon industry.

The Manchester law firm acted as legal adviser to nZero Group, which acquired Orbital Gas Systems from its NYSE-listed parent company, Orbital Energy Group (OEG) for an undisclosed sum. The deal was backed by NVM Private Equity, nZero Group’s institutional backer.

Cheshire-based nZero Group aims to become the UK’s leading measurement and control partner across the natural gas, petrochemical, biomethane and decarbonisation sectors. It said the acquisition would ensure the necessary skills and capacity are ready and aligned to help the country’s ambition to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Tim Hamilton, corporate partner at Pannone Corporate, led the deal alongside Andy Walsh, Rosie Korcz and Amy Chandler. He said: “nZero Group is an innovative and exciting business, which has perfectly positioned itself in a fast-growth sector driven by the UK’s net zero ambitions. The acquisition of Orbital Gas Systems perfectly complements nZero Group’s strategic aims and bolsters its position, not only in the domestic market, but also internationally.

“We’re delighted to have supported the team in achieving this exciting milestone and look forward to working alongside the company during the next stage of its growth journey.”

The deal will see the enlarged group employ over 150 people with combined turnover in the region of £16million. Over the next three to five years, the company expects to create more than 50 highly-skilled jobs, whilst investing in creating its own engineers for the future through apprenticeship and graduate programmes to address the skills shortage in the UK.

Both companies, which will retain their existing names as part of the deal, will be led by nZero Group managing director, Matt Allen.

Allen commented: “This deal represents a significant step forward in our strategy to become a key contributor in the UK net zero energy transition by bringing under common ownership two of the UK’s leading measurement and control partners across the natural gas, low carbon hydrogen, petrochemical, and waste to energy sectors.

“The UK and many other countries are making significant commitments to tackle the climate crisis. This is creating a growing demand for companies, like Orbital and Thyson Technology – a subsidiary of nZero Group – to provide a blend of existing technologies and innovative solutions to decarbonise, while supporting customers’ commercial and technological challenges to meet the targets they have set themselves or have been set by government.”

Located in Stone, Staffordshire, Orbital Gas Systems specialises in the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of industrial gas sampling, measurement, and delivery systems. It has nearly 40 years’ expertise in the manufacture of a broad range of innovative technologies for the energy, power, and processing markets.

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Pannone Corporate has advised on the USD $8 million investment into games studio and developer of virtual worlds, Dubit. The multi-million dollar deal will fund the world’s first live esports league in the metaverse, starting in Roblox.

The Manchester law firm acted as legal adviser to Metaventures founder and French investor Jean-Charles Capelli, who led the funding round. The Pannone team was led by Tom Hall (Corporate Partner), Andrew Walsh and Behzad Borang.

The capital funding values Dubit at USD $55 million and will enable the Yorkshire-based company to expand its existing metaverse activity, with the launch of the inaugural Metaverse Gaming League (MGL) – branded gaming events and esports tournaments. Following its launch on Roblox, the company intends to expand into other leading metaverse gaming platforms, such as Minecraft and Core.

Tom Hall commented: “We’re delighted to have worked alongside Metaventures and Jean-Charles in what is a hugely exciting deal in a rapidly growing technology space.

“The metaverse is grabbing both headlines and people’s imaginations, as major players commit to the virtual world. With a strong reputation amongst global brands for its development capabilities, the multi-million investment will undoubtedly provide Dubit with further momentum as it continues to expand its presence in the virtual world.”

Established in 1999, Dubit works with companies such as Disney, Facebook and Lego, and is already taking brands into Roblox. As part of its ambitious growth strategy, Metaventures and Dubit also plan to create consumer lifestyle experiences such as concerts and fashion shows for the metaverse.

Jean-Charles Capelli said: “Dubit is in the perfect position to take advantage of the new opportunities in the metaverse. No other company has 20 years’ experience in developing and launching virtual worlds, combined with a great network of brands and organisations that it works with around the world. As an entrepreneur and musician, I’m proud to invest in Dubit, and I’m excited to help scale up the incredible experiences it creates for users of Roblox and other metaverses.”

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