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The Business Magazine July 2024
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Winners crowned at 2023 Solent Deals Awards

The winners of the 2023 Solent Deals Awards
24 March 2023

A highly competitive line-up of finalists was whittled down by independent judges to winners in 14 categories at the 2023 Solent Deals Awards.

Around 300 finalists, guests and event sponsors packed the Hilton at the Ageas Bowl to hear the winners announced at a gala dinner. The ever-popular TV presenter Mark Durden-Smith hosted the event.

The Awards’ three independent judges were thanked for undertaking the tough job of selecting the region’s most outstanding dealmakers. Richard Thompson, Managing Director of the Awards organiser The Business Magazine, noted: “Again this year, there was an unprecedented number of nominations and much debate by the judges before agreeing on finalists and winners.”

For three award categories – Small, Mid-Range and Large Deals of the Year – an audience vote on the night contributed to 30% of the overall result, in addition to the judges’ 70%.

Matthew Noyce, Director & Client Adviser at headline sponsor UBS said "We are delighted to continue to Headline these awards and to be involved with such a vibrant, collaborative and welcoming community".

The Solent Deals Awards' category sponsors were Azets, Barclays Corporate Banking, Biscoes Solicitors, CMA Recruitment Group, Ellis Jones Solicitors, James Cowper Kreston, Meridian Corporate Finance, Pangea Life, Paris Smith, Shawbrook Bank and Trethowans.

During the evening, £3,135 was raised for Brain Tumour Research. The charity aims to give brain tumour patients the same chance as those with other cancers.

And the winners are…

Private Equity Firm of the Year

Winner: Meridian Growth Capital

“It's been an amazing year for us with some really good exits and the addition of Elecon to the portfolio. Every business we start working with isn't yet the finished article. With our network of contacts and the professionals we work with in the Solent region, we are able to bring them on and round out their management teams so they can drive their businesses forward. I'd like to add a special thank you to Steve Porter at Shoosmiths and Cathy Revis at Fiander Tovell, who have been involved with Meridian since we set up in 2009.” Darren Thompson, Director

Finalists:

• BGF

• Connection Capital

• YFM Equity Partners

Non-Bank Lender of the Year

Winner: MSP Capital

“It's been a brilliant year for us in terms of growing the team and understanding what we can offer as a specialist lender. With 42 years in business, we know the property industry and can offer our clients the flexibility and certainty they need when the markets are changing. We increased our headcount by over 40% because the business is growing quickly and this expansion means we can make sure we continue to offering clients the kind of relationship-led lending that we are so proud of.” Rachel Bartlett, Marketing Manager 

Finalists:

• Leumi ABL

• Onyx Money

• SME Capital

Due Diligence Team of the Year

Winner: James Cowper Kreston

“It's been a fantastic year - we've been busy with many great clients and lots of repeat work. We've worked on a number of international deals where we can reach out to others in the Kreston Global network of firms. Knowing the right people to go to helps get deals done on time. Our robust sense checking is engrained in what we do because we want long-term clients who appreciate receiving the right advice on acquisitions.” Brad McAvoy, Partner, Corporate Finance

Finalists:

• BDO

• PwC

Lawyer of the Year

Winner: Lucy Gleisner – Trethowans 

“I was on maternity leave for five months and feel like I hit the ground running since coming back. Juggling work and being a full-time parent definitely has its challenges. Being a partner in a corporate finance team I can support female colleagues by showing them what it is possible to achieve. For me, it's about having a great team around me as well as making sure you know your clients really well.” Lucy Gleisner, Partner, Corporate Finance

Finalists:

• Steve Cole – Trethowans 

• Oliver Kelly – BDB Pitmans 

• Jeremy Over – Moore Barlow 

• Lisa Sigalet – Shoosmiths 

Young Dealmaker of the Year

Winner: Prabin Sunar – Meridian Corporate Finance

“We had a really strong 12 months coming off the back of the challenges of Covid-19 in the previous few years. There are plenty of good young professionals in the region and Meridian is particularly strong at bringing young people on and is especially big on training and development. We get a lot of face time with clients so we can interact with them, which really helps our personal development.” Prabin Sunar

Finalists:

• Jack Griggs – James Cowper Kreston

• Louis Nutland – Azets

• Guy Pope – BGF

• James Vallence – BDO

• Danny Vallis – KPMG

Bank of the Year

Winner: Santander

“We have some great people in the team and this award is really for Director Andy Syvret. Santander has a big opportunity for growth in the market and we believe a collaborative approach is essential because you need to know the right people in the dealmaking community to succeed. We worked with some great customers during the year, including the refinancing of Hendy Group.” Liz Anderton, Regional Director, Thames Valley and Solent

Finalists:

• HSBC UK 

• NatWest

• Shawbrook

Banker of the Year

Winner: Simon Finch – NatWest 

“I was shocked to win. All the nominees would be worthy winners. As a team, we had a really strong year. I’m fortunate to have some great clients who I really enjoy working with. I love the job and feel privileged to be able to help clients achieve their goals.” Simon Finch, Relationship Director, Solent corporate team

Finalists:

• Gareth Evans – HSBC UK 

• Mikael Rosen – NatWest 

• Matt Shaw – Santander 

• Antony White – NatWest 

Corporate Finance Adviser of the Year

Winner: Philip Mettam – Meridian Corporate Finance 

“It’s been a challenging year. Coming into the autumn we had a number of deals where the original funding structure wasn’t going to be possible because of interest rate rises. We are fortunate in being able to work with others in the Solent dealmaking community which enables us to collectively build solutions for clients. Another of Meridian’s strengths is our understanding of what clients are trying to achieve rather than just trying to get deals over the line.” Philip Mettam, Director

Finalists:

• Gemma Legg – KPMG 

• Nigel Le Bas – Grant Thornton 

• Darren Miller – FRP Corporate Finance 

• Helen O’Kane – BDO 

Corporate Finance Team of the Year

Winner: Azets

“As a firm, we always try to do the best for clients by acting with honesty and doing the right thing in the advice we give. A lot of our work comes via intermediaries who know that this is our approach, even if it sometimes means advising clients they are not yet ready to go to market. Overall, we faced a pretty tough year with transactions taking longer and they have been harder to find.” Rob Holmes, Corporate Finance Partner

Finalists:

• BDO

• FRP Corporate Finance

• James Cowper Kreston

• KPMG

• Meridian Corporate Finance

Law Firm of the Year

Winner: Paris Smith

“We work on a wide range of corporate deals and generally have a pretty good deal flow, so the current economic uncertainties haven’t really impacted us. As a full-service law firm we take a joined-up approach to deals, where our large corporate team is supported by all the other legal disciplines that you need to make a deal work. Our strength in depth means we can add value in our deal work.” Amanda Brockwell, Corporate Partner

Finalists:

• BDB Pitmans

• Blake Morgan

• Moore Barlow

• Shoosmiths

• Trethowans

Small Deal of the Year (under £10m)

Winner: Inspire Accountants sale to Azets

“I was one of Inspire’s three partners. We identified the need for technology expertise and more resources plus the fact that getting people was hard – these were all barriers to us moving to the next level. Azets has the right expertise to add to ours and was a good cultural fit, which was crucial as our culture is such an important part of who we are. It’s been a year since the sale and a good gauge of how it has gone is that we have only had positive feedback from clients.” Chris Downing, Partner, Azets

Finalists:

• Blue Rock Systems sale to Aptech Business Systems 

• MBO of Elecon UK 

• McCarthy Marland acquisition of Hughes & Salvidge

• Sale of Vision Logistical Solutions

• SAL Scientific sale to Advanced Instruments

Mid-Range Deal of the Year (£10m to £50m)

Winner: MBO of CJR Propulsion

“This was an important local deal involving a strong management team. The selling shareholders thought about a trade sale but decided that an MBO was a better way to progress the company. It also meant stability for the employees. MBOs like this work if you have a management team that can see the next level to take the company and have to drive to make progress.” Lucy Gleisner, Partner and Head of Corporate, Trethowans

Finalists:

• Berry Technologies Group sale to Babble 

• FourteenFish sale to EMIS

• Lascar Electronics and Corintech sale to CIMSENSE

• LuxuryCare acquisition of Kingsman House  

• MBO of Partnering Health (PHL)

Large Deal of the Year (over £50m)

Winner: Sale of Workdry International to Arcus Infrastructure Partners

“This was a very difficult and complex deal for a number of reasons – there were so many ‘moving parts’ to it. I genuinely don’t think it would have happened without the resilience of our advisers, particularly KPMG.” Richard Brown, CEO, Workdry International

Finalists:

• Acquisition of Lifeline24 by Appello

• Investment into ITS Technology by Aviva 

• Zenergi sale to ECI

Management Team of the Year

Winner: Workdry International

“This was a long-established family-majority-owned company. Over the years our activities have changed and we are a very different type of business today, especially in providing water treatment solutions. It was the right time for the family to consider an investment opportunity. We looked at different strategic options and decided to gauge what was the market interest in the business. We are now owned by an infrastructure fund that sees us as a medium- to long-term investment, which enables the company to grow and, importantly, to expand internationally. The deal included a bonus for employees because it was important that everybody benefited in the success.” Richard Brown, CEO, and Nigel Apps, CFO, Workdry International

Finalists:

• Nourish Care

• Zenergi


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