Dana and Melrose tussle over GKN

US auto-engineer Dana Inc. has had an offer accepted to combine with the Driveline division of UK business GKN. The deal would give Dana a 52.75% stake in GKN, which it has secured with an offer of $1.6bn in cash as well as the issue of $3.5bn worth of shares to GKN investors and the assumption of $1bn of net pension liabilities. The offer comes as turnaround specialist Melrose continues to bid for the entirety of GKN. The Melrose proposal has been met with opposition from GKN’s customers, most notably Airbus which accounts for around 7% of GKN’s sales. GKN argues that the Dana offer, meaning splitting the company’s aerospace and driveline businesses, may be more beneficial.

If approved, the merger would secure Dana’s position as a global leader in vehicle drive systems as well as establishing a strong position in electric propulsion, which it sees as the future of vehicle drivetrains. Dana expects to find $235m of annual cost synergies within three years on top of benefits for its customers in improved global coverage, including in key markets such as China, and an enhanced product portfolio. The Dana deal is likely to scupper Melrose’s takeover plans, with GKN dismissing a latest $8.1bn bid.

Swift Group completes management buyout

Swift Group, the owner of motorhome and caravan manufacturer Swift Acquisitions, has completed the second phase of a management buyout, increasing its management’s majority shareholding. Following on from a first transaction in 2012, the MBO has been led by group MD James Turner and group FD Richard Smeaton. The announcement comes as the company reports record sales in the year to August 2017, growing 8% to £273m.

Prudential to split in two

Prudential has announced that it is demerging its US-Asia arm from its UK operations. Prudential plc will be home to the group’s US, Asian and African businesses while M&G Prudential will contain asset management and UK life insurance. The break-up creates two FTSE100 companies, both of which will remain headquartered in London. The move is part of a wider reshaping of the global life insurance industry, as regulatory changes and low interest rates prompt insurers to make hard decisions about where they want to specialise. As part of the restructuring, M&G Prudential has sold a £12bn annuity portfolio to Rothesay Life.

Flowtech splashes £10m on Balu acquisition

Flowtech Fluidpower has agreed to buy Balu Group, the owner of Beaumanor and Derek Lane, for £10.2m. Beaumanor is an importer and distributor of fluid power equipment in the UK, while Derek Lane is a supplier of fluid power products and engineered solutions. The deal sees 44 and 28 employees join Flowtech from the respective businesses, and provides Flowtech with an additional logistics centre in Leicester. Flowtech has announced a share placement with the hope of raising £11m to fund the acquisition.

Unilever chooses Rotterdam for its corporate HQ

Unilever is changing its corporate structure to become a single legal entity incorporated in the Netherlands. The maker of the brands Marmite, Dove, Hellmanns and Lynx has been owned through two separately listed companies, a Dutch N.V. and a UK PLC, since its formation in 1930. Unilever says that a single holding company brings greater simplicity and more flexibility to make strategic changes in its portfolio in the future, such as de-mergers or acquisitions. In addition Unilever is splitting its business into three divisions: Beauty & Personal Care, Home Care, and Foods & Refreshment. The Beauty & Personal Care and Home Care divisions will be based in London, while the Foods & Refreshment division will be headquartered in Rotterdam. Unilever will continue to employ 7,300 people in the UK and 3,100 people in the Netherlands, with its shares remaining listed in London, Amsterdam and New York.

Berlin Packaging wraps up deal for Erben

Berlin Packaging has acquired H. Erben, a supplier of closures, packaging and packaging equipment with a particular strength in the food and drinks sectors. Based in Hadleigh, Erben also owns dedicated operations in South Africa, a Californian base with its California Capsules business and thebottlejarstore.co.uk. Berlin Packaging is a $2.6bn global supplier of rigid packaging products and services. Alongside Bruni Glass, which Berlin Packaging acquired in 2016, the strategic acquisition brings together a 200-strong sales team. Bruni Glass had been a long-term supplier of glass packaging to Erben prior to the deal.

Tossed acquires Vital Ingredient

Salad bar group Tossed has bought Vital Ingredient, a restaurant group specialising in made-to-order salads and soups, from FCFM Group for an undisclosed sum. Vital Ingredient has 13 remaining restaurants, having closed seven upon falling into administration in January this year. The combined group will operate from 38 outlets in London, Welcome Break service stations and Dubai.

Bluestones buys recruitment firm Handystaff

Bluestones Investment Group has acquired Handystaff, a Nottingham-headquartered recruiter for the construction and shopfitting sectors. Handystaff has been provided with investment for a new website, new headquarters and extra staff.

Boi Trading saves Joe Bloggs owner from administration

Manchester-based fashion house and distributor Boi Trading has acquired Juice Corporation out of administration for an undisclosed sum. Also headquartered in Manchester, Juice is the owner of Gabicci, Joe Bloggs and Elizabeth Emanuel.

Hills Balfour bought by MMGY Global

Travel and tourism PR agency Hills Balfour has been taken over by US group MMGY Global for an undisclosed sum. The deal includes Hills Balfour’s offices in London and Dubai, expanding MMGY’s international footprint and taking the company’s workforce to more than 400 employees. MMGY claims to be the world’s largest integrated marketing company specialising in travel and hospitality. Hills Balfour will continue to trade under the same name.