Dow Schofield Watts advised on 42 deals worth over £770m during 2016 – an increase in value of almost half a billion pounds on the previous year.

The firm said it that 2016 had been a landmark year for its own business as well as the wider northern dealmaking community. There was strong deal activity driven both by strategic trade buyers and private equity investors and, while the Brexit vote  introduced an element of uncertainty, companies had taken the attitude that it was business as usual while they awaited further tangible news.

During the year Dow Schofield Watts continued to strengthen its capabilities with the arrival of experienced investor David Smith to head its technology advisory team, which has contributed to a threefold increase in technology driven transactions in the year, and international M&A tax expert Nick Woodward to lead its tax advisory arm. It also expanded its forensic arm as a result of the merger with forensic accountancy firm Bridge Houghton LLP.

A strong run of deal completions in the first half of 2016 continued into the second half. Key deals it advised on during the year included the management buy-out of the water and wastewater specialist IETG Group from its US parent company IDEX Corporation; the management buy-in at Barnsley-based windows and decking fabricator SASH-Fitrite group by the former Safestyle management team John Ross and Nick Lilburn funded by Praesidian Capital; and the BGF and HSBC investment in Sheffield based leisure parks owner operator Coppergreen Developments.

It also advised on the sale of public sector software business Open Objects to Idox plc; the acquisition of Martract by Sheffield-based Pressure Technologies plc; and that of SAS Direct & Partitioning by SIG Plc, the FTSE 250 materials distribution specialist. The firm has a strong pipeline of deals which should result in a number of completions in the first half of 2017.

During the year the firm’s private equity arm PHD Equity Partners also sold its stake in leading tattoo supplies business Barber of Sheffield to RJD Partners in a deal which represented an internal rate of return (IRR) of 44.5%.

Roger Esler, Corporate Finance Director at Dow Schofield Watts for Yorkshire & the North East commented: “During 2016 we have continued to build our capabilities and expand our offering in line with our goal to become the independent advisor of choice for commercial and private equity clients. It has been a landmark year for us and for the wider northern dealmaking community.

“With a plethora of new private equity and debt funds together with the continuing activity of international strategic buyers confident in the fortunes of the UK, we expect the market activity to be both strong and diverse in 2017. Business owners and shareholders are enjoying a wide range of options both to raise finance and crystallise value. Obtaining advice from experienced specialist corporate finance advisers is the best means of evaluating and unlocking these opportunities.”

Rob McCarthy, Partner with Dow Schofield Watts Transaction Services, said: “Although we noticed a short pause in the region’s deal activity in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote, a strong final quarter to 2016 saw DSW Transaction Services support 11 completed deals in the Yorkshire and North East region. With demand coming from private equity firms, venture capital trusts, large corporates and banks, it promises to be a very positive start to 2017.”