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Birmingham Post
Birmingham Post
Coreena Ford

North East deals of the week: key investments, contracts and acquisitions

Storage container and portable accommodation specialist Mobile Mini was sold in a £335m deal to a modular buildings specialist.

It follows a decision by Mobile Mini UK's US parent WillScot Mobile Mini Holdings to concentrate its efforts on its native North American market. Buyer Modulaire Group, which provides a range of services and infrastructure, says the move will strengthen its UK presence, bringing on board the Stockton-based firm's 16 branches and 375 staff.

The acquisition is subject to UK regulatory approval and the proceeds will fund US group's operations. The deal is expected to complete in early 2023. Brad Soultz, chief executive officer of WillScot Mobile Mini Holdings, said: "Thank you to the Mobile Mini UK team for their dedication to WillScot Mobile Mini Holdings. This transaction and the previously completed divestiture of the Tank & Pump segment will complete the transition of our portfolio into a pure play provider of modular space and storage solutions in North America, where our industry-leading platform enjoys unparalleled scale benefits and allows us to deliver greater value to our customers and shareholders."

Read more: North East entrepreneur named among most inspirational businesswomen

Dr Emma Black of Cascade Cash Management with Jane Siddle of NEL Fund Managers (NEL Fund Managers)

A North East cash management firm set up by the founders of start-up bank GB Bank has secured a six-figure deal to fuel the next stage of its development.

Cascade Cash Management is the UK’s first cloud-based savings platform and provides savers with direct access to all accounts and all providers on the market. The Wallsend company’s savings service generates enhanced cash returns and protection through professional cash management.

It has already managed more than £1bn of customer assets, with over £200m currently under its administration, and has a network of over 3,500 financial advisers across the UK that are using its platform. Now Cascade – founded in 2015 by Dr Emma Black and her brother and business partner Stephen – has worked with regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers to bring in the £150,000 North East Growth Capital Fund investment.

It will use the funds to invest in the technologies which support its platform. New jobs in sales, finance and administration are also expected to be created next year. Dr Black said: “We built the platform ourselves and have proved over several years that it delivers on the promises that we make to our clients, so now want to invest more in developing the technologies that underpin it and further enhance the breadth and effectiveness of the services we offer. NEL’s investment offering was a really good fit with our requirements and the team helped to make securing this growth capital a pretty straightforward process.”

Left to right: Fairstone CEO Lee Hartley, Sabre Financial principals Stuart Read and Dale Came (Fairstone)

South Tyneside wealth manager Fairstone has snapped up a Devon business two years after it initially partnered with the firm.

Boldon-based Fairstone has added more than £200m funds under management to the group through the acquisition of Sabre Financial, which also expands its geographical footprint and takes total group funds to more than £13bn.

Principals Stuart Read and Dale Came decided to join Fairstone after looking to partner with a well-established national chartered firm that could help them grow. The Kingsbridge-based business joined Fairstone’s Downstream Buy Out (DBO) acquisition model in September 2020, using Fairstone’s support services to grow during their integration process, which resulted in an 18% increase in revenue and a 6% increase in client numbers.

The firm will receive ongoing support to grow further and unlock more opportunities. Sabre Financial, launched in 1997 to specialise in pensions and investments, has nine advisers and staff and more than 800 clients.

A worker at Pragmatic Semiconductor's existing NETPark facility. (Supplied by Brands 2 Life PR)

Innovative chip maker Pragmatic Semiconductor landed £28.2m ($35m) funding from a range of institutional investors.

The manufacturer has plans to build a multimillion-pound factory on the site of the former Wavin Pipeworks in County Durham, bringing 125 jobs to the area. And this latest investment has broken its Series C funding round target by more than half, totalling £100.8m ($125m).

Pragmatic, which already operates a Sedgefield NETPark facility and has expanded its Cambridge base, says the money will be used to accelerate the plans which involve the redevelopment of the site to include a 175,000 sqft factory where it will make its flexible integrated circuits that are intended to replace mainstream silicon chips.

The company has previously talked of cultivating a cluster of innovative firms at the 15-acre site, where it will launch its second production line, known as a "fab". The move will increase Pragmatic's production capacity by more than five times.

From left: Ben Johnson Ltd's Emma Dodsley, Matthew Day and Lee Fleming. (Supplied by Lauren Archer)

An interiors firm with bases in Newcastle and York has been acquired by three of its senior leadership team in a management buyout.

Ben Johnson Ltd, which works with firms to design and fit out office spaces, operates across the North East and Yorkshire from its own offices at Hoults Yard in Newcastle and Middlethorpe Business Park near York. Emma Dodsley, Lee Fleming and Matthew Day have become equal shareholders in the company following a deal for an undisclosed sum.

The trio will continue their respective roles in sales and marketing, finance and operations and delivery. The firm has said the deal is part of a planned succession strategy which also included the sale of Ben Johnson's Technology Managed Print Services business in 2018, and its Workplace Supplies business in 2019.

Exiting owner Adrian Rumble, who has been managing director of Ben Johnson Ltd since 2003, said: "I am so proud of my exceptional, forward-thinking management team who have completed this MBO of Ben Johnson Ltd. I am confident that the company will continue to grow and be highly successful under their innovative leadership. This is a positive succession step for the company that maintains the significant provenance of Ben Johnson Ltd as a progressive brand."

BelleVie Care intends to scale up its home care model with £2.1m of funding. (Philippa James Photography)

Care provider BelleVie is looking to scale up following £2.1m of funding secured from a range of investors.

The start-up, which has bases in Northumberland and Oxford, says it will expand its operations further into Tyne and Wear thanks to the injection, which comes in a package of seed and grant funding. A £1.6m seed funding round was led by Skagen Conscience Capital and featuring the North East Innovation Fund, supported by the European Regional Development Fund and managed by Northstar Ventures, The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, and Treebeard Trust.

The move has also unlocked £500,000 grant funding from UKRI's Healthy Ageing Challenge managed by Innovate UK and brings the total BelleVie has raised since its incorporation in 2019 to £3.4m. BelleVie provides a range of services including companionship, housework and specialist care for people living with dementia, Parkinson's disease and cancer.

The business says it is inspired by the Buurtzorg model - meaning "neighbourhood care" in Dutch - which centres around a person with care needs and balances informal support networks with a dedicated team and other professional tools. BelleVie's subscription-funded, 10-strong teams of wellbeing support workers are said to be afforded more time to provide care to their clients.

Greg Madison, CEO of Shield Therapeutics (Shield Therapeutics)

Gateshead drug manufacturer Shield Therapeutics has raised £15.1m (18.5m) via an oversubscribed share placing and subscription, just hours after announcing the move.

Having revealed its intention to raise £14. 7m from the London Stock Exchange on Tuesday morning, by late afternoon the firm confirmed it had surpassed the target. A total of 182,939,917 new ordinary shares of were placed and major shareholder AOP Health International Management AG along with a handful of Shield directors and some employees subscribed for a total of 68,555,461 shares at the issue price of 6p - a discount of 11.1% on the price at the close of the market on Monday.

In tandem, an open offer to existing shareholders aims to raise £3.9m and may also see a further 64,346,927 new ordinary shares issued. And Shield said it had extended its convertible debt facility with AOP Health International Management AG by $10m.

The moves came as Shield also detailed a major partnership agreement intended to build its US market share. It has joined forces with US pharmaceuticals firm Viatris to tackle the American market with its iron deficiency products. The North East firm estimates it can sell $150m of its Accrufer capsules to the US by the end of 2025.


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