Tech dominated private equity and VC investments in 2020. Chris Maguire looked at 10 of the main players.
The North West team at UK-wide firm BGF started 2020 by announcing they’d topped the £300m mark for investments in businesses across the region and 2020 turned out to be a busy year for BGF. There were successful exits of a subsidiary of Hobs Group and web hosting company Miss Group and a £3m investment into ROI, a lead generation technology company.
North West-based Beech Tree Private Equity made a ‘significant investment’ into fast-growing cloud computing business Transparity Solutions. Beech Tree has previously enjoyed success with its investments and acquisitive strategies for cloud managed services provider BCN Group and communications technology business Wavenet. They have more exciting potential investments in the pipeline so watch this space.
Key Capital Partners
Private equity house Key Capital Partners completed a £7m investment into the Bolton-based online darts retailer, Darts Corner. Darts Corner was founded in 2007 and is the market-leading online provider of darts and accessories and sells all over the world.
2020 was an especially busy year for mid-market private equity firm LDC, capped with a £36m investment in Cheshire manufacturer Rhino Products.
On the exit side LDC said goodbye to workforce management software specialist Mitrefinch after a four-year partnership that saw Mitrefinch invest heavily in technology as it transformed into a market leading SaaS business.
LDC also exited employment specialist Ellis Whittam after a four-year partnership and Giacom, the specialist cloud services marketplace. LDC had been invested in Giacom since 2016.
VC firm Acceleris Capital was part of a £2.8m investment in Sunderland-based green energy tech business Power Roll. Maven Capital Partners, Green Angel Syndicate, Greenwood Way, and NorthInvest invested alongside Acceleris Capital.
Maven Capital Partners
Maven Capital Partners invested £2m in Manchester-based MirrorWeb, a tech firm that enables organisations to capture, archive and monitor web-based content for digital oversight and regulatory compliance.
Maven Capital Partners was also part of the group that invested in North East-based Power Roll.
Private equity firm NorthEdge supported the MBO of Harrogate-based Lights4fun, one of Europe’s leading eCommerce retailers of decorative lighting. The direct-to-consumer business has been operating since 2003 and employs more than 40 people and generates revenues in excess of £20m. Its managing director is Kieran Eblett.
It was a busy year for mid-market private equity investor Endless, with a $45m acquisition of Amscan International though an MBO. Milton Keynes-based Amscan is a market leader in the international design, manufacture, distribution and omnichannel retail of party products and supplies.
The deal came shortly after Premier Foods confirmed it had sold its interest in Hovis to Endless for an undisclosed price.
Palatine acquired a stake in a fast-growing training company which helps individuals return to employment and develop new skills. Back2Work was founded in 2010 by MD Luke Muscat and Tony Bailey and delivers intensive training courses to help the long-term unemployed return to work, retrain or re-skill. It also offers a digital marketing apprenticeship programme and runs online training courses for employed people to support career progression in sectors such as health and social care.
Praetura Ventures has a track record of investing in tech having previously backed healthtech start-up Patchwork, medtech Inotec AMD and Dr Fertility.
In September it was announced Praetura had invested £1m in Leeds-based RapidSpike, which helps businesses defend themselves against customer-focused cyber attacks.