Iconic UK sports car manufacturer acquired by European investment firm

BY Fraser Tennant

One of the most iconic names in the automotive world, Morgan Motor Company has been acquired by Italian investment firm Investindustrial – which has taken a majority stake in the 110-year old British sports car manufacturer.

The financial terms of the transaction have not been disclosed. However, the investment is being executed without financial debt and Morgan will have a positive net cash position upon closing of the transaction.

Founded in 1909, Morgan hand-builds premium sports cars with a classic design in its historic factory in Malvern, UK, which is visited by more than 30,000 people each year. With revenues of £33.8m and a net profit of £3.2m in 2018, the company sells around 700 cars per year. It is also one of the last remaining British-owned carmakers.

“The past two years have been the most successful in our company’s history,” said Dominic Riley, chairman of Morgan. “However, to really fulfil our full potential and secure our long-term future, both the family and management team felt it was essential to bring in a strategic partner – a partner that shares our vision and has the expertise, financial resources and track record of success in the automotive world, to make it happen. That partner is Investindustrial.”

Following completion of the acquisition, the Morgan family will continue to act as stewards for the brand and retain a minority shareholding. And, for the first time in its history, the management team and all employees will have a share of the business.

“Morgan’s handmade British sports cars are true icons of the industry,” said Andrea C. Bonomi, Investindustrial’s chairman of the industrial advisory board. “We have followed the company and seen its progress for some time and see significant potential for Morgan to develop internationally while retaining its hand-built heritage. We share with the Morgan family the belief that British engineering and brands are unique and have an important place in the world.”

The transaction is expected to be completed in April 2019.

Steve Morris, chief executive of Morgan, concluded: “The future is bright for Morgan. We are coming off the back of two record years and now have the best possible owner and partner to take the business to the next level and develop Morgan’s global potential.”

News: Morgan family sells control to venture capitalist group

UK FinTech investment reaches record levels

BY Richard Summerfield

2018 was a record year for the FinTech industry, according to Innovate Finance’s ‘2018 FinTech VC Investment Landscape’ report. Last year saw $36.6bn of venture capital (VC) invested in the sector across 2304 deals – a 148 percent increase from 2017 and a 329 percent increase over five years.  

VC and private equity (PE) investment in the UK’s FinTech sector reached record levels in 2018, up 18 percent year-on-year to $3.3bn. PE investment rose 57 percent to $1.6bn, while venture capital dipped to $1.7bn, ahead of its peers in Europe.

VC investment into FinTech in both China and the US overshadowed and outpaced all other global regions, however. Of the top 15 deals in 2018, over half occurred in the US and a third in China. Combined, China and the US accounted for 80 percent of the world’s 15 largest deals.

China led the way, with $18.9bn invested across 90 deals. The US was the most dynamic and mature market, with $10.6bn invested across 1042 deals, a 52 percent increase in capital invested year-on-year. The UK’s FinTech sector ranked third. Within Europe, the UK continued to dominate, though Germany in second place on the continent saw $716m invested across 48 deals, with third placed Switzerland attracting $328m invested across 40 deals.

“It is very encouraging to see that investment continues to grow in the UK FinTech sector, reaffirming its position as a leading global financial and technology centre,” said Charlotte Crosswell, chief executive of Innovate Finance. “The UK has a unique position across financial services, technological innovation, regulators and government which all play a crucial role in this impressive growth journey. However, we should not be complacent as new challenges lie ahead; we must focus on growing our talent and capital pipeline across the UK, to ensure sustainable and inclusive growth in the future.”

2018 was also a notable year for a number of challengers and banking platforms, including Revolut, Monzo and SolarisBank, among others, which raised record amounts of capital.

Report: 2018 FinTech VC Investment Landscape Report

Network Rail agrees to sell the arches in £1.5bn deal

BY Fraser Tennant

In a £1.5bn deal that will help fund railway upgrade plans, bring major improvements for passengers and reduce funding burden on taxpayers, Network Rail has agreed to sell its commercial estate portfolio to property company Telereal Trillium and investment firm Blackstone Property Partners.

Upon completion of the transaction, Telereal and Blackstone will hold equal ownership stakes and intend to be long-term owners of the estate. Both parties have adopted a ‘tenants first’ approach, cemented in a tenants’ charter, which offers a commitment to engage with all tenants and communities in an open and honest manner.

Network Rail launched the sale of its commercial estate in November 2017. The portfolio consists of approximately 5200 properties, the majority of which are converted railway arches. The sites are being sold on a leasehold basis, with Network Rail retaining access rights for the future operation of the railway.

Proceeds from the sale will help fund the railway upgrade plan, which is bringing 170,000 seats into major cities, 6400 extra train services and 5500 new train carriages – a 30 percent increase in capacity.

“This deal is great news,” said Sir Peter Hendy, chairman of Network Rail. “For tenants it will mean significant commitment and investment, and for passengers and taxpayers it will mean massive, essential improvements without an extra burden on the public purse.”

Both Telereal and Blackstone have long and successful track records of operating large commercial estates across the UK. Telereal will oversee the day-to-day property management of the portfolio.

“The arches portfolio is a unique and vital part of the UK economy,” said Graham Edwards, co-founder and chairman of Telereal. “We are tremendously excited by the prospect of working with its entrepreneurial tenant base.”

James Seppala, head of European Real Estate at Blackstone, added: “The portfolio is unique in the role that it plays in stimulating economic activity, growth and prosperity, in particular among SMEs and local communities.”

Mr Hendy concluded: “This has been a very thorough, detailed and complex process and we are pleased we are now in a position to announce Telereal Trillium and Blackstone Property Partners as the new owners of the commercial estate.”

News: Network Rail sells $2 billion property portfolio to fund railway improvements

UK attractiveness falls as Brexit fears begin to bite

BY Richard Summerfield

The UK remains the number one destination for foreign direct investment (FDI) in Europe, according to EY’s latest UK Attractiveness Survey. However, there was a notable decline in sentiment from foreign investors toward the UK as a place to invest in the future, which has allowed Germany and France in particular to gain ground.

The UK’s economy is in a state of transition, according to EY, with Brexit and ongoing technological changes impacting investments across sectors, as well as project types and sizes. In 2017, the UK attracted 6 percent more FDI projects compared with 2016, with the number of projects rising to 1205 from 1138. There was also a 6 percent boost in the number of FDI-related jobs created, to 50,196.

However, the UK’s traditional FDI targeted sectors, financial services and business services, recorded significant declines last years. Projects in the financial services space fell by 26 percent, despite the sector recording growth across Europe – the total number across the EU rose by 13 percent. The business services sector saw a decline of 10 percent as the European market recorded growth.  Last year also saw the UK fall to second place behind Germany in attracting business services projects, as UK projects from this sector fell and Germany’s increased.

EY also noted a “marked increase” in UK outbound investment in 2017, with the trend particularly evident in the financial and business services sectors. The total number of outbound investments was 464, up 35 percent on the previous year’s total of 343; 110 of those investments went to Germany, and 79 to France. Business services outbound projects rose from 117 to 125, up 7 percent.

“It’s quite a pick up,” said Mark Gregory, EY’s chief economist, referring to the outbound investment project figures. “If it hadn’t been for the surge of digital, then the overall numbers would look pretty ugly. Lots of these digital projects are quite small. Our core is flat or shrinking.”

For the first time since EY began reporting on investment attractiveness, London is no longer the most attractive city for FDI in Europe. That honour goes to Paris, thanks to the burgeoning impact of Brexit and the so-called ‘Macron effect’.

Report: UK Attractiveness Survey

US VC investment exceeds $84bn in 2017 following strong Q4, highlights new report

BY Fraser Tennant

Building off the “optimism and momentum” that has returned to the US and global markets in recent months, venture capital (VC) investment in the US rose to almost $24bn in Q4 2017, according to data published this week by KPMG.

In its ‘Venture Pulse Q4 2017: Global analysis of venture funding’ report, KPMG states that the level of VC invested in Q4 ($23.75bn) – up from $21.24bn in Q3 2017 – helped to make 2017 the strongest year of VC investment since the dotcom bubble.  

The strong VC investment in Q4 2017 was aided by the $1bn-plus funding rounds of three US-based companies: ride-hailing company Lyft ($1.5bn), cancer-screening biotech Grail Technology ($1.2b) and the automotive company Faraday Future ($1bn). 

“In 2018, we expect VC activity in the US to build off the optimism and momentum that has returned to the US and global markets,” said Brian Hughes, national co-lead partner, KPMG LLP’s Venture Capital Practice in the US “This should also be helped by stronger exit markets in both IPO’s and M&A activity for VC-backed companies.”

The report also notes that deal volume declined in Q4 2017 – down from 1997 in Q3 2017 to 1778 deals in Q4 2017 – as investors focused on placing bigger bets on a smaller number of companies that they believed had a stronger path to profitability.

In addition to the three $1bn-plus funding rounds, the US also saw numerous $100m-plus rounds, with the top 10 deals accounting for more than one quarter of the total investment during the quarter.

In terms of sectors and industries, VC and corporate investor interest in healthtech and biotech grew significantly in 2017, with a number of large deals completed in Q4 2017. Healthcare companies also topped the charts in terms of exits, which helped boost overall activity.

“While there is no indication that we will return to the level of IPO activity we saw in 2015, there is a likelihood that 2018 will see an increased number of IPOs,” said Conor Moore, national co-lead partner, KPMG Venture Capital practice in the US. “However, the secondary market is poised to see even greater growth as many companies choose to remain private for longer.”

As far as global VC investment is concerned, a strong Q4 2017 across the Americas, Asia and Europe helped propel the global VC market to a record level of annual investment for 2017 of $155bn.

Report: Venture Pulse Q4 2017’ – Global analysis of venture funding

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