Bishopsgate

"Q1 deals subdued as Brexit talks drag on" says The Bishop

As the politicians continue to go round in circles with talks of a Brextension, the uncertainty is filtering into the M&A industry which relies on confidence and clarity. The Bishopsgate deal makers are working on a record number of mandates but this is against a backdrop of subdued dealmaking with many transactions “on ice” pending clarity from Parliament.

According to Experian, a total of 197 deals were completed in the Midlands in Q1 almost 18 per cent lower than 2018’s total for the period of 239 and the lowest level since 2014.

Manufacturing was the Midlands’ busiest industry, having featured in 63 deals – 32 per cent of all announced transactions, whilst the second busiest industry was professional services with 48 announced deals.

The percentage of deals funded by private equity increased marginally on the previous year with 14 per cent or 35 deals having been funded by PE.

Looking forward to the rest of the year, the Bishop expects a significant bounce in M&A activity as soon as the political fog clears.

The Bishopsgate Corporate Finance team move into King’s Mill

King’s Mill, St Peter’s Vale, Stamford. PE9 2QT

King’s Mill, St Peter’s Vale, Stamford. PE9 2QT

The Bishopsgate Corpporate Finance team has moved into King’s Mill, a former watermill on Bath Row in Stamford, following an extensive refurbishment by Burghley Estates.  One of the most historic buildings in the area, a mill was first recorded on the site in the Domesday survey of 1086, and was listed amongst King John’s possessions in the early thirteenth century.

This move and investment signals a statement of intent by BCF as the business continues to invest in its team, infrasture and capabilities to offer market leading M&A advice to owner managers.

KING’S MILL HISTORY

The history of King’s Mill is fascinating.  In 1561, Queen Elizabeth I granted her principal secretary, Sir William Cecil K.G., 1st Baron of Burghley, the manor of Stamford plus the water mill in Stamford, called North Mills.  When acquired by Sir William Cecil, North Mills were also known as “the Queen’s Mills” and by 1627 the mills were referred to as ‘King’s Mill’.

At the end of the sixteenth and start of the seventeenth centuries, King’s Mill was at the centre of a lengthy dispute, locally.  All the inhabitants of Stamford were obliged to grind their corn at King’s Mill or obtain permission to use Stamford’s only other mill - Hudd’s Mill.  However, Stamford’s inhabitants were frustrated by the small capacity of the mill and often took their corn to mills in nearby villages to be ground, whilst some even set up querns in their own property. In 1601, Lord Burghley received the Exchequer’s support to defend his monopoly, but the dispute continued with the people of Stamford until 1640 when the Exchequer decreed that all corn must be taken to King’s Mill ‘provided that if it cannot be ground there within eight and forty hours, then they may take it away to be ground elsewhere’.  We know the current building was constructed around 1640 so it is likely it was built as a result of this decree, in order to increase the mill’s capacity and maintain Lord Burghley’s monopoly.

Joseph Robinson bought the property, then vacant, in 1784 for £100. He erected a granary on the north side of the mill in 1793, together with other alterations and additions. Thomas Gilchrist later bought King’s Mill upon Robinson’s death in January 1823.

The mill was used up until the early 20th Century and the property is now Grade II listed.  In 1967, it was converted into a day care centre for the handicapped before being refurbished by Burghley Estates for Bishopsgate Corporate Finance and its sister company BCF Equity Partners in 2018.

2018 - a bumper year for M&A despite Brexit uncertainty

Despite the Brexit overhang, 2018 was another bumper year for the UK M&A market. According to Experian there were 7,539 deals announced in 2018, up 2.3% on the 7,369 transactions completed in 2017. This was the highest number of annual transactions ever recorded by Experian against a backdrop of political and economic uncertainty.

Deal activity across the Midlands remained relatively static compared to the previous year, with 977 deals announced versus 967 in 2017. Overall, total deal value fell by 1.8% to £18.2bn but it was 35% higher than the 2016 outcome. The Midlands was the third busiest region of the UK in 2018.

Just over 15% of deals in the region were financed via private equity, making it the second most common form of funding in the region. The 150 deals funded by private equity also represented a 34% increase in the number of private equity deals compared to 2017.

Bishopsgate finished the year strongly with the sale of an undisclosed manufacturing business to a listed Indian buyer and, in the last two weeks, completed on the sale of Davies Veterinary, Europe’s leading veterinary hospital to Mars Petcare. The midnight oil is being burnt in Stamford with several deals due to complete in the next 4 to 6 weeks; however, we have several projects “on hold” ready for launch as soon as the cloud lifts over Whitehall. When that will happen is anybody’s guess.