Clearwater celebrates record £1bn deals tally

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Clearwater Corporate Finance is celebrating a record year, with the total value of deals it has advised on almost double that in the previous 12 months.

In the year to 31 March 2008, revenue reached £16.1m, an increase over the year of 110%. The firm’s four offices advised on 39 deals worth over £1 billion, compared to 27 deals worth £520 million the year before.

Whilst the results reflect the buoyancy of mid market M&A in the first half of 2007 and a rush of vendors trying to beat the capital gains tax rises in the new tax year, the business has achieved a strong increase in market share. The recent expansion into London has matured well and attracted significant corporate clients to the business from both the UK and overseas.

The deals, which included 23 sell side transactions and 16 buy side transactions ranged in size from £3m up to £150 million.

Private equity houses featured in 23 of the deals, compared to 12 last year, consistent with the increase in market share enjoyed by the private equity industry in UK M&A.

Another feature of Clearwater’s year has been the performance of its operation via its international network. Seven of Clearwater’s deals were cross-border including the largest deal which saw listed group Solvay sell its Capa division in the UK to Perstorp of Sweden for €200m. The deal was funded by French PE house PAI Partners with Clearwater acting for Solvay in a hotly contested auction.

By far the most active sector was support services, which accounted for 13 deals, with industrial products accounting for 8 and retail and consumer brands a further 7.

In headcount terms there were 12 new arrivals which saw the business grow to 56 people by the end of the year with recruitment across all areas of the business including the market leading research and origination team. Recent new London based partner, Marcus Archer, was the latest arrival bringing the number of partners to 12.

Phil Burns, Clearwater joint managing partner said: “While some of the activity was driven by vendors who wanted to beat the capital gains tax rise, the strength of our results shows a strong return from the investment we have made in quality people and our international organisation. We promise our clients excellent service but also a commitment to adding value through origination and we believe this is something that makes us stand out in what is sometimes a crowded advisory market.

“Looking forward our pipeline remains strong and we plan to increase our market share further in 2008/9. The credit crunch is only having a marginal impact on mid market deal opportunities and we are seeing continued demand for opportunities from both PE houses and overseas buyers. This is particularly so from Europe, where the strength of the Euro makes UK investment attractive.”