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Clifton Asset Management plans series of targeted acquisitions

Clifton Asset Management has acquired Plan For Life Wealth Management for an undisclosed fee. The deal is the first in a series of “targeted acquisitions” planned by the company to create a network of small financial advisory businesses.

The firm said its business model aims to “disrupt the established advisory firm acquisition model by creating targeted, geographic centres of excellence”.

These regional centres will be run by Clifton Asset Management through its subsidiary Clifton Wealth Partnership.

Each regional centre will enable smaller firms in the area to compete better with larger rivals by providing access to back office services, technology and products under the Clifton umbrella.

Clifton said IFA firms will be able to join the centres either through acquisition or via appointed representative (AR) status.

Targeted Acquisitions

Clifton Asset Management group financial planning director, Anthony Carty, said of the first acquisition: “Plan For Life is a great business which has been running since 2011 in a region not known as a ‘hub’ for financial services.

“We aim to build on the excellent work that Plan For Life has delivered thus far, with a package of services to enhance the customer journey still further.

“These services include our own low-cost investment platform, in-house DFM model portfolios and highly-interactive client portal.

“We have spent years developing our capability, both with resources and technically. We believe we have a model which will appeal to advisers who simply want to concentrate on providing the best outcomes for their clients.

“This is the first in a series of targeted acquisitions.”

If you would like to find out more information about Clifton Asset Management, please visit https://www.clifton-asset.co.uk/

JLL expands logistics advisory business with Vincia acquisition

Real estate services firm JLL has expanded its supply chain and logistics advisory platform with the acquisition of Vincia in France.

JLL acquired the French supply chain consulting business for an undisclosed sum and said the deal supports JLL’s plans to expand its industrial and logistics business and strengthen its supply chain platform by investing in markets across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

The deal will expand JLL’s supply chain and logistics platform which currently provides services to landlords, occupiers and developers with more than 250 dedicated experts across 18 locations in EMEA.

Established 20 years ago, Vincia specialises in helping clients in the manufacturing and distribution services sectors to enhance their performance in the areas of service, cost and quality.

The acquisition of Vincia strengthens JLL’s capabilities in the sector which follows the acquisition of logistics and supply chain firm GCL Europe in 2014.

Charles Boudet, managing director, JLL France, said: “At a time of changing purchasing behaviour and the widespread introduction of omni-channel services, the logistics and supply chain market presents new opportunities for our clients.

“This acquisition strengthens our expertise in the sector and is key to enhancing our ambitions to grow our supply chain and logistics operations in France and beyond.”

Laurent Vallas, regional director and industrial and logistics assets sponsor, JLL France, said: “The acquisition of Vincia enables us to respond to the growing market demand for supply chain consulting services.

“It is an expansion of our capabilities in the sector which follows our acquisition of GCL Europe in 2014.”

Fabrice Mattei and Pascal Querro, co-founders of Vincia, said: “We have worked with JLL for a number of years on key projects.

“These shared experiences have always delivered great value to our clients and have proven that we share the same principles and culture of excellence.”

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BSI announces acquisition of US firm AppSec Consulting

BSI, a business improvement company, today announced the acquisition of AppSec Consulting – a cybersecurity and information resilience (CSIR) company – located in San Jose, California. This will see AppSec Consulting become a part of BSI’s CSIR offering and will operate under the name “AppSec Consulting – a BSI Professional Services Company”.

The acquisition of AppSec Consulting further strengthens BSI’s CSIR services in the United States – one of the company’s key markets.

Established 14 years ago, AppSec Consulting focuses on the US cybersecurity sector, servicing a wide range of clients across the country. The business was initially focused on web application security, penetration testing, and developer training and has since successfully diversified into providing strategic cybersecurity, data privacy, and a range of governance, risk and compliance advisory services.

Howard Kerr, Chief Executive at BSI, said: “This acquisition is reflective of our key strategic aim to expand our cybersecurity and information resilience offering, building a centre of excellence for organizations globally. AppSec Consulting is one of the most professional companies to emerge in the last 20 years. Their services perfectly complement those offered by the BSI Cybersecurity and Information Resilience teams in the UK and Ireland, which together with their reputation for excellence in client service, makes this a perfect match.”

Brian Bertacini, President at AppSec Consulting, commented: “Merging with BSI is the natural next step for AppSec Consulting, providing huge opportunity for both our clients and employees alike. We are delighted to benefit from BSI’s global reach and broader range of services, which – when combined with our proven cybersecurity expertise – will allow us to further expand and flourish.”

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Allianz Group acquires Nigerian insurer

International insurer Allianz Group has expanded its presence in Nigeria after completing a merger with Nigerian insurer Ensure Insurance, which will now trade as Ensure – a company of Allianz.

The deal, announced last year, was completed on 18 July, with the Munich-headquartered insurer acquiring 99.03% of the shares in Lagos-headquartered Ensure from London-based insurance investor Greenoaks Global Holdings.

Ensure provides retail, reinsurance and corporate insurance and generates EUR 18.2 billion in premiums last year.

Regional chief executive of Allianz Africa Coenraad Vrolijk said in a statement: “We are pleased to enter this fast-growing market through the acquisition of a solid financial player with strong local expertise. This new step of development will allow us to leverage the strength of the Allianz Group and the expertise of the Nigerian team to provide high quality products and services to Nigerian customers in both personal and commercial lines.”

Allianz said it sees Nigeria “as a high-potential market in Africa with a strong regulatory environment and promising demographics”. The insurer has operations in 17 African countries and reports having clients in 39.

It came just a couple of months after Allianz acquired an 8% stake in African Reinsurance Corporation (Africa Re), headquartered in Lagos, the continent’s first and largest reinsurer. The deal was worth USD 81 million.

At the time, the Allianz board member responsible for global insurance and reinsurance in the Middle East and Africa, Niran Peiris, stated that the company had “identified Africa as one of the future growth markets”.

A study published late last year by international law firm Baker McKenzie predicted a rise in mergers and acquisitions in Nigeria and South Africa during 2018.

As the continent’s biggest economy, it is an obvious focus of interest for international investors, especially as the country seeks to diversify its economy in order to protect itself from future variations in the oil price. The government has committed to improving the ease of doing business, with economic growth happening across the West African region.

However, Nigeria has yet to commit to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which was agreed by members of the African Union in March. With South Africa having now committed, there is plenty of scrutiny as to whether Nigeria will follow suit. It would be a blow to both Nigeria and to the credibility of AfCFTA President Muhammadu Buhari is believed to be in favour, but with an election due next year, is cautious about alienating the more protectionist forces in the Nigerian unions by committing to free trade until afterwards, so a commitment from the government may not come until 2019.

Mergers and Acquisitions – The 10 Biggest Deals of 2013

Mergers and acquisitions never reached the fizzy levels experts predicted, but 2013 is still shaping up to be the best year for U.S. deal activity in five years.

Although most mergers and acquisitions ultimately fail to create value for shareholders down the road, it’s hard to say that the economy or markets are truly healthy without them — and that’s not just because investment bankers and corporate law firms need to get paid.

Companies don’t do much wheeling and dealing when markets and the economy are in a funk. A pickup in mergers and acquisitions activity is a sign of confidence — and animal spirits and investor psychology are as critical as anything to ensuring better times ahead.

Despite notching one of the biggest mergers and acquisitions on record, 2013 was hardly a whirlwind of deal activity, but it did pick up smartly.

U.S. mergers and acquisitions volume totaled $865.1 billion in the first nine months of 2013, according to Dealogic. That’s a 39% increase over the same period a year ago — and the highest nine-month total since 2008.

Some deals made huge splashes, while other passed by more quietly, but all of them contributed to the recovery in M&A. For the top 10 mergers acquisitions of 2013, according to FactSet, read on:

#10: Applied Materials (AMAT) Buys Tokyo Electron (TOELY)
Transaction Value: $10 billion

Applied Materials (AMAT) and Tokyo Electron (TOELY) are two of the biggest and most important suppliers to the semiconductor industry in the world, making the machines and technology that turns silicon wafers into computer chips.

Merging the No.1 and No. 3 manufacturers in the industry will create a giant with a market cap of about $30 billion, but more than anything, it’s a defensive move. Technical and financial pressures are squeezing margins and profits in an already mature industry.

Now that the two biggest players have tied the knot, we can expect even more mergers and acquisitions in this sector in 2014.

#9: Spectra Energy Partners (SEP) Buys Spectra Energy Corp.’s (SE) U.S. Transmission, Storage & Liquids Assets
Transaction Value: $9.8 billion

Income investors who love master limited partnerships were licking their chops when this deal was announced. Spectra Energy Partners’ (SEP) acquisition of assets from Spectra Energy Corp. (SE) transforms it into one of the largest fee-based MLPs in the country.

The deal is supposed to offer about $8 billion in organic growth potential by the end of the decade, and it diversifies SEP’s portfolio of energy, storage and transmission revenues.

Best of all for income seekers, SEP expects its annual distribution growth to hit 9% from now until 2015.

#8: American Airlines (AAMRQ) Buys US Airways (LCC)
Transaction Value: $11 billion

US Airways (LCC) had long been looking for a merger partner, but probably didn’t imagine it would find a deal quite like this. AMR Corp. (AAMRQ) — parent of American Airlines — emerged from bankruptcy with a deal in place to merge with US Airways, creating the world’s largest airline in the process.

When American Airlines filed for bankruptcy protection at the end of 2011, it knew that coming out of the process as a standalone company was a losing proposition. Enter US Airways — always a bridesmaid in the consolidation-crazy airline industry.

The deal gives American and US Airways a chance to compete against United Continental Holdings (UAL) and Delta Air Lines (DAL) — and a chance for American to pay back its creditors.

#7: Thermo Fisher Scientific (TMO) Buys Life Technologies (LIFE)
Transaction Value: $13 billion

There were a lot of mergers and acquisitions in the healthcare industry this year — especially in the various specialty subsectors — and no deal was bigger than this.

Thermo Fisher Scientific (TMO), the world’s largest maker of scientific and lab equipment, struck an agreement to buy genetic sequencing company Life Technologies (LIFE). The tie-up vaults Thermo into a prime position in the promising new field of personalized medicine.

Life Technologies is a huge prize because of the dramatic strides it’s making it cutting the time and costs for sequencing human DNA, which allows for the development of highly personal gene-based diagnostic tests and therapies.

#6: Liberty Global (LBTYA) Buys Virgin Media
Transaction Value: $16 billion

This deal didn’t make much of a splash on this side of the pond, but billionaire John Malone’s international cable business sure made waves in the U.K.’s telecom and cable market.

Liberty Global’s (LBTYA) deal to buy U.K. cable-TV and broadband provider Virgin Media created a much stronger rival to No. 1 British Sky Broadcasting.

And it’s already paying off, at least in terms of share-price performance. LBTYA is up 36% for the year-to-date, and up 17% since the Virgin Media deal closed in June.

#5: Publicis Groupe (PUBGY) Buys Omnicom Group (OMC)
Transaction Value: $17 billion

It was a complete and total shock when bitter rivals Publicis (PUBGY) and Omnicom (OMC) agreed to a so-called merger of equals to create the largest advertising agency holding company in the world.

Once the deal closes, the new company will be worth about $35 billion and have roughly $23 billion in annual revenue — and it will leave a vastly changed industry landscape.

Indeed, now that Omnicom and Publicis are hooking up, the Big Four players will become the Big Three, leaving just Omnicom-Publicis, WPP (WPPGY) and Interpublic Group (IPG).

#4: Comcast (CMCSA) Buys NBCUniversal Media from General Electric (GE)
Transaction Value: $17 billion

The sitcom 30 Rock sure had a lot of fun with this drawn-out deal — and it sure took long enough — but General Electric (GE) finally sold its media company to Kabletown, er, Comcast (CMCSA).

The storied NBC network and other entertainment properties are probably a better fit for a cable company than a conglomerate that makes everything from toaster ovens to turbine engines. But it remains to be seen whether NBCU has finally found a good home.

One thing that’s not in doubt is what the deal has done for CMCSA stock price. Comcast stock is up a market-beating 36% for the year-to-date.

#3: Michael Dell and Private Equity Firm Silverlake Buy Dell
Transaction Value: $25 billion

If you needed any evidence that mobile tech is upending the world, look no farther than Dell going private. Once the largest manufacturer of PCs on the planet, Dell just didn’t make much sense as a publicly traded company anymore. On an unadjusted basis, Dell stock used to top $170 a share — but that was a long time ago. When founder Michael Dell and his private equity partners finally bought the company out — something Dell had been pursuing since February — they paid total consideration of just $13.88 a share.

When all was said and done (and after adjusting for splits and dividends), Dell sold at a 75% discount to its all-time high.

#2: Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B) and 3G Partners Buy H.J. Heinz
Transaction Value: $23 billion

Berkshire Hathaway’s (BRK.B) Warren Buffett has had a hard time finding the big elephants he usually likes to hunt, so he must have been very pleased to buy ketchup-maker H.J. Heinz with the help of a private equity partner.

When the news hit, it also fueled a lot of (ultimately false) hope that 2013 would be a banner year for mergers and acquisitions. But that didn’t pan out. Sure, the M&A numbers are the best they’ve been in five years, but they’re still well below all-time highs.

Regardless, it’s always good for market psychology when the Oracle of Omaha goes shopping, and the Heinz deal was a nice vote of confidence early in 2013.

#1: Verizon (VZ) Buys Out Verizon Wireless Stake from Vodafone (VOD)
Transaction Value: $130 billion

The biggest deal of the year — and one of the biggest of all time — was Verizon’s (VZ) agreement to buy out Vodafone’s (VOD) 45% stake in Verizon Wireless.

More than a decade in the making, the deal’s final price tag makes it the third-largest corporate transaction of all time, behind only AOL’s (AOL) merger with Time Warner (TWX), and Vodafone AirTouch’s takeover of Germany’s Mannesmann.

When it comes to mergers and acquisitions, this one looks like a sure winner for VZ shareholders. Even if growth is hard to come by in the saturated mobile market, Verizon Wireless is an absolute cash cow.