Rockpool backs Finitor Wealth in double purchase; Italian government presses on with ITA Airways sale

Finitor Wealth's pickups take the firm's assets under advisement to £1.1 billion.

Good morning Eurohubsters, Craig McGlashan here with the Dealflow.

With the summer nearly behind us, it looks like the dealmaking environment is starting again in earnest, with Rockpool Investments leading the way in the UK.

Add-ons. Our reporter David Wansboro has written about Rockpool Investments announcing on Tuesday that it has made an investment in Finitor Wealth to back the purchase of two advisory firms. Finitor has bought UK firms Ascent Financial Consulting and Financial Management Bureau (FMB). The pickups take Finitor’s assets under advisement to £1.1 billion ($1.3 billion; €1.3 billion).

Ascent is a three-adviser firm based in Leamington Spa with £190 million of assets under advisement while FMB is a Kendal-based advisor with £250 million in assets under advisement.

“Finitor Wealth are delighted to have raised investment with Rockpool and this investment has allowed us to grow through the exciting addition of two high quality firms, Ascent Financial Consulting and FMB,” said Paul Stokes, CEO of Finitor Wealth. “We look forward to working with the teams at FMB & Ascent as they continue on their respective journeys.”

Flight plan. Despite being on its way out of office, Italy’s government “is pressing ahead with plans to sell a majority stake in ITA Airways and hopes to choose its preferred bidder by the end of the month”, three sources with close to the matter told Reuters.

Private equity firms are among those hunting a stake, with New York-based fund Certares leading a bid backed by Air France-KLM and Delta Air Lines. There is a rival bid from German airline Lufthansa and shipping group MSC.

The airline industry has been attracting quite a bit of private equity interest of late. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how Ardian was in talks over a possible bid for transport infrastructure firm Ferrovial’s 25% stake in London’s Heathrow Airport.

Disruption. There were few industries that the coronavirus pandemic hit as hard as the aviation industry. But the disruption the outbreak caused was in some ways a boost for companies in other industries.

On that note, David wrote a piece on Accent Equity buying Lyngsoe Systems, a software development company and system integrator of advanced logistical solutions within asset-tracking and automation. The Accent Equity 2017 fund bought the company from Copenhagen-based CataCap, which had been invested in Aars, Denmark-headquartered Lyngsoe since 2014.

Lyngsoe’s logistical and asset-tracking solutions are utilised across the airport, postal, supply chain, library and healthcare industries. Lyngsoe estimates that the market for asset-tracking will grow 20 percent annually up until 2026 from a current estimated value of €4.8 billion. Accent’s investment will look to support Lyngsoe’s growth in the market.

“The disruptions caused by the pandemic have increased global companies’ need to build more resilient supply chains and automate their processes,” said Villads Thomsen, CEO of Lyngsoe Systems. “With our unique competencies within digitalising logistics and supply chains, we are well positioned to expand into this market and realize our growth potential.”

Accent Equity is a Stockholm-based buyout specialist targeting mid-market companies in the Nordic region.

Footing the bill. Earlier in August I wrote a roundup of all the recent private equity investment in European football. One major country was missing – Germany. Well, it looks like that country is now joining the private equity fanbase.

Bloomberg reports that the German Football League has appointed Deutsche Bank to lead a potential sale of media rights, according to sources familiar with the matter.

CVC, Blackstone, EQT, KKR and Advent are among the private equity firms said to be considering entering the bidding.

Back to school. That German football news comes as leagues across Europe restart for the new season. That pretty much means summer’s over – so students will be returning to schools, colleges and universities across the continent.

With that in mind, I took the opportunity to write a round-up of the many private equity deals in the European education sector this year. After starting with the intention of making it a short story, I soon found that there were far, far more education linked deals this year than I’d been expecting.

Luckily there were plenty of interesting ones – so it didn’t feel like homework.

You can read my roundup here.

Nuts for Brazil. In terms of confirmed deals this week, we also saw KKR-backed Albioma, the Paris-headquartered renewable energy producer, finalise an agreement with Ardian-backed GreenYellow on Monday to purchase a portfolio of six photovoltaic power plants in Brazil.

GreenYellow is a Paris-based energy transition partner specialising in decentralised solar photovoltaic production, energy efficiency projects and energy services in France and abroad.

The six power plants are located across four states in Brazil and are fully operational, with a total installed capacity of 31.6 MWp. Albioma’s acquisition of the power plants marks its first entry into the solar power market in Brazil and supports the company’s ambition to be 100% renewable by 2030. Albioma has been operating its historical biomass business model in Brazil since 2014.

Paris-headquartered Ardian’s purchase of a majority stake in GreenYellow – alongside Tikehau Capital, Bpifrance and the Casino Group – was covered by PE Hub Europe in July.

Extra investment. Speaking of energy firms, my colleague Nina Lindholm has updated her piece from Monday on Earth Capital’s plans for its newly established bioenergy platform with a firm figure on the amount of extra cash it will invest. Earth Capital confirmed it would be £4 million ($4.7 million; €4.7 million).

In case you missed it. As promised yesterday, I’ll be providing some of our coverage so far for those readers who are only just joining us.

Keeping with the environmental theme, Nina wrote a great piece about One Equity Partners’ purchase of DESMI and how environmental awareness is fuelling demand for flow-control equipment.

You can read the article here.

Digital safety. As a bit of an IT nerd, I’ve been fascinated by all the reporting of the cyber war being waged amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Cybersecurity has also been piquing the interest of private equity firms.

Nina spoke to SGT Capital about the firm’s acquisition of cybersecurity and compliance solutions provider Utimaco in June.

Utimaco, a firm co-located in Aachen, Germany, and Campbell, California, develops both on-premises and cloud-based hardware security models, and data intelligence solutions for regulated critical infrastructures. Its services are utilised by Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Vodafone and Nokia, to name a few.

You can read the whole interview here.

There could be more cybersecurity deals ahead. Last week, I wrote about Thoma Bravo’s interest in Darktrace, a UK cybersecurity firm headquartered in Cambridge.

That’s it from me – I’ll speak to you again on Wednesday.