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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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Boeing pledges $100m to help families affected by deadly plane crashes

The aeroplane maker’s boss said he hoped the financial support would help bring “comfort” to those affected by the crashes.


Boeing has set up a $100m (£79.5m) fund to help families and communities affected by two deadly crashes involving its 737 MAX aircraft.

The crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia killed a total of 346 people and prompted the company’s entire 737 MAX fleet to be grounded.

Boeing said the money would be paid over several years towards living expenses and to cover hardship suffered by the families of the passengers who died, as well as for community programmes and economic development in affected areas.

Chief executive Dennis Muilenburg said: “We at Boeing are sorry for the tragic loss of lives in both of these accidents and these lives lost will continue to weigh heavily on our hearts and on our minds for years to come.

“The families and loved ones of those on board have our deepest sympathies, and we hope this initial outreach can help bring them comfort.”


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Fairtrade was going to save the world: now consumers fight to keep it going

When, in 2017, Sainsbury’s announced that it was planning to develop its own “fairly traded” mark, more than 100,000 people signed a petition condemning the move. Today, on the eve of Fairtrade Fortnight, the fact that most supermarkets have moved away from the standards developed by the Fairtrade Foundation is worrying.

While some grocery chains have sought the foundation’s stamp of approval, many have gone their own way. This means most consumers have little sense of which organisation is doing what to protect the wages and rights of developing world workers. Over the next two weeks, the foundation plans to focus its publicity efforts on cocoa farmers in west Africa and the way the Fairtrade mark can improve their lives.

Later this year, the base price of Fairtrade cocoa will increase by 20% from $2,000 a tonne to $2,400. The premium farmers put aside for community projects will also rise by 20%, from $200 to $240. This is great news for the farmers who are part of the scheme – and the higher price is easily within the pockets of chocolate lovers in the rich west.

It is a premium on today’s open market price, which stands at around $2,260 a tonne, and protects farmers from the drops in value that hit the industry in 2017, when it dipped below $2,000.

Yet the focus on cocoa reveals the limits of the Fairtrade system, which was once going to provide a popular alternative to most goods sold on the high street. There are standards for everything from cotton to gold and flowers, but such products are usually only available at specialist providers or the Co-op.

The foundation has tried to persuade some bulk buyers to buy marked goods only, and has had some success. For instance, Transport for London has made sure that the safety vests it provides to staff are made of Fairtrade cotton.

But more local authorities, government agencies and corporations need to follow this lead, ensuring that when they place orders in the thousands, it is always for a Fairtrade product.

Big businesses, with their large personnel departments, have the resources to explain to their workers why Fairtrade matters when they buy stuff, and what it means for those people at the other end of the production process.

But in other sectors, it is left to the Fairtrade Foundation to publicise its efforts and achievements – with the help of its most active members, such as Divine Chocolate.

That is a sad situation. After the great financial crash of 2008, a commodity boom that lasted from 2013 to 2017 turned into a slump that has robbed farmers and developing world governments of vital cash. Just as they were managing to stabilise their finances and set aside money to invest, the world price tumbled and wiped out their profit. Fairtrade practices protect farmers from this sort of setback and allow them to plan for the future.

Of course they have their critics. These are most mostly from the US – people who favour unfettered markets and seek to undermine the Fairtrade ideal, saying it is a form of protectionism that dampens innovation and ultimately ruins farms.

Theirs is an almost religious adherence to the free market that discounts the gains in stability and security that Fairtrade provides, and the scope of the community premium to promote universal education and the rights of women.

But without large employers making strides to adopt the standardised and transparent Fairtrade practices put forward by the foundation, it will be left to consumers to drive the project forward.

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Satirical News Website The Daily Mash Sold for £1.2m

The satirical news website the Daily Mash, which provided the inspiration for the Nish Kumar BBC comedy show The Mash Report, has been sold for £1.2m.

The site is known for spoof headlines such as “It wasn’t worth it, says 103-year-old vegetarian”, “Only people who still want Brexit are inexplicably angry posh couple with two labradors”, and “Man worried he’s the last of his friends to have an article in Guardian”.

Its co-founders Paul Stokes and Neil Rafferty, former national newspaper reporters, are in line for a payday after they agreed to sell the site’s parent company, Mashed Productions, to Digitalbox, a media company in Bath.

The Daily Mash has a loyal following built up during 12 years of publishing. Despite the site’s relatively high profile, its parent company recorded revenues of £396,000 and a profit before tax of £135,000 in the last financial year, showing the tight budgets in ad-supported online publishing.

The site, which has two full-time members of staff and relies on a pool of freelance writers, will become part of Digitalbox, which also owns the website Entertainment Daily. The combined business is intending to list on the Aim stock market next month and then acquire other digital publishers.

In a decidedly un-Daily Mash statement to the stock market, the new parent company said the site was “capable of consistently generating high-quality, original humour content which is extremely hard to replicate” and “has increasingly turned its attention to satirising social tribes and trends to produce highly viral content of a more timeless nature that has a much broader and longer appeal than daily news”.

The Daily Mash attracted 1.8 million visitors a month, the vast majority of them in the UK and most of them coming from social media referrals from the likes of Facebook.

Rafferty, the Daily Mash’s editor-in-chief, said: “This is a great opportunity for the Mash to build on what we have created so far. My co-founder, Paul Stokes, did an incredible job building a profitable business from the ground up.”

The site has occasionally spread confusion, notably when Sky News inadvertently read out a spoof Daily Mash headline claiming the former London mayor Ken Livingstone had a pet newt called Adolf, at the height of claims about antisemitism in the Labour party.

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KKR stock surges after first earnings as a corporation

KKR’s conversion to a corporation is paying off for stockholders.

The New York-based buyout shop announced its 3Q earnings on Thursday, including after-tax distributable earnings of $496.7 million, or 60 cents per share, a YoY increase of 21.3% and about in line with analyst predictions. The firm also reported $640.2 million in profit attributable to shareholders, up more than 300% YoY. KKR’s stock responded positively, closing Thursday up more than 6% on a day the market rebounded from a recent sell-off, thanks in part to several strong earnings reports across the corporate spectrum.

KKR changed its tax structure from a partnership to a corporation on July 1 in hopes of making its shares more accessible on indices. As a result, the firm has stopped reporting its economic net income, an opaque metric that publicly traded peers such as Blackstone, The Carlyle Group and Apollo Global Management use to grade performance.

So far, KKR management likes the results.

“We’re encouraged by the earnings we are having,” said Craig Larson, the firm’s head of investor relations. “We feel like we’re seeing an increase in the breadth of our shareholders.”

Co-COO and co-president Scott Nuttall took away positives both from KKR’s results and the wider market downturn, saying the firm will be able to grow at a faster pace if valuations drop.

“We saw this coming out of the financial crisis a decade ago,” Nuttall said. “We can also buy back our stock at lower prices. From our seat, our stock is worth even more today and our firm has even more opportunities and better prospects than a month ago.”



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No-deal Brexit could hit food supplies

A no-deal Brexit could affect food supplies and see traders bypass Great Britain, the ferry firm Stena Line has warned.

There is “very little readiness” at ports and “anxiety is high”, said Ian Hampton senior executive at the global ferry operator.

Stena is the largest ferry operator in the Irish sea and owns three UK ports.

The government said it had proposed an ambitious future relationship with the EU to keep trade flowing.

Mr Hampton said there was a possibility Stena Line would reduce services to and from the UK as a result of Brexit.

“We can’t plan on the basis of what we don’t know, so we’re very anxious about the outcome,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme.

He warned traders could stop using Great Britain to get from Ireland and Northern Ireland to the rest of the EU, and instead sail direct to the continent.

A no-deal Brexit that created friction on the Northern Ireland border, or delays if extra checks were put in place between Great Britain and Northern Ireland to implement what’s become known as a Brexit backstop, could have a significant impact on trade flows, he said.

‘Huge concerns’

Asked if added friction at borders could result in fewer Stena Line sailings to and from UK ports, he said that while the firm did not want to move routes “this could be one of the implications”.

He called for clarity from the government about what trade declarations would be necessary in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Without it, he said, delays at ports could affect whether food got to supermarket shelves on time.

Mr Hampton, chief people and communications officer at Stena Line, was also worried about whether a new computer system to handle customs declarations – known as CDS – or its predecessor, could cope with a sharp increase in volumes following a no-deal Brexit.

“We’re concerned about that,” he said. “I’m not sure it can. This is a system that was not written for the purpose we’re now asking of it and I think that would [create] huge concerns.”

  • EU ready to extend transition period
  • Eurostar disruption risk in no-deal Brexit
  • Watch: How could Brexit affect trade with Ireland?

Stena operates three UK ports, Holyhead, Fishguard and Cairnryan, and carries more than seven million passengers and two million units of freight to and from the UK each year.

A government spokesman said it was engaging with ports, and senior officials had visited those owned by Stena Line.

“It is crucial to keep trade flowing when we leave the EU,” the spokesman said.

“That is why we are proposing a pragmatic and ambitious future economic relationship with the EU, and we remain committed to reaching agreement on the Withdrawal Agreement and future framework this autumn.”


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Six big things: Peter Thiel, Palantir and the power of information

Peter Thiel is a proud nerd. So it only makes sense he named his data-mining startup after a creation of JRR Tolkien.

In “The Lord of the Rings,” a palantir is a powerful crystal ball, a sort of telepathic device that shows the viewer glimpses of both present and past; in Tolkien’s invented High Elvish language, “palantir” means “far-seeing.” It’s a way to gain knowledge, offering information that would otherwise be impossible to obtain. This, surely, was what Thiel had in mind when he co-founded Palantir Technologies nearly 15 years ago.

Yet in the possession of the powerful, the palantir can have a dark side. In Tolkien’s trilogy, a palantir falls into the hands of Saruman, a wizard who’s believed to be leading the battle against the dark lord Sauron. But Sauron has a palantir, too. And he uses it to manipulate Saruman, sending him images and messages—in other words, data—that convince Saruman the fight is hopeless, that the only option is to embrace evil. The palantir brings Saruman new and powerful information, yes. But it’s up to him to make sense of it. Humans (or wizards, as it were) still have to process the information a palantir provides.

Which brings us back to Palantir, with an uppercase P. Thiel’s startup has created what is by all accounts one of the most powerful tools for data collection and analysis in human history, one that could be used to discover life-saving new drugs and fight financial fraud. But it’s also one that can (and has) been used for much more nefarious means. Its original purpose was as a tool of war in Afghanistan and Iraq. Across the US, it’s being deployed by police departments for the rather “Minority Report” purpose of “predictive policing.” By tracking in detail the everyday lives of American citizens, Palantir’s software could in certain hands be a serious threat to safety and privacy. All that data still must be processed.

The company’s name may be more accurate than Thiel ever intended.

Minor controversies have erupted, but for the past decade-and-a-half, Palantir has largely managed to stay out of the public eye. Will that change if it becomes a publicly traded company? The fact that we may be about to find is one of the six big things to know from the past week in VC:

1. A Palantir IPO looms

Reports emerged this week that the Thiel-founded startup is working with Morgan Stanley on an IPO for either 2019 or 2020. The financials around such an offering will be highly interesting: While Palantir’s valuation topped $20 billion in 2015, a Bloomberg report from earlier this year indicated Morgan Stanley had marked its valuation of the company down by some $6 billion. Palantir expects to turn a profit this year for the first time.

2. Farewell, sweet Theranos

The most spectacular collapse in venture capital history is almost complete. As soon as September 10, Theranos will officially begin winding down its operations after spending the past five months seeking a miracle round of funding, according to a letter sent to investors this week by CEO David Taylor. A one-time $9 billion valuation is long, long gone. May the blood-testing startup live forever as the ultimate example of why investors should conduct at least a titch of due diligence.

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Medallia Brings On New CEO To Take It Public

Medallia has hired Leslie Stretch as its new chief executive in the run-up to a public offering that could come early next year, per Forbes. The company, which offers a SaaS app that captures customer feedback for companies, has been led by co-founder Borge Hald since its launch 17 years ago. Hald will move into an executive chairman and chief strategy officer role. Stretch, meanwhile, was most recently CEO of Callidus Software, a CRM software provider that was acquired by SAP for $2.4 billion earlier this year.

Medallia, founded in 2001, is ripe for an exit. Over the years, Sequoia has been a major backer of the San Mateo, CA-based company. Here’s a quick look at its funding and valuation history:

2010: $13M round | $31M valuation
2012: $35M | $103M
2014: $50M | $475M
2015: $150M | $1.3B

Learn more about Medallia in its free profile.

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Is Genstar Capital The Next Private Equity Powerhouse?

Predicting the future is a difficult thing, as private equity investors know all too well. But if the recent past is any indication, Genstar Capital could be on the verge of assuming a starring role on the industry’s stage.

First, there’s the fundraising. Genstar closed its latest flagship buyout fund on $3.95 billion last year, which represented a nearly 100% increase from its previous effort, a $2.1 billion pool from 2015. That vehicle was in turn more than 100% larger than its predecessor. If Genstar keeps doubling the size of its funds—which is admittedly a tall proposition—it won’t be long before those vehicles are among the largest in private equity.

And then there are the deals. Genstar completed 24 investments during 1Q, according to PitchBook data, more than any other PE firm in the US. That continues a recent flurry of activity: Genstar has executed nearly 150 transactions since the start of 2016, more than in the previous nine years combined:

What kinds of deals are driving this rapid rise? Who are the firm’s key decision-makers? And where did Genstar come from?

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Banking On it?

William Hague, the former leader of the UK Conservative Party, has warned the policies of central banks are pumping up stock markets and house prices, threatening an “almighty crash”.

In a column for the UK’s Telegraph Hague said the accumulating effects of loose monetary policy globally was intensely political.

“When pension funds renege on promises, or inequality widens further, or savers become desperate, huge public and political anger is going to burst over the heads of the world’s central banks,” he wrote.

“The only way out is for the US Fed to summon the courage to lead the way to higher interest rates, and others to follow slowly but surely. If they fail to do so, the era of their much-vaunted independence will come, possibly quite dramatically, to its end.”

In 2008 central banks had reacted to crisis by cutting rates to record lows and embarking on quantitative easing, pumping trillions of dollars into their economies, Hague wrote in his column in the Telegraph.

“The trouble is that eight years later they are, to varying degrees, still doing it.
Like doctors keeping their patients on a drip many years after an operation, they are losing credibility and producing very dangerous side effects.”

Hague listed a number of drawbacks to this policy including savers finding it impossible to earn a worthwhile return, “which drives them into riskier assets thus causing the price of houses and shares to be inflated ever higher”.

“Higher asset prices make people who own them much richer, while leaving out many others, seriously exacerbating social and political divides and fuelling the anger behind “populist” campaigns,” he wrote.

Pumping up the prices of stock markets and houses without an underlying improvement in economic performance would become increasingly difficult to unwind “and ultimately threatens an almighty crash whenever it does come to an end – wiping out business and home buyers who got used to ultra-low rates for too long”.

The purpose of independence for central bankers was so that they could be brave enough to make people confront reality, Hague wrote.

“Yet in reality they are blowing up a bubble of make-believe money to avoid immediate pain, except for penalising the poor and the prudent.