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Project Mercury

Acquisitions in the Specialist and General Engineering Sector: A Strategic Imperative for Growth

Acquisitions in the Specialist and General Engineering Sector – Contact Us Now

In an era where globalisation is not just a buzzword but a strategic imperative, acquisitions become the cornerstone of rapid expansion and market penetration. As industry experts, we witness a significant uptick in activity within the specialist and general engineering sector, especially concerning acquisitions. Herein lies an unparalleled opportunity for businesses in the UK market.

An esteemed overseas company with a remarkable billion-dollar turnover has set its sights on securing a robust presence in the UK market, specifically within the specialist and general engineering sectors. This ambitious expansion is driven by a strategic plan to integrate four bolt-on additions to its substantial portfolio before the end of March 20243. Such a determined approach demonstrates the company’s commitment to establishing a significant foothold in the UK market swiftly and decisively.

This organisation stands out not only due to its impressive financial standing, being both asset and cash-rich, but also owing to its proven methodology that has repeatedly demonstrated efficiency in executing acquisitions. Its capacity to fast-track deals and expedite due diligence processes minimises disruptions, ensuring a seamless transition and integration of new acquisitions.

The target for these acquisitions is particularly niche, focusing on smaller-sized businesses with a turnover in the region of £5 million. Such businesses are prime candidates for grouping under the parent company’s umbrella, thereby unlocking synergies and scaling operations to meet an array of projects and contracts that the parent company is poised to fulfil.

Adaptability and flexibility in approach signify the company’s ethos in handling acquisitions. Whether it’s supporting straightforward cash sales or navigating the complexities of Management Buy-Outs (MBOs) and Management Buy-Ins (MBIs), the company’s strategy is tailored to accommodate various transaction types. This flexible approach underscores a commitment to fostering relationships and transactions that are conducive to mutual growth and success.

The current landscape presents a compelling case for businesses within the specialist and general engineering sector to align with a powerful industry player. The company’s readiness to support and integrate smaller businesses could serve as a catalyst for these entities to elevate their operations, engage in larger projects, and attain a level of growth that might otherwise remain out of reach.

For businesses that see the value in such a partnership and the myriad of opportunities it could unveil, it is an opportune moment to initiate a dialogue. We invite interested parties to reach out directly to our Senior Partner, Mark Roberts, via By engaging with our expertise, businesses can gain insights into the intricacies of this acquisition process and explore how their operations could align with the strategic objectives of our client.

In conclusion, as the deadline for this ambitious acquisition drive draws near, we extend a professional invitation to suitable candidates within the specialist and general engineering sector. This is more than a mere transaction; it’s a partnership designed for growth, innovation, and collective success. If your business possesses the agility and the ambition to be part of a larger consortium that is setting the pace in the engineering domain, now is the time to act.

To summarise, acqusitions in the specialist and general engineering sector represent growth opportunities and a critical evolution in a company’s lifecycle. Our client’s initiative to enhance their portfolio with strategic UK-based acquisitions demonstrates their commitment to being a market leader. This is an invitation to businesses that are positioned to leverage this unique prospect—businesses ready to transition into a broader, more dynamic future with a global partner at their side.

With a strategic and flexible approach, this acquisition initiative is set to redefine the capabilities and scale of the specialist and general engineering sector in the UK. Businesses with the vision to be part of this transformative journey are encouraged to take the first step towards a collective prosperous future. Contact Mark Roberts to discuss the potential that awaits.

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HelloFresh inks $277M deal for US meal delivery startup

Germany’s HelloFresh has agreed to buy Illinois-based meal delivery business Factor75 for up to $277 million, as European food companies turn their attention to the US to fuel growth.

The deal comes just a few weeks after Nestlé completed its $1.5 billion acquisition of New York-based meal delivery startup Freshly. In June, Just Eat fought off a rival bid from Uber to buy Grubhub in an all-stock transaction worth about $7.3 billion.

Factor75 will join HelloFresh’s existing US portfolio including EveryPlate and Green Chef, which it bought in 2018. The deal will give HelloFresh its first office in Chicago, as well as four production and fulfillment facilities.

Frankfurt-listed HelloFresh is currently the largest meal-kit provider in the US in terms of market share, reportedly surpassing Blue Apron in 2018. It logged 2.5 million active customers in the US during Q3 2020, a near 70% increase year-over-year. The pandemic has created a surge in demand for meal kits as shoppers seek alternatives to grocery stores. The meal kit market is expected to reach $14.8 billion by 2025, representing a 10.6% compound annual growth rate, according to PitchBook’s Q3 2020 foodtech report.

Founded in 2013, Factor75 specializes in healthy ready-to-eat meals. It secured $12.5 million in May in a round led by Marcy Venture Partners. Factor75 is expected to generate revenue of around $100 million in 2020.


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UK still top for US-EU inbound M&A activity, says new report

Despite Brexit, the UK is still the top destination for US-EU inbound M&A activity, representing nearly 40 per cent of EU deals since 2009 – and activity could pick up with greater Brexit certainty.

The report, which gathers the collective thoughts of Akin Gump lawyers and senior dealmakers at global companies to see how Brexit, global trade disputes and this year’s US elections are shaping the deal landscape, also finds that even though M&A now involves additional layers of geopolitical and regulatory complexity brought on by global trade tensions and political turbulence, deals are getting done.

with Republicans and Democrats offering starkly divergent platforms on a number of key policy issues, the report says the results of the 2020 US elections are certain to influence M&A activity in 2020 and beyond.

Following a decisive UK election outcome, the report suggests that deal activity could pick up. “There is an M&A backlog, as some deals went on hold before the election,” says Akin Gump corporate partner Gavin Weir. “This bodes well for activity in 2020 as buyers and sellers return to the market.”

Sebastian Rice, partner in charge of Akin Gump’s London office, adds: “There is recognition that the [deal] process is more complex, but if you address issues early, deals will close.”

Looking at deal activity in the United States, Jeff Kochian, co-head of Akin Gump’s corporate practice, says: “The US M&A market has been very strong for the last several years. In spite of global trade and political volatility, the strong US economy and bullish equity markets have been particularly helpful to strategic buyers. Private equity has also been very active, doing more, albeit somewhat smaller deals.”

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Musk qualifies for $2.1bn payday after Tesla rally

A prolonged bounce in Tesla’s share price means its chief executive Elon Musk has qualified for a $2.1bn payout, in his second award since May.

The electric carmaker’s six-month average market capitalisation officially surpassed $150bn today, triggering the vesting of the second of 12 tranches of options granted to Musk in 2018.

Musk, who is also majority owner and chief executive of rocket firm Space X, receives no salary.

Tesla is now the world’s most valuable carmaker, almost reaching $300bn this month to be worth more than the market values of Toyota, Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler combined.

It is set to report its quarterly earnings on Wednesday evening, which if profitable, will determine whether Tesla can enter the S&P 500 index on Wall Street.

Analysts’ estimates for Tesla currently range from an adjusted loss as steep as $2.53 a share to a $1.41 per share profit.

However on average, they expect an adjusted 11 cents loss per share and a net loss of $240m, according to Refinitiv data.

Tesla shares have surged more than 275 per cent so far this year, though reporting a loss this evening could send its stock plummeting.

Earlier this month, Tesla surpassed expectations when it announced it had delivered more than 90,000 vehicles in the quarter, defying a wider industry downturn.

But while vehicle deliveries increased 2.5 per cent on a quarterly basis, production dropped nearly 20 per cent. Tesla had previously predicted it would deliver at least 500,000 vehicles by the end of the year.

Its main Fremont carmaking plant was shut for six weeks earlier this year due to lockdown measures during the coronavirus pandemic, putting a dampener on production numbers.

Tesla has said it plans to open a new plant in the south-west of the US as soon as the third quarter, but it has yet to announce a location.

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How Government guidelines are getting UK firms back to business safely

As the restrictions of lockdown have begun to ease, many more of us are returning to the workplace. To help companies get back up and running as safely as possible, the Government has put together Covid-19 secure guidelines.

If you and your staff can’t work from home and do need to return to the workplace to do your job, employers have been introducing a range of measures to reduce the risk of infection.

Government guidelines

These include cleaning, hand washing and an increase in hygiene procedures, with hand sanitisers around the workplace. Workspaces are cleaned and disinfected more regularly, with emphasis on regularly touched surfaces.

Social distancing guidelines (2m) should also be maintained wherever possible and signage acts as a useful reminder.

It’s also recommended that workers don’t share workstations and visitors should be seen by appointment only.

What’s more, the Government recommends that companies adapt staggered arrival and departure times, and employees avoid public transport if possible (see above).

Meet two UK businesses who’ve started their journey back to work, adopting the Government’s Covid-19 guidelines…

Hampton Printing, Bristol

Mike Malpas lives and breathes print. An account director at family-run Hampton Printing near Bristol, his day-to-day job involves high-end print clients. Not only is he usually on the road meeting people, he spends time on the shop floor and manages a team – and wanted to get back to work quickly.

“Our clients still need things printed and this can’t be done from home,” he explains. His company is currently working with the NHS to deliver potentially life-saving materials, as well as Rolls-Royce, among others.

Hampton Printing’s 32,000 square foot space is already a clean, dust-free environment, but the entire workspace had to be altered to ensure it is Covid-19-ready and safe for staff returning to work. Out of its 56 staff, 20 have now returned to work, including Malpas.

Reduced staff numbers help social distancing and, in every area of the business, there is hand sanitation, and signage about social distancing rules. Doors are also kept open so nobody touches the handles.

Hampton Printing also sanitises any paper that is delivered, then leaves it for six hours before printing to maintain high hygiene standards. The company has also retained two full-time cleaners who clean every single work surface on a daily basis.

“These measures make us all feel safe,” Malpas explains. “It feels great to be back at work and getting into a routine again.”

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Hedge fund criticises ‘unjust’ takeover bid for Sirius Minerals

Crispin Odey’shedge fund has attacked Anglo-American’s “unjust” takeover bid for Sirius Minerals, saying the £405m offer does not represent a fair price for shareholders in the troubled fertiliser miner.

Odey Asset Management, which owns 1.3% of Sirius, said it would vote against the mining giant’s 5.5p-a-share bid for the company, which plans to dig the UK’s first deep mine in 40 years under the North York moors.

In an open letter to Anglo’s boss, Mark Cutifani, and Chris Fraser, the chief executive of Sirius, the London-based fund argued that Anglo had stopped short of making a “final” offer so that it could raise its bid to see off any potential counter bid for the company.

Odey said it believed Anglo would be willing to “bid substantially more” for Sirius if a counter bid for the company emerged, which it said proved that the existing offer did not represent a fair price for the company.


“It is Odey’s belief that Anglo American’s current offer does not represent fair value for shareholders in Sirius,” said the letter, which was signed by Odey’s fund manager, Henry Steel. The hedge fund said it would vote against any offer that was not final or that was less than 7p a share.

The existing takeover offer would wipe out the investments of thousands of small shareholders, but it still won the support of the Sirius chairman, Russell Scrimshaw. He said last month it was “the only viable proposal” to save the company’s multibillion-pound project to develop the Woodsmith fertiliser mine under the North York moors.


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OneTrust doubles valuation to $2.7B as consumer data laws go global

Global data privacy laws are quickly minting a new sector in software.

Privacy tech startup OneTrust has raised $210 million in a Series B led by Coatue and Insight Partners. The round values the company at $2.7 billion, just eight months after it raised a $200 million Series A at a $1.3 billion valuation.

OneTrust, based in Atlanta and London, is part of a cohort of startups capitalizing on the growing demands that privacy regulations are placing on businesses. Europe’s GDPR set off a cascade of regulatory efforts around privacy, and the California Consumer Privacy Act took effect this year. Similar efforts are being implemented or considered in other US states and around the world.

OneTrust isn’t the only startup to find itself suddenly flush with cash to tackle privacy concerns. San Jose-based raised $81 million within a year of launching, and fellow data governance firms AvePoint and TrustArc also recently secured large financing rounds.

“This is a space that didn’t really exist four years ago,” said Alan Dabbiere, OneTrust chairman and the founder and former chairman of AirWatch. The significant war chest will allow OneTrust to build its offerings through acquisitions; last year, the startup snapped up two privacy businesses.

The money also demonstrates to potential customers that OneTrust is credible and viable, said Dabbiere. Those characteristics are vital to winning the kinds of large contracts with multinational organizations that the company is targeting.

“The market really rewards platforms,” Dabbiere said. “We are really the first true platform in privacy.” OneTrust says it has grown to 1,500 employees serving 5,000 customers around the world, including nearly half of the Fortune 500, in less than four years.

As demonstrated by the record $5 billion fine imposed on Facebook by the Federal Trade Commission last year, the cost of violating consumer privacy is higher than ever. But even as compliance becomes more stringent, Dabbiere believes that companies’ desire for customer data is only growing. However, they also want to manage that data responsibly and avoid relying on major tech firms to obtain it.

Wherever the fear of regulation meets the desire for data is an opportunity for privacy-focused companies. “What you’ve got is CEOs that have one foot on the gas and one foot on the brake, saying ‘I want to get closer [to customers], but I don’t want to risk my business.’ And I think this is really what’s driving our business,” said Dabbiere.

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European VC enters mega-fund land as Atomico closes on $820 million

Europe’s ever-growing startup ecosystem is prompting venture capitalists to raise ever-larger war chests.

The latest is Atomico, the London-based firm created by Skype co-founder Niklas Zennström, whose team on Tuesday unveiled a final close on $820 million for its fifth fund, a record-setting haul on the heels of a historic year for the European venture market.

Atomico’s new fund marks the largest for an independent venture firm based in Europe, which saw an all-time high of $11.2 billion in VC fundraising industrywide last year, according to PitchBook data. And the typical fund is getting bigger, with the median size rising to an unprecedented $105 million, a trend that is fueling larger funding rounds for startups in Europe and the US alike. European firms Northzone Ventures and Balderton Capital raised $500 million and $400 million funds respectively in late 2019.

For Atomico, the new vehicle is $55 million bigger than its predecessor, Fund IV, which in 2017 hauled in $765 million in the aftermath of the UK’s historic referendum to leave the European Union. The early-stage firm has backed companies like mobile-game developer Supercell, artificial-intelligence specialist Graphcore, and payment platform Klarna.

Atomico partner Hiro Tamura said that despite the bigger fund size, the firm’s strategy remains the same as its fourth fund, albeit serving a European VC market that is more crowded than in past years.

“There will be more competition and there will be more people vying for similar returns,” Tamura said. “I think we will continue to occupy what I think is a very effective zone for us, that is Series A and late venture rounds.”

Atomico acts as lead investor in Europe with a remit that also extends to the US, where it acts as a co-investor. Its new fund, first announced in 2018, also will write checks for Series B and C deals.

Tamura said Atomico’s strategy is to bet on startups in both business and consumer markets, including investments related to payments platforms and deep tech. Its new fund has already started to deploy capital, investing in startups such as diagnostics provider Kheiron Medical, employee-retention specialist Peakon and sales-software platform Automation Hero.


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10 big things: Blue Apron, HQ Trivia move on to Plan B

Blue Apron set out to transform the way people eat. HQ Trivia wanted to build the future of TV. Both companies financed their dreams by raising a lot of money from some of venture capital’s biggest names. And for a while, both companies seemed on the brink of breaking through.

But startup life can be fickle. Gradually, the early success gave way not to failure, but to what’s in some ways worse: irrelevance. And when the next-big-thing buzz wore off, both Blue Apron and HQ Trivia were confronted with the realization that their original plans for supremacy might need a major adjustment.

Blue Apron is publicly seeking a buyer, and HQ Trivia has apparently risen from the dead after a raucous, live-streamed funeral. The existential angst emanating from a pair of former Silicon Valley darlings is one of 10 things you need to know from the past week:

1. Cooks and questions

I’ve written before in some length about the turbulent times at Blue Apron, a company that encapsulates the venture capital world’s brief infatuation with meal-kit delivery startups. This week, along with its Q4 earnings, the company announced it is evaluating strategic options, including a potential merger or outright sale.

Once valued at $2 billion by VCs, life has gotten much tougher for Blue Apron since a 2017 IPO. The company has never turned an annual profit—although it did cut its losses by nearly half from 2018 to 2019, dropping from $122.1 million to $61.1 million—and revenue has been steadily shrinking.

In addition to revealing new financial numbers and plans to sniff around a sale, Blue Apron also announced the closure of a fulfillment center this week. The combination was enough to send the company’s stock price plummeting even further. It closed Friday with a market cap of less than $40 million, meaning its valuation has declined by more than 98% from its VC-backed high point.

If Blue Apron is able to find a buyer, two obvious options might be an established grocery chain or a larger food-delivery company. Those were the routes taken by some of Blue Apron’s former rivals in recent years: Fellow meal-kit startup Plated sold itself to Albertsons, while Home Chef was acquired by Kroger and Maple was gobbled up by Deliveroo.

Talks of an acquisition were also at the root of HQ Trivia’s recent drama.

The startup burst onto the scene in 2017 with its joke-filled, live-streamed trivia games, where users could win money by correctly answering an increasingly difficult slate of questions. The next year, it raised $15 million in a round reportedly led by Founders Fund, valuing the company at $100 million, according to PitchBook data.

Co-founder Rus Yusupov, who previously co-founded Vine, took to the pages of The New York Times to proclaim HQ Trivia’s “ambitions to essentially build the future of TV.” But instead, viewers slowly began to drift away, and funding dried up.

On Valentine’s Day, Yusupov reportedly sent a memo to workers announcing that a planned acquisition had fallen through and that HQ Trivia would cease operations that day. That night, HQ Trivia broadcast what was purportedly its last episode ever, replete with f-bombs, spraying champagne, complaints about high-priced dog food, and statements from host Matt Richards like, “Why are we shutting down? I don’t know. Ask our investors.”

But Monday morning brought a twist. Yusupov tweeted that after a “busy weekend,” he’d found a new buyer for HQ Trivia that wanted to keep the company up and running. Employees and fans are surely trying not to dwell on a succeeding tweet from Yusupov admitting that it’s “[n]ot a done deal yet.”

No matter what happens, we haven’t heard the last of the story. The Hollywood Reporter indicated Friday that The Ringer is planning a new podcast charting the trivia company’s rise and fall.

Today, neither Blue Apron nor HQ Trivia is where they hoped they would be back in 2017. One could go so far as to say recent events at the companies have been disastrous. But the fact remains that both have been more successful than, I don’t know, 97% of all startups that get up and running. Creating a sustainable company is really hard. Almost everyone fails. And almost everyone fails long before the point of making national headlines or reaching a unicorn valuation.

And who knows: Maybe new ownership is all Blue Apron and HQ Trivia need to mount wholesale turnarounds. The past week, though, brought plenty of reason for pessimism.

Grocery shopping may very well be transformed in the coming years, and a new future of TV may be built. But I don’t think Blue Apron and HQ Trivia will be the ones doing it.

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Optiv confirms ‘temporary’ UK closure and turns attention to M&A

Security giant says it is still committed to European expansion

US-based MSSP Optiv has confirmed what it called a “downsizing” of its UK operation, claiming the move is temporary as it turns its attention to M&A.

CRN reported yesterday that Optiv was in the process of shutting down in the UK, keeping on a handful of staff to continue any outstanding customer transactions.


In a statement Optiv called the move “temporary”, insisting that it still has plans to build a presence in Europe and has looked at 40 European businesses to acquire before deciding it “simply couldn’t justify the high valuations of these companies”.

“After a comprehensive strategic review, we’re temporarily downsizing our London-based organic operations,” Optiv said.

“We remain committed to serving the European market, clients, partners and prospects,” it added, claiming it could acquire “once European valuations right-size”.

Optiv’s CMO had previously said that the firm looked at acquiring the likes of SecureData and SecureLink, opting against making a bid because it thought the pair were overvalued.

SecureData was bought last year for a multiple of 20 times its EBITDA.

Micky Patel – partner at August Equity, which sold SecureData to Orange – told CRN earlier this year that the multiple was achieved because SecureData was unique in that it was a cybersecurity service provider that had scaled.

A panel of private equity investors also told delegates at CRN‘s Channel Conference MSP that they believe high multiples are here to stay.


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