A rare mix of transport and technology transactions drove healthy activity in the Cambridge cluster in May with deal value topping $3.1 billion.
It took the value of transactions to $105.063bn in the 38 months of Business Weekly’s Cambridge Deals Digest – a monthly average of just over $2.76bn.
Low fares airline Ryanair, anchored at Stansted Airport, winged in with $1.4bn of investment in a new European Training Centre at the Essex hub plus associated scale-up across its UK network.
The investment was announced at Stansted by CEO Michael O’Leary as Chancellor George Osborne performed the official opening ceremony.
Marshall Motor Holdings in Cambridge was also in seventh heaven. It acquired Ridgeway Garages (Newbury) Ltd for just under £107 million cash acquisition that significantly extends its UK franchise empire.
CEO Daksh Gupta described it as a transformational deal which sees the company expand its geographic footprint from 19 to 25 counties, add 30 franchises and increase its product range and freehold property assets.
It also makes Marshall Motors the seventh largest motor group in the UK. The headline deal in hi-tech was ARM’s $350 million cash swoop for imaging technology innovator Apical.
CEO Simon Segars said the deal supported ARM’s long term growth strategy by enabling new imaging products for next generation vehicles, security systems, robotics, mobile and any consumer, smart building, industrial or retail application where intelligent image processing was needed.
Driverless cars is just one of the vertical markets being targeted by the imaging power play. Mobile payments technology business Bango added millions of dollars of new revenue to its bottom line through an acquisition on the other side of the Pond.
Bango acquired BilltoMobile, the US-based carrier billing services of Danal Inc, for an initial consideration of $3.5m. BilltoMobile services processed approximately $80m of end user spend last year, making it the largest carrier billed payments processor in the US by volume.
For the second time in a couple of months a technology business with a Cambridge base was lined up for acquisition by the Chinese. Following ongoing negotiations to sell online games publisher Jagex to Shangdong Hongda, the German-owned AIXTRON SE – based locally at Buckingway Business Park – is being sold to Chinese investor Fujian Grand Chip Investment Fund LP (FGC).
It launched a voluntary public takeover offer through its indirect German subsidiary Grand Chip Investment GmbH (GCI) – a deal which values AIXTRON at around €670 million. AIXTRON SE owes much to Cambridge IP and specialises in manufacturing metalorganic chemical vapour deposition equipment for clients in the semiconductor industry.
American VC firm TTV Capital led a $9m round for Cambridge technology business Featurespace that will fund global expansion. It is the specialist FinTech investor’s first foray into mainland UK.
Featurespace is a global leader in machine learning fraud prevention using adaptive behavioural analytics spun out of Cambridge University.
Imperial Innovations, Nesta, Cambridge Angels and Cambridge Capital Group also participated in the round. City investment heavyweight Unicorn AIM VCT injected £1m into a heftily over-subscribed £3.1m funding round for equity crowdfunding platform SyndicateRoom.
The cash is being used to allow the young Cambridge UK business to pursue growth in equity capital markets via an aggressive strategy over the next six months. It believes it has the springboard to become Cambridge’s next billion dollar business.
The initial target of £2.3m was reached in just 10 hours after going live on SyndicateRoom’s platform. DevicePilot, whose technology is tipped to accelerate progress in unleashing the full power of IoT, raised over £600k from an impressive list of entrepreneurs and angels to scale the business.
Formerly 1248, the company is based in Cambridge and London.Its software continuously monitors and manages thousands or millions of connected products over their complete life-cycle as IoT projects move from pilot stage to deployment at scale.
CEO Pilgrim Beart and chairman Rob Dobson have each previously achieved $100 million exits from new technology businesses, Beart with AlertMe which was sold to British Gas. Other hi-tech, CleanTech, life science and property deals locally totalled $39.73m in the month and there were 19 significant transactions where the parties declined to disclose financial details. At the time of writing Sanofi, which owns Genzyme locally, continued to chase US company Medivation with a $9.3bn bid that has turned hostile.
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