Deal barometer February 2019

The start of 2019 has been packed with activity within the UK private equity and venture capitalist community. See below a round-up of February’s latest and significant PE news.

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  • Dentons advised Graphite Capital on the sale of UK healthcare brand sk:n to TriSpan. Nicholas Plant, co-leader of Dentons’ global Private Equity Practice said: “We are delighted to have advised Graphite, a longstanding client, on the successful sale of this business.” 
  • Dublin-based Causeway Capital Partners stepped in and saved Patisserie Valerie. The “heritage brand” has been bought out of administration after an alleged fraud caused its collapse last month. On completion, Causeway said they hope to keep all 96 sites open. 
  • Financial services-focused firm Preservation Capital Partners – which last year acquired an interest in the insurTech-driven cyber and specialty lines MGA Ascent Underwriting (Ascent) – has made a strategic investment in US construction-focused MGA Cove Programs (Cove). Together they will manage over USD200 million GWP, making it one of the largest independently owned emerging risk and specialty lines MGAs. Ascent and Cove will continue to operate under their respective market-leading brands. 
  • Dorna Sports – the commercial rights holder for the motorcycling sport of MotoGP – was acquired by Bridgepoint in 2006. Bridgepoint are currently in talks with investors to shift its stake from one fund to another thus bypassing a sale to rivals. Bridgepoint – who valued the company at circa €500m – declined to comment. This comes after Bridgepoint appointed Lazard late last year to explore a potential sale generating rumoured interest from private equity groups such as CVC, Eurazeo, Blackstone, General Atlantic and KKR. 
  • Motor finance brokerage Evolution has secured investment from private equity investor LDC. This investment has seen several NED appointments including LDC Directors Andrew Lyndon and Lawrence Dean. In addition, Steve Weller is to be appointed non-executive Chairman (ex CEO of LDC backed uSwitch) along with NED Tim Porter (ex-managing director of Lex Autolease). 
  • Exponent Private Equity is expected to agree to a restructuring of Bullitt Group, the branded mobile phone designer. The change of control is expected to see the Business Growth Fund – a £2.5bn vehicle set up by the UK’s biggest high street lenders in the aftermath of the financial crisis – play a leading role in Bullitt’s future. 
  • LDC invested £437m during 2018 in 23 new deals, a record for the business.  LDC – which typically invests between £5m and £100m in a single transaction – said the deals were driven by continuing demand for private equity from UK SMEs.