Next 15 acquires Brandwidth Group

Digital communications specialist Next 15 has announced the acquisition of Brandwidth Group for up to £10.3m. The UK-based ‘innovation agency’ caters to clients including Apple, Disney, Royal Caribbean, Toyota and Vodafone. Next 15 has cited Brandwidth’s expertise in voice-activated marketing, as applied through platforms such as Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa, as a particular draw.

ComfortDelGro Corporation has moved to expand its UK bus and coach operations with the acquisition of New Adventure Travel. NAT Group is a leading bus and coach operator in South Wales, managing a fleet of 117 buses and coaches across four depots in Cardiff, Swansea, Newport and Pontypridd. The £13.4m acquisition is Comfort’s first outside of London, where its subsidiary Metroline operates a fleet of some 1,700 buses.

Swedish lock manufacturer ASSA ABLOY has acquired Progress Venture Group, the owner of Dale Hardware and Excel Architectural Hardware. The deal extends the company’s portfolio of architectural hardware products for sale to builder’s merchants in the UK and Middle East markets. Established in 1974, Dale Hardware is headquartered near Leeds and employs approximately 70 people.

American Express Global Business Travel is to acquire Hogg Robinson Group, a global b2b services company specialising in travel management. HRG recently announced that it is selling Fraedom, its payments technology subsidiary, to Visa for £141.8m. Depending on the outcome of this deal, AmEx is to pay between 110p and 120p for each Hogg Robinson share, which values its British rival at between £375m and £410m. The merger of AmEx GBT and HRG brings together the world’s two largest travel management companies. AmEx GBT employs approximately 12,000 employees and has operations in nearly 140 countries worldwide.

Swedish food packaging business Duni has acquired a 75% stake in Kindtoo, trading as Biopac, from enterpeneurs Mark Brigden and Eric Graham. Established in 2002, Biopac employs 12 staff in the creation of food packaging and service products using sustainable materials. The company will be incorporated into Duni’s Business Area Meal Service.

Trinity Mirror has announced that it is acquiring the publishing assets of Northern & Shell. The deal includes the Daily Express, Sunday Express and Daily Star, the OK!, new! and Star celebrity magazines and a 50% joint interest in the Irish Daily Star. The £126.7m purchase price includes an initial cash payment of £47.7m, deferred cash consideration of £59m payable over 2020-2023, and the balance of £20m in the issue of new shares. Trinity Mirror will also make a one-off cash payment of £41.2m to the Northern & Shell pension schemes, with a further £29.2m agreed through to 2027. The acquisition allows the group to reduce duplication, share content and widen the breadth of coverage between its titles, and is expected to deliver £20m in annualised cost synergies by 2020. Trinity Mirror employs 5,300 people and owns a large portfolio of regional newspapers as well as the Labour-supporting Daily and Sunday Mirror. It had been in talks to take over Northern & Shell’s Brexit-supporting papers since autumn.

Reliance Mutual’s takeover by Life Company Consolidation Group (LCCG) is to be decided by the High Court in a hearing in March. Founded in 1911, Reliance Mutual is owned by around 10,000 members who voted 98% in favour of the sale in December. Based in London, LCCG owns Utmost Wealth Solutions and intends to use the acquisition as a platform to secure more traditional books of life business in the UK.

Arla Foods has bought Yeo Valley Dairies, securing access to the Yeo Valley brand for milk, butter, spreads and cheeses. The Yeo Valley yoghurt, ice cream, cream and desserts business will continue to be run independently through Yeo Valley Group. Arla’s ambition is to encourage more customers to switch from standard to organic products. The company believes that organic milk in particular is currently underrepresented in the UK (at only 4% of total market sales) compared to other European countries such as Germany (10%), Sweden (16%) and Denmark (29%). 60% of all growth in the UK milk market was attributable to organic products in the last 12 months.

IML Labels & Systems has completed a merger with Longcombe Labels and Leeds Marque Concepts, creating Dura-ID Solutions. The combined £14m-turnover firm employs 100 people across its five sites in Cambridge, County Durham, Mansfield, Paignton and Sheffield.

360 Chartered Accountants has announced a merger with fellow Yorkshire firm Walsh & Co. The deal expands 360’s capacity and resources while giving Walsh & Co full use of 360’s offices in Hull, Melton and East Hull, in addition to its own site in Withernsea.

Next 15 acquires Brandwidth Group

Digital communications specialist Next 15 has announced the acquisition of Brandwidth Group for up to £10.3m. The UK-based ‘innovation agency’ caters to clients including Apple, Disney, Royal Caribbean, Toyota and Vodafone. Next 15 has cited Brandwidth’s expertise in voice-activated marketing, as applied through platforms such as Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa, as a particular draw.

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Metroline owner ComfortDelGro buys Welsh bus operator

ComfortDelGro Corporation has moved to expand its UK bus and coach operations with the acquisition of New Adventure Travel. NAT Group is a leading bus and coach operator in South Wales, managing a fleet of 117 buses and coaches across four depots in Cardiff, Swansea, Newport and Pontypridd. The £13.4m acquisition is Comfort’s first outside of London, where its subsidiary Metroline operates a fleet of some 1,700 buses.

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ASSA ABLOY opens doors with Ossett acquisitions

Swedish lock manufacturer ASSA ABLOY has acquired Progress Venture Group, the owner of Dale Hardware and Excel Architectural Hardware. The deal extends the company’s portfolio of architectural hardware products for sale to builder’s merchants in the UK and Middle East markets. Established in 1974, Dale Hardware is headquartered near Leeds and employs approximately 70 people.

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AmEx Global Business Travel to buy Hogg Robinson

American Express Global Business Travel is to acquire Hogg Robinson Group, a global b2b services company specialising in travel management. HRG recently announced that it is selling Fraedom, its payments technology subsidiary, to Visa for £141.8m. Depending on the outcome of this deal, AmEx is to pay between 110p and 120p for each Hogg Robinson share, which values its British rival at between £375m and £410m. The merger of AmEx GBT and HRG brings together the world’s two largest travel management companies. AmEx GBT employs approximately 12,000 employees and has operations in nearly 140 countries worldwide.

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Duni wraps up deal for Biopac

Swedish food packaging business Duni has acquired a 75% stake in Kindtoo, trading as Biopac, from enterpeneurs Mark Brigden and Eric Graham. Established in 2002, Biopac employs 12 staff in the creation of food packaging and service products using sustainable materials. The company will be incorporated into Duni’s Business Area Meal Service.

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Trinity Mirror announces £200m deal for Express and Star titles

Trinity Mirror has announced that it is acquiring the publishing assets of Northern & Shell. The deal includes the Daily Express, Sunday Express and Daily Star, the OK!, new! and Star celebrity magazines and a 50% joint interest in the Irish Daily Star. The £126.7m purchase price includes an initial cash payment of £47.7m, deferred cash consideration of £59m payable over 2020-2023, and the balance of £20m in the issue of new shares. Trinity Mirror will also make a one-off cash payment of £41.2m to the Northern & Shell pension schemes, with a further £29.2m agreed through to 2027. The acquisition allows the group to reduce duplication, share content and widen the breadth of coverage between its titles, and is expected to deliver £20m in annualised cost synergies by 2020. Trinity Mirror employs 5,300 people and owns a large portfolio of regional newspapers as well as the Labour-supporting Daily and Sunday Mirror. It had been in talks to take over Northern & Shell’s Brexit-supporting papers since autumn.

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Insurer Reliance to end 100 years of mutual ownership

Reliance Mutual’s takeover by Life Company Consolidation Group (LCCG) is to be decided by the High Court in a hearing in March. Founded in 1911, Reliance Mutual is owned by around 10,000 members who voted 98% in favour of the sale in December. Based in London, LCCG owns Utmost Wealth Solutions and intends to use the acquisition as a platform to secure more traditional books of life business in the UK.

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Arla Foods acquires Yeo Valley Dairies

Arla Foods has bought Yeo Valley Dairies, securing access to the Yeo Valley brand for milk, butter, spreads and cheeses. The Yeo Valley yoghurt, ice cream, cream and desserts business will continue to be run independently through Yeo Valley Group. Arla’s ambition is to encourage more customers to switch from standard to organic products. The company believes that organic milk in particular is currently underrepresented in the UK (at only 4% of total market sales) compared to other European countries such as Germany (10%), Sweden (16%) and Denmark (29%). 60% of all growth in the UK milk market was attributable to organic products in the last 12 months.

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Dura-ID Solutions created with UK merger

IML Labels & Systems has completed a merger with Longcombe Labels and Leeds Marque Concepts, creating Dura-ID Solutions. The combined £14m-turnover firm employs 100 people across its five sites in Cambridge, County Durham, Mansfield, Paignton and Sheffield.

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360 Chartered Accountants merges with Walsh & Co

360 Chartered Accountants has announced a merger with fellow Yorkshire firm Walsh & Co. The deal expands 360’s capacity and resources while giving Walsh & Co full use of 360’s offices in Hull, Melton and East Hull, in addition to its own site in Withernsea.

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