Dealmakers from Dow Schofield Watts’ Northern offices recorded another strong year in 2019, with activity levels holding firm against the backdrop of a quieter deals market.
The firm’s corporate finance and transaction services teams in the North advised on 69 deals worth £966m during the year, similar to 2018 when they completed 68 deals worth £1.07bn.
The latest results follow several years of significant growth for Dow Schofield Watts. Since 2015 it has seen a three-fold increase in deals value and has established itself nationally as a leading independent deals advisor. Across the firm as a whole, 2019 was its best year yet with activity at its new London office boosting overall deal volumes and the recent launch of its Aberdeen office promising further growth in the year ahead.
During 2019 the group also expanded its Pandea Global M&A network, which now covers 20 countries and is the ninth largest independent M&A network in the world.
Gregg Pendlington from the corporate finance team said: “We have seen strong activity across all sectors and, against the backdrop of a quieter deals market, are pleased to have bucked the trend. There are two key factors that have helped – firstly, businesses appear to be more resilient to the political uncertainty we have had in recent times. Business owners recognise that they can’t continue putting their strategic plans on hold indefinitely and have been pressing ahead.
“Another factor is the abundance of funding available, which has been really important to counter the macro economic factors at play. If funders are competing hard for your business it gives owners the confidence to press ahead with their objectives.”
During 2019 Dow Schofield Watts’ Northern offices advised on deals including the £220m sale of Proseal, the Cheshire-based food packaging specialist, to Chicago-based JBT Corporation and the buyout of Bolton-based Aptus Group, which designs and install utilities, backed by WestBridge Capital and OakNorth Bank. It also advised on 11 acquisitions by Cheshire-based environmental consultancy RSK.
Ed Brentnall, joint head of the transaction services team, said: “We expected a slow-down in the second half of the year but that certainly didn’t materialise and we have been pleasantly surprised by the level of activity. We work with some highly acquisitive corporate clients and it has been business as usual for them.
“We also have good deal visibility into the coming months, and the number of vendor due diligence opportunities suggests that, regardless of uncertainty, owners will continue bringing their businesses to market, which further supports our optimism for 2020.”
Dow Schofield Watts – which operates a licensing model allowing professionals to run their own business under its banner – now ranks as a top 75 accountancy firm, with over 70 professionals across the UK. It plans to appoint 20 new partners in the next 18 months as it continues to add new service lines and offices.
James Dow, founding partner, said: “Our business has been expanding rapidly in recent years and the current changes taking place within the accountancy market offer potential for much further growth. The Dow Schofield Watts business model offers a genuine alternative to the traditional accountancy and advisory firms and one that is proving attractive to both professionals and clients alike.”