Daily News: July 25, 2014

Grant Thornton Corporate Finance Team Ends Year on High

Grant Thornton’s announced its corporate finance practice ended the latest financial year with considerable momentum behind it.

During the year ending 30 June 2014, Grant Thornton’s corporate finance team was involved in over 140 different deals, covering both buy and sell-side mandates. This includes a significant uptick in private equity (PE) transactions, which saw a 46% increase in volume over the period, compared with the year prior.

The team continued to deliver a substantial number of offers from international buyers on many of its transactions. In particular, deals were completed with several U.S. buyers and also companies based in all of the key European territories. A growing interest was also noted from wider afield such as China and Japan.

Transaction highlights throughout the past year included the $83 million disposal of the filtration division of Andrews Industries Ltd. to US-based Lydall, the £117m ($199 million) sale of fuel distributor Watson Petroleum to World Fuel Service Corp. And the sale of investment and portfolio management software specialist thinkFolio to global financial services information company Markit Group Ltd.

The increased M&A activity has been supported by improved liquidity and availability of capital — both equity and debt, and a step up in IPO activity. The team saw a marked increase in new listing activity on AIM over the year which was reflective of overall improved market conditions with 80 new listings, almost double that of the previous year, raising £2.4bn ($4.09 billion), triple the value on the previous year .

The team has also grown considerably in size over the past year, with 11 senior hires and promotions across the UK, including the appointment of Ali Sharifi as the national head of Grant Thornton’s corporate finance advisory practice.

Ali Sharifi, partner and head of Corporate Finance Advisory at Grant Thornton, commented, “The past year has been a truly exciting ride, and we are optimistic about our growth prospects for the next 12 months. The progressive improvement in the domestic economy and continued performance of international markets has driven interest in merger and acquisition activity significantly upwards over the past year mdash’ particularly in the mid-market segment — and has fuelled a healthy pipeline of deals. M&A is firmly on the agenda of most boards as they focus on driving growth. The momentum in the marketplace, coupled with the enthusiasm and eagerness to develop further as a team, undoubtedly puts us in a perfect position to continue our strong growth.”

Being recognized by Experian Corpfin as the No. 1 financial adviser to UK companies by deal volume earlier this year, the firm’s South West practice was also awarded a host of accolades at this year’s Insider South West Dealmaker Awards. The team was crowned Corporate Finance Team of the Year, along with particular recognition of corporate finance director Mark Naughton as Dealmaker of the Year and scooping the Deal of the Year award for its work with Watson Petroleum.