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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between Yellow Jersey Logistics and LCS Evolution

Benchmark International is pleased to announce the transaction between Yellow Jersey Logistics (PTY) Ltd and LCS Evolution (Pty) Ltd.

Yellow Jersey Logistics (Pty) Ltd offers niche transport solutions to the clearing and forwarding industry. The company has become entrenched in the industry, forming an integral part of their clients’ service offerings through reliability, speed, and the ability to tailor bespoke solutions. The company’s client base comprises leading freight forwarders and clearing agents, dealing with the import and export of a variety of goods. The company has maintained these relationships through excellent customer service.

The LCS Group (Pty) Ltd is a diversified logistics and end-to-end supply chain solutions business, operating primarily within the bulk mining and materials industry. The Group is driven by an entrepreneurial spirit and a desire for innovation and comprises several companies, including LCS Logistics, LCS Transport Solutions, Bay Shipping, LCS Fuels, LCS Prime Agri, LCS Fleet Support, and LCS Financial Services.

The LCS Group’s Head Office is situated in Heidelberg, Gauteng, with satellite offices/depots in Newcastle, Richards Bay, Durban, Kuruman, Brits, Delmas, Cape Town, Hoopstad & Camperdown.

 

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Reon Britz, the CEO of LCS Group, said: “Yellow Jersey represents a key pillar within LCS’s logistics and supply chain portfolio and will enable the Group to further diversify its offering within the industry as well as positions it strongly for future growth. We would like to thank the Benchmark Intl team and in particular, Johann Haasbroek, for all the assistance in getting this important transaction across the line. We really appreciate all the efforts.”

Commenting on the transaction, Transaction Director Johann Haasbroek with Benchmark International added, “Transactions of this nature are particularly enjoyable when the synergies are self-evident, and the benefit to both entities easily apparent. I am confident that with LCS’s resources brought to bear, an already very successful company will go on to flourish still further in such a group environment.”

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between River City Medical Associates and Skylight Health Group, Inc.

Benchmark International successfully facilitated the transaction between River City Medical Associates (RCMA), a Florida network of medical clinics, and Skylight Health Group, Inc. of Ontario, Canada.

The seller, RCMA, is a multi-location, multi-specialty medical group offering various services, including primary care, urgent care, chiropractic treatment, physical therapy, pain management, neurology, otolaryngology, plastic surgery, and podiatry. The buyer, Skylight Health, is a healthcare and technology company operating in the U.S. market with more than 30 medical clinics across 14 states.

The acquisition of a U.S. healthcare provider by a Canadian healthcare company introduced unique vectors for a successful deal. Regulatory hurdles existed on both sides, adding depth to the deal dynamics.

 

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Skylight Health Co-Founder and CEO Prad Sekar noted of the process, “Benchmark International was able to facilitate a smooth and quick transaction that helped both parties achieve their goals. We highly recommend them to anyone looking to purchase a company.”

Regarding the deal completion, Transaction Director William Sullivan and Benchmark International commented, “Because this process involved the purchase of a private US healthcare provider by a publicly-traded Canadian acquirer, there were a number of regulatory and other issues to navigate. Ultimately, however, we found the right buyer for our fantastic client and were thrilled to manage the complexity necessary to get a great outcome for both parties.”

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Reasons For Optimism In An Uncertain Oil & Gas Market

In December 2020, U.S. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette told CNBC's Hadley Gamble that American shale producers should be concerned about their industry's future.[1] Secretary Brouillette stated: “…there are some in Congress who are going to drive a climate policy that's going to be very aggressive. So there may be a concern on the part of those folks, I know the ESG (Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance) movement is very strong.” Secretary Brouillette also added that, “The investment money may become a bit more difficult to get,” and, “Those are all policies where we’ll have to wait and see what happens with this new Congress.”

While it may be politically convenient for those in a Republican administration to criticize their incoming Democratic successors, oil and gas investors should be hesitant to trust outgoing bureaucrats' economic analyses. Reasons for investor optimism can be found in past administration precedents' realities, current stakeholder adaptions, and the future uphill battle facing any reforms backed by President Joe Biden and his cabinet.

Obama-Biden Administration Precedents

For more than a decade, President Barack Obama’s Democratic party was conveniently used as the boogeyman for Republican politicians’ intent on gaining the favor of oil and gas companies and investors. However, in retrospect, the Obama administration—which included then-Vice President Biden—was a far greater friend to the industry than most pundits speculated. That administration’s treatment of the industry can be a useful precedent for setting appropriate expectations for the Biden administration’s treatment of the industry.

Obama’s tendency to favor working with the energy industry rather than to impede it led to drastic and unexpected results.[2] By the end of his two terms in office, natural gas had realized a massive uptick in both production (a 35% increase) and consumption (a 19% increase). In December 2015, Obama threatened to veto the North American Energy Infrastructure Act, which would have repealed 40-year-old oil export bans.[3] This would ultimately prove to be posturing for political negotiations, as Obama would go on to approve the export of U.S. crude by signing the 2016 omnibus budget just weeks later.[4] The Obama-Biden administration also loosened restrictions on LNG exports. Under their administration, the U.S. Department of Energy approved 24 LNG export licenses and denied none.[5]

This unexpectedly moderate approach by Obama can be accredited to two primary domestic policy issues: national security and climate change. Commentators frequently constrain their negative analyses of oil and gas's future with a reminder that domestic energy independence remains an important consideration in national security. While debate exists on whether American “energy independence” could indeed ever exist given the reality of American import trends, regulations on the industry will continue to be tied to deliberations on the country's reliance on foreign producers.

The second factor in the Obama-Biden administration's relatively moderate industry regulation was, surprisingly, climate change concerns. In particular, Obama's unexpected friendship towards natural gas has been credited to his administration’s belief that natural gas could assist in mitigating climate change. Forbes wrote in 2019 that President Obama, “supported natural gas as an essential strategy to cut greenhouse gas emissions by displacing coal and also backing up intermittent wind and solar power.” His treatment of LNG exports ultimately proved consistent with President Donald Trump's treatment of the natural gas industry. At a press conference in early 2019, Dr. Fatih Birol, the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, stated that over the past decade, “the emissions reduction in the United States has been the largest in the history of energy.”[6] Standing by his side at this press conference—which essentially credited the energy policy continuity of Obama/Trump with this success—was Trump’s own Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry.

 

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Stakeholder Adaptions in the Face of Progressive Policy Initiatives

Secretary Perry’s comments in that same press conference are indicative of what the private sector has worked to accomplish while operating under burgeoning public pressure to address climate change concerns. He stated that, “without carbon capture, any planned climate target is impossible to meet.” Carbon capture, commonly referred to as carbon capture and storage (CCS), uses technology to capture the release of carbon dioxide during fossil fuel usage. After capturing the gas, operators transport it to an underground storage facility. The method has become an increasingly popular solution amongst producers to manage emissions and mitigate environmental damage.

While elected officials continue to negotiate and posture on broad regulatory changes like the Green New Deal, private sector stakeholders are already acting to appease investors and the general public. While some in the industry may complain of the costs associated with mitigating environmental damage, industry leaders are exploring and embracing new climate-friendly technologies as a necessary pivot to maintain vitality. Dr. Vijay Swarup, Vice President for Research and Development at ExxonMobil, stated, “breakthroughs like the deployment of carbonate fuel cells at power plants are essential for reducing emissions, while at the same time increasing power generation and limiting costs to consumers.”[7] ExxonMobil developed those carbonate fuel cells in partnership with FuelCell Energy, Inc. as a tool for capturing CO2 during the CCS process.

Integrating alternative energy into existing operations has also proved to be a successful survival strategy for oil producers. Chevron announced in July 2020 that it would make a major investment in renewable energy plants to power its oil production facilities in the Permian Basin and abroad.[8] This was by no means the first investment by a major player to test such a production structure. ExxonMobil made a similar investment in 2018, purchasing 500 megawatts of wind and solar power in Texas. And Chevron had already run a pilot program by purchasing a smaller amount of West Texas wind energy to power some of its operations, as well.

At the time of their 2020 purchase, Chevron spokesperson Veronica Flores-Paniagua wrote: "What has changed is the cost of wind and solar power, which is becoming more competitive, and the technology, which has also progressed substantially. This makes opportunities to increase renewable power in support of our operations a feasible option for reliability, scale, and cost-effectiveness."

Ultimately, each producers’ bottom line will determine whether such ventures into renewables are sustainable. But while producers find creative ways to appease shareholders and adapt, any future inhibiting regulatory actions still face significant challenges to be enacted.

Political & Legal Hurdles for Biden Energy Regulations

On January 20, 2021, former Vice President Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States. Some experts predict his administration will bring major regulatory changes for the oil and gas industry to appease his own Democratic party's growing progressive subsection. Others are more hesitant, noting the relatively moderate nature of his cabinet selections and campaign pledges to refrain from banning fracking.[9]

Most onlookers, experts or not, expect some energy-related regulatory changes. Among the most common expected policy shifts is a ban on new fracking on federal lands. This led to a mass fire sale by former President Trump’s Bureau of Land Management, auctioning off parcels of land in various parts of the United States to accelerate drilling before the change in administrations. Producers are gearing up for a fight, both in the courtroom and in the eyes of the public. Mike Sommers, Chief Executive of the American Petroleum Institute (API), told Reuters in November 2020 that API would “use ‘every tool at its disposal’ including legal action” to prevent restrictions by the Biden administration.

Potential regulations and green initiatives could go either way in reaching Biden's desk for a signature. Republicans, who are historically more friendly to the oil and gas industry, hold 50 Senate seats, but with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote, they are formally the minority party. President Biden has already signed an executive order revoking the permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline, a move which many experts in the U.S.’ Permian Basin are optimistic about for those in West Texas as it reduces direct competition to those producers.

Conclusion

While fears on the future of oil and gas have merit and can be validated by recent trends, production will not cease for the foreseeable future. If Biden's administration reflects the values of the Obama administration, things may not be as negative as has been suggested. Within the oil and gas industry, private stakeholders have already spent the better part of a decade learning to adapt and continue production through carbon capture and storage methods. And any future regulations will face difficulties every step of the way, with major players vowing to fight tooth and nail to defend the industry. Investors should proceed with caution, but there is still room for optimism and opportunities for growth and success into the near future.

Sources: 

[1] CNBC 

[2] Forbes 

[3] Reuters 

[4] Investor's Business Daily 

[5] Lexology 

[6] Oilprice.com 

[7] ExxonMobil 

[8] GTM

[9] API

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between Theme Bins (International) Ltd and a Private Investor

Benchmark International is pleased to announce the sale of Gateshead-based Theme Bins to private investor, Patrick Connolly.

Established in 1991, Theme Bins designs, manufactures and supplies benches, litter and recycling bins, storage lockers, and other indoor and outdoor furniture. The company operates from a bespoke manufacturing facility, acting as a supplier and moulding subcontractor, catering to a range of customers across sectors including the commercial, leisure and educational markets.

Patrick Connolly is a private investor engaged in plastics and, along with the acquisition of Theme Bins, recently invested in two other businesses that specialise in different processes within the plastics industry.

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Commenting on the acquisitions, Patrick said: “I want people to phone us if they want things made in plastic because, between the three firms, I’m sure we’ll find a way.

“For example, parts for Theme Bins we can make at our other sites. That helps open up our development opportunities and the speed with which we can respond.”

Following the acquisition, Theme Bins has been renamed Plastic Furniture Co to reflect its vastly expanded product range after diversifying into street and education furniture, including seats, lockers, and bins for PPE equipment. It will also be launching a new website and increasing its focus on ecommerce.

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between Survey Systems Limited and Land Survey Solutions Limited

Benchmark International is pleased to announce the sale of Cheshire-based Survey Systems to Suffolk-based Survey Solutions.

Survey Systems was formed in 1983 and is a geomatic surveying firm producing accurate 2D and 3D digital plans and models for both public and private clients operating in the construction and engineering sectors. Along with sister company Locate Surveys, the company has grown to become one of the largest independent surveying companies in the north west, employing approximately 40 people.

Established for over 20 years, Survey Solutions is the UK’s largest engineering surveyor with a wide geographical reach and a comprehensive range of surveying services. The company provides to sectors ranging from residential new build to retail, energy to education and transport to healthcare.

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As a result of the acquisition, Survey Solutions has broadened its geographical presence, giving the company an unrivalled presence throughout the UK and enabling local teams to respond quickly to project enquiries. Along with acquisition of Kempston Surveys, Survey Solutions’ national reach has now grown to nine offices and the team has grown to around 160 employees.

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between Delta Outsource Group, Inc and Indebted

Benchmark International facilitated the transaction between Delta Outsource Group, Inc and Australian-based InDebted enabling their access into the American market.

The seller, Delta Outsource Group, Inc, has been providing professional and compliant receivables solutions in the U.S. since 2009. The owners of Delta set out to create a collections agency where performance, respect, and communication would put them ahead of the industry’s curve. After accomplishing this, Delta became a viable target.

“While the process was longer than we thought, Benchmark did a good job of advising us of our options and guiding us through the sale process,” said Michael Lages, President & CFO.

 

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The buyer, InDebted, is an Australian-based digital, data-driven collection agency. They have built a collections platform that seeks to empower the financial fitness of their customers.

John Watson, incoming CEO of Delta commented regarding the deal, “After facilitating the introduction of Delta and InDebted and outlining the desired transaction structure, Benchmark did a good job of allowing the principles to work directly with each other to maximize the efficiency of the process.”

Regarding the deal completion, Transaction Director Matthew Kekelis at Benchmark International commented, “The Delta team stuck through a multiple offer situation with many ups and downs along the way. Ultimately, it was a terrific result with both buyer and seller very pleased with the outcome.”

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between Solution Matrix, Inc., EXI Investment Partners and Broadview Group Holdings, LLC

Benchmark International successfully facilitated the transaction between Solution Matrix, Inc. of Rocky Mount, VA and EXI Investment Partners, Broadview Group Holdings, LLC, management and other co-investors. The seller, Solution Matrix, Inc., is an orthopedic manufacturing business that provides high-quality cold-therapy gel packs and compression bandage wraps to over 340 hospitals nationwide. The company manufactures all its products in-house.

Keith Marshall, co-owner of Solution Matrix with his wife, Linda, mentioned regarding the transaction, “We are so excited to entrust the future of Solution Matrix to its next partner. With their leadership, there is no upward limit to where they can take the business. The spirit of partnership abounded during the transaction process and they will be an ideal caretaker of the Solution Matrix brand and legacy.”

Marshall went on to say, “I’d like to thank Benchmark International for their absolute professionalism throughout the entire process. I thought it would be challenging to sell a business with a special designation like mine, a veteran-owned business. I had the impression the pool of available and interested buyers would be small but Benchmark’s resources proved me wrong in that regard. I could not recommend their services more.”

 

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Regarding the deal completion, Managing Partner Dara Shareef at Benchmark International commented, “Having the opportunity to work with a veteran-owned business is always particularly meaningful. Keith and Linda have built Solution Matrix around a mission to provide truly unique products that address critical healthcare needs. Their sense of service to team, partners, and customers comes naturally from a background of service to country and has been a difference-maker in building a great company and an unequalled suite of medical devices. Benchmark International is proud to be a key part of finding Solution Matrix a great partner for their next phase of growth.”

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between SGS Limited and Wescott Industrial Services Ltd

Benchmark International is pleased to announce the sale of specialist scaffolding contractors, SGS, to Wescott Industrial Services.

Established in 1994, SGS is a main supplier of scaffold access and support systems for the large industrial, petrochemical, waste to energy, pharmaceutical and food industries, as well as providing services to domestic and commercial projects.

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The company has a workforce of around 70 directly employed personnel and operates nationwide for clients such as Engie, BAM Construction, Amco Griffen and Gassco Gas Terminal.

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between Carolina Marine Structures, Inc. and United Infrastructure Holdings, Inc.

Benchmark International is pleased to announce the transaction between Carolina Marine Structures, Inc. (“CMS”) and United Infrastructure Holdings, Inc. (UIH).

CMS is a leading provider of commercial waterfront construction services. The company specializes in construction related to boat ramps, bridges, dredging, shoreline restoration, and wetland creation. CMS resides in Powells Point, North Carolina and is centrally located for its preferred service areas of coastal North Carolina and Virginia.

 

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UIH focuses on providing a wide array of infrastructure services across the United States, from marine construction to engineering services. With this transaction, they are positioned for continued expansion nationwide.

Senior Deal Associate Nick Woodyard at Benchmark International commented, “The entire team here is glad to have facilitated the successful transaction between Carolina Marine Structures and United Infrastructure Holdings. It was great getting to a conclusion where both parties were excited to begin the next phase of their new adventure. This deal represents a platform opportunity for UIH to build an enterprise of future growth in the industry. We wish the teams continued success.”

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between Don O’Malley & Partners Ltd and The Randridge Group

Benchmark International is pleased to announce the sale of Limerick-based Don O’Malley & Partners to The Randridge Group.

Don O'Malley & Partners was established in 1967 and is a leading registered consulting engineering practice specialising in mechanical and electrical building services. The company is based in Limerick city and has gained a reputation for high quality design and service in the construction industry. The company’s project portfolio includes work on commercial, industrial, office, residential, education, healthcare, retail, public buildings, culture & heritage buildings, hospitality, and sports & leisure projects.

Liam Kavanagh of Don O’Malley commented: “Don O’Malley & Partners Ltd engaged the services of Benchmark International to test the market for potential buyers for the company. From the outset of our dealings with Benchmark, we found them to be highly professional, extremely knowledgeable and always acted in our best interests. We felt particularly comforted in using their service because of the high level of interest and support from senior management within their organisation. It was not long before Benchmark began presenting potential buyers to us for consideration eventually resulting in the acquisition by our business by Randridge International.”

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Randridge is the leading-edge supplier of electrical, instrumentation and automation services to the energy, petrochemical and heavy industries across Europe, Africa and the Caspian regions. Renowned for delivering excellent quality construction, the company now has an opportunity to expand its service offering to include quality engineering services.

This acquisition enhances further the proposition that Randridge can make to prospective clients and brings the company one step closer to achieving its main objective of providing a complete turnkey solution.

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between Solar Graphics (UK) and Think Signs

Benchmark International has successfully facilitated the transaction between Solar Graphics and Think Signs.

Solar Graphics is an established provider of a comprehensive range of signage and wayfinding solutions. Esteemed for delivering a one-stop service, the company offers the design, manufacture, and installation of products, in addition to an assortment of road marking services. Operating across the South East of England, the company serves a diverse client base and caters to a variety of requirements, including signage for workplace and commercial properties, as well as health and safety signs.

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Think Signs has been specialising in the design, manufacture and installation of bespoke signage across Dorset, Poole and Bournemouth for over 20 years, offering a broad range of print solutions and services using the latest technologies and state of the art UV flatbed printers and cutting machines.

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Five Signs You May Need a CEO to Run Your Company

While many founders tend to be their own CEOs, sometimes you do need a little help. If you hire too soon, you waste valuable resources, but if you hire too late, you could be missing vital opportunities to grow. Choosing when to hire a CEO is a tough decision, so if you notice any of the following signs, now may be the right time to hire a small business CEO.

1. Need for More Expertise: As a business owner or founder, you started the business and transitioned it from the planning stage to successful operations. Completing this feat does not always mean that you have strong business expertise. Many times, it means that you have strong experience exclusively in your particular offering. Hiring a CEO with business experience can help your company develop new ideas, execute decisions, and formulate new strategies that will work to drive your bottom line. In some instances, people outside the company will view your business more professionally when a CEO with a background in the industry takes the reigns.

2. Not Your Passion: Even if you possess the ability to run your company, that may not be where your passions lie. If you want to focus on areas of the company, such as client relationships or product development, it may be time for you to hire a CEO. They can handle the business aspects such as operations, marketing, or production, and you can keep your focus on the interests that you enjoy and where you benefit the most for your business.


3. Clarity of Vision: If you observe that your employees seem unclear about the company's operations and goals, it is possible that they would benefit significantly from fresh leadership. A new CEO will serve as the leader for your company, make known company-wide goals, and implement your visions as the owner. This will give your company a united voice through a seasoned executive who has the experience to retain and attract a management team that will contribute to your path of long-term success. Also, a founders’ loyalty to original employees can limit potential. A CEO will evaluate performance and make tough personnel decisions for you that will drive growth.

 

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4. Stagnation: Say you want to expand your business but find that you have to focus too heavily on keeping the company up and running. When there isn't enough time for innovation, this can lead to inactivity and cause your company to stagnate, creating severe problems down the road. A small business CEO allows you to count on them to map out growth strategies and coordinate the vital action needed to help your business scale.

5. Overwhelm: Maybe you start to notice that you get things done, but you are overworking your people. Founders and CEOs are certainly not strangers to hard work. Your dedication to your craft and commitment to the growth of the company are second to none. However, when the same person performs these roles, that person can quickly become overwhelmed and, as a result, pass unnecessary pressure onto the employees. If you realize that you are relying too heavily on your team members to help keep your head above water, it may be an excellent time to hire a CEO. It's important to keep in mind that there is only so much cleaning up after others your team will be willing to do. Low employee morale can sink a company's productivity and lead to long-term problems.


Once you have decided that you are ready to find a CEO, many organizations specialize in locating and screening the perfect candidate for you. For help in your recruitment process, consider hiring an executive search firm, networking with your professional connections, creating a CEO search committee, and making sure to plan ahead. Applicant Tracking Systems such as Greenhouse, JazzHR, Breezy HR, or Google Hire can help your recruitment process. Finally, be sure to have all of the essential materials on hand to onboard your CEO candidate. Think about including your story, your primary values, and your mission to ensure vision alignment.

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between Moorland Fuels Limited and Craggs Energy Group Limited

Benchmark International has successfully facilitated the transaction between Moorland Fuels Limited (“Moorland Fuels”) and Craggs Energy Group Limited (“Craggs Energy”).

Devon-based Moorland Fuels is a distributor of fuels including kerosene and diesel. The company serves domestic, commercial, and agricultural customers within a 30-mile radius of its strategically located rural depot.

Craggs Energy supplies kerosene, gas oil, DERV and a wide range of industrial fuels and lubricants to homes, farms, businesses, and public sector customers throughout the UK via its delivery depots spread across the North West and Yorkshire, as well as its national partner network.

The acquisition allows Moorland Fuels to benefit from a shared vision, growth and further investment, whilst enabling Craggs Energy to grow in the South West.

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Abby Turner, sales and marketing manager at Moorland Fuels, commented: “Being part of the Craggs Energy Group enables Moorland Fuels to expand our operations. We are already benefiting from significant investment from the Craggs team and are looking forward to the new opportunities ahead while continuing to provide the excellent service that Moorland Fuels is known for.”

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How To Announce An Acquisition

When a company is sold, it can have major effects on employees, customers, clients, and suppliers. Uncertainty stokes fear in most people, as they wonder about their security and their futures. Even top management can feel as though they failed at their jobs when the company is being bought out. For these reasons, it is important that the messaging and transition planning is handled very carefully and thoughtfully leading up to an acquisition—especially considering that the majority of acquisitions fall through. Announcing the news too early can cause widespread unrest over a deal that never happens

Communication is everything in this situation, but it needs to be planned. Before announcing a single word about the sale of the company, you should have a solid plan in place. A consistent message is critical and the distribution of the information should be carefully coordinated both internally and externally to avoid misinformation and confusion. Your plan should clearly outline intentions, steps, timelines and how the process will affect all parties. Predetermine what will be conveyed by whom and when. Figure out how to address questions that you are unable to answer and consider all potential scenarios for all parties involved. And always remember how critical confidentiality is during this time. You do not want details leaking to the press before you are ready to go public.  

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between Watterson Financial Planning and Connectus Wealth Advisers

Benchmark International is pleased to announce the sale of Knutsford-based financial planning firm, Watterson Financial Planning, by Focus Financial Planning (Focus) subsidiary, Connectus Wealth Advisers (Connectus).

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Helping Employees Find Meaning at Work

Many business owners know that employees are a company’s greatest asset. Yet, they are also a potential liability. According to CNBC, more than 3.5 million Americans quit their jobs every month. The current unemployment rate sits at 6.7%. It rose to 14.8% in April, but prior to the pandemic, it was 3.5%, which was a strong job market. So, if employees are so critical to a company’s operations, how can organizations mitigate the risk of them leaving, especially immediately before or after an M&A transaction? During such a transaction, a business may find itself at a disadvantage when trying to keep valuable workers in a strong job market and during the uneasiness of a transaction. Workers may feel under appreciated, underpaid, or that they lack opportunities for advancement during this period. Looking from the outside in, a culture like this can cripple the attraction of buyers or a successful integration.

In most cases, this can be averted. But how? Paying employees more? Giving out monthly awards or irrelevant promotions? In short, giving employees true meaning day-in and day-out can be a complex task but it’s a key differentiator in a company being a place where employees want to grow their careers, versus being a resume builder. Having a personal sense of who your employees are and what motivates them can often mean more to them than any compensation, and set the company up for a successful integration. The tricky part is identifying those things in which your employees find happiness, purpose and true meaning. Tackling the following key questions will improve your M&A transaction experience, increase employee retention, and help employees find greater happiness within the workplace.

What are your employees good at completing?

Performance reviews were implemented back in the 1800s and haven’t changed much since. Albert Einstein once said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Employers have been evaluating workers on a yearly basis and adjusting the company’s workforce according to their findings for many years. When evaluating employees, it’s important to include a detailed skills assessment. Investing the time to understand each employee’s specific skills and value to the organization gives the company an advantage for future success by optimizing its workforce. In terms of M&A preparation, skills gaps can be proactively addressed so buyers don’t perceive risk and discount their offers; and, unique skill differentiators can be leveraged to improve competitive position and business valuations.

 

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In addition to finding an employee’s niche set of skills, it’s imperative to also challenge employees on an array of different topics. Challenging employees helps to develop their skillset further, leverage their untapped potential, and optimize their performance. Small adjustments like these can help a company not only retain valuable workers for years to come, but also convey the impression of a strong group of employees for prospective buyers within an M&A transaction.

When do your employees feel most accomplished?

A sense of accomplishment is a cornerstone of any successful job. As a manager or business owner, it’s critical to recognize the drivers of employees’ satisfaction in their jobs, or “delighters,” and promote them. Is it when they’ve closed a new deal, completed service for a difficult client, or finished a task that they’ve been working on for weeks? Understanding the accomplishments that truly make employees happy isn’t that hard. Promoting and acknowledging these things makes employees feel that their work is valued.

One way to identify these “delighters” is for managers to adjust their interactions with employees. For example, having purposeful daily conversations, building relationships, and showing genuine interest in each employee’s current projects. This can also help the workforce better understand their role in the organization’s operations and success.

A Harvard Grant Study found that happiness and even financial success are tied to the warmth of one’s relationships, especially in the workplace. The study’s chief architect famously concluded, “Happiness is love. Full stop.” Working on partnerships with employees can improve purpose within their careers and the organization. Enhancing relationships with employees can help the organization get through tough times and cruise through outstanding times. In addition, having a great working relationship with employees can help ward off negative energy during the demanding process of an M&A transaction. It is important to make time for employees, engage with them, listen to them, and build relationships needed to enhance workplace happiness, improve employee longevity, and sail through the grind of an M&A transaction.

What have your employees learned lately?

Intellectual curiosity is something we all have within ourselves that can help an employee excel in any job. Being able to ask questions, learn from others, and make tasks more efficient can help employees find constant meaning at work. As a business owner, one of the challenges is getting the right curiosity out of employees. Implementing “end of the week discussions” as a group is one way to tap into intellectual curiosity. In addition, putting in place nontraditional learning environments can give employees the opportunity to learn hands-on versus behind a desk. Experiences like these can help improve the longevity of an employee’s career, along with advancing their understanding and ability to retain information. Having a workforce that is intellectually curious can be a considerable selling point during a transaction that buyers are delighted to buy into.

To summarize, multi-billion-dollar corporations and smaller boutique firms alike must mitigate the risk of losing valuable workers. Figuring out ways to make employees excited when they walk through the company’s doors is key to an organization’s success. Implementing small changes as described here can help an organization retain its top tier talent and ensure a smooth transaction. Modest adjustments such as regularly interacting with employees, investing time to understand each employee’s individual skillset, and creating an open environment that engages curiosity, will help make them happier, optimize performance, and ensure that they will continue to support the success of the organization. Acquirers treasure the ability of having a stable team on board during a transition and, as a seller, this can make all the difference in having a successful sale.  

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between Facit Testing Limited and Phenna Group

Benchmark International is pleased to announce the sale of Norwich-based Facit Testing (Facit) to Nottingham-based Phenna Group (Phenna).

Facit was established in 1979 and has over recent years built a reputation as one of the most trusted specialist electrical services companies in East Anglia. Today, the business offers an extensive range of electrical testing solutions to clients across the domestic, commercial, industrial and public sectors.

Established in 2018, Phenna provides investment and strategic leadership to companies in the testing, inspection, certification, and compliance (TICC) sector. Its aim is to build a global portfolio of independent TICC businesses.

Brian Impleton, Managing Director of Facit, commented: "I am hugely excited to be joining the Phenna Group and look forward to working with Paul and his team to drive the future growth of the company. Since deciding to seek a partner, it was obvious from the first meeting with Phenna Group that they shared our vision for the business. They have remained professional and easy to deal with throughout the process and I look forward to developing our relationship and expanding the business over the next few years.”

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Paul Barry, Group CEO of Phenna Group, said: "I am delighted that Brian and his team will be joining Phenna Group. From the very first time I met Brian, I was positively impressed by his energy, drive and passion for the business, which resonated well with the culture and values of Phenna Group. Facit Testing fits closely with our strategy of creating a differentiated group of niche TICC businesses and I'm looking forward to working with Brian to help deliver their very ambitious growth plans.”

This acquisition is Phenna’s second in the electrical testing and inspection sector. The first was the acquisition of GMES, an acquisition also conducted via Benchmark International.

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Why You Should Consider Private Equity

How Private Equity Works

Private equity firms raise financing from institutions and individuals and then invest those funds into the buying and selling of businesses. Once a pre-specified amount is raised, the fund closes to new investors and is liquidated. All of the fund’s businesses are sold within a set timeframe that is typically less than ten years. The more successfully a PE firm’s funds perform, the better its ability to raise money in the future.

PE firms do accept some limitations on their use of investments under fund management contracts, such as the size of any single business investment. Once the money has been committed, investors have nearly zero control over its management, unlike a public company’s board of directors. 

The leaders of the companies within a private equity portfolio are not members of the PE firm’s management. Private equity firms control its portfolio companies through representation on the boards of those companies. It is common for a PE firm to ask the CEO and other business leaders in their portfolios to invest personally. This offers a way to ensure their level of commitment and motivation. In return, the operating managers can get significant rewards that are linked to profits when the company is sold.

With large buyouts, PE funds usually charge investors a fee of around 1.5 to 2 percent of assets under management, plus 20 percent of all profits (subject to achieving a minimum rate of return). Fund mostly profit through capital gains on the sale of portfolio companies.

How Private Equity Improves Value

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between Woodall Group and BGF

Benchmark International is pleased to announce that Derbyshire-based Woodall Group has secured a £4.25m investment from BGF.

Woodall Group, the owner of Woodall Homes, is an independent housebuilder, specialising in mid-market homes and providing a turnkey service from identifying brownfield sites, securing purchase options, and applying for planning permission, through to construction and fit-out.

BGF is the most active growth investor in the world, providing growth capital for small and medium-sized enterprises in the United Kingdom and Ireland, making initial investments between £1m and £15m. It has 16 offices across the UK and Ireland including London, Edinburgh, Belfast, and Dublin.

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Known for its strong emphasis on premium finishes, build quality and a housing design that complements local surroundings, with sustainability embedded in the construction process, the funding will support Woodall Group deliver more high-quality properties and create further job opportunities.

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Gamestop, Robinhood, And Drama On Wall Street

The free online trading app known as Robinhood has proclaimed to be “on a mission to democratize finance for all.” It was intended to open up the Wall Street stock market to the average American for investment “on their own terms,” with more easily digestible financial information readily available to novice investors. The app was designed to “let the people trade” and make the financial system more accessible for everyone, until things took quite a turn, all due to a fledgling brick and mortar video game retailer known as GameStop.

The amateur traders using Robinhood became pitted against the hedge fund honchos when they started buying up options and shares of GameStop (GME), enlarging those bets and also making large trades of other stocks, such as AMC Entertainment, Tootsie Roll, and BlackBerry.

How It All Happened

Professional hedge fund investors had been short selling shares of GameStop, essentially borrowing shares of stock to sell, and then buying them back later so they can return them. This lets them profit if the stock price drops (betting that the company will fail). If the stock does not continue to fall, investors are forced to cover their position or buy more stock to minimize their losses.

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