Benchmark International Advises On The Sale Of Clady Plumbing Supplies Limited To Bassetts N.I. Limited

Benchmark International is pleased to announce that a deal has been agreed for the sale of Clady Plumbing Supplies Limited to Bassetts N.I. Limited.

C.P.S. are one of Mid-Ulster’s oldest established Plumbers Merchants. The company take great pride in being known as the ‘one stop’ plumbers merchant by virtue of the fact that they stock, or can source, almost any item you require to satisfy your plumbing & heating requirements. C.P.S’s goods are all supplied by the most reputable manufacturers, with their highly experienced, capable & friendly staff offering an efficient service.

Founded in 1982, Bassetts are a local company with a global backing. They have found the perfect balance between focusing on Northern Ireland while also reaping the benefits of being part of the Saint-Gobain Group, a worldwide company with over 1,000 outlets in 18 countries. As a business they cater for every plumbing and heating need, ranging from boilers and radiators through to bathrooms, showers, tiles and everything in between.

On behalf of everyone at Benchmark International, we would like to wish both parties every success for the future.


Benchmark International’s global offices provide business owners in the middle market and lower middle market with creative, value-maximizing solutions for growing and exiting their businesses. To date, Benchmark International has handled engagements in excess of $5B across 30 industries worldwide. With decades of global M&A experience, Benchmark International’s deal teams, working from 13 offices across the world, have assisted hundreds of owners with achieving their personal objectives and ensuring the continued growth of their businesses.

1st Class Holidays to PHD Equity Partners Deal shortlisted for ‘Deal of the Year (sub £10m)’

Benchmark International is proud to announce that the deal in which 1st Class Holidays was acquired by PHD Equity Partners has been shortlisted for ‘Deal of the Year (sub £10m)’ at this year’s Insider North West Dealmakers Awards.

An annual and prestigious event, the Insider North West Dealmakers Awards celebrates the achievements of the North West’s corporate M&A professionals and recognises the firms and individuals who are at the top of their game.

Benchmark International advised 1st Class Holidays on the sale to PHD Equity Partners and successfully negotiated a deal to suit the objectives of both parties, whilst also enabling shareholders and original founders, Paul Ainsworth and Sharon Mason, to retain an active role within the business.

Founded in 1996, 1st Class Holidays quickly established itself as the market leader in long haul, tailor-made holidays to luxury destinations such as Canada, North America, Australia and New Zealand. A company with vision, it shows no signs of slowing down and continues to lead the way in the industry, winning the ‘Favourite Tour Operator’ a record 13 times at the British Annual Canada Travel Awards.

PHD Equity Partners is an independent investment and advisory private equity firm that manages one of the UK’s largest private equity funds, exclusively funded by private investors. The Partners are a team of industry seasoned, experienced corporate finance professionals and entrepreneurs, who have an innate understanding of the challenges of growing and shaping a successful business.

“We are delighted to have achieved a successful outcome for our clients, and to have completed our first deal with the highly-regarded PHD Equity Partners”, said Nick Hulme, Managing Director (Transactions), Benchmark International.

Sell & Stay: What business owners can learn from the UFC

American mixed martial arts promotion company, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has hit the headlines again as it was revealed its new investors include 23 celebrities and sports figures. Ben Affleck, Mark Wahlberg, Tom Brady, and Serena Williams are just some of the famous faces who make up the group of private investors who bought the UFC for a figure reportedly in the region of $4 billion in July this year.

The price tag is considerably impressive considering the organisation was purchased for just $2 million back in 2001 by Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta and their high school friend Dana White. While both of the Fertitta brothers have left the company, crowd-pleasing White has remained as president, meaning UFC fans across the world are rejoicing.

Unlike the Fertitta brothers, who took a back seat from the outset, White has always been a firm fixture in front of the cameras, working to promote the fights as well as fronting the UFC’s reality television spin-off The Ultimate Fighter. Since the sale, White has stated that his workload within the UFC is likely to increase with him having to take on a bigger role behind the scenes, demonstrating that despite the rumoured $360 million he made from the sale, he is not yet ready to turn his back on the UFC.

The news highlights a key issue that can arise within businesses: what if you want to sell, but do not want to leave? Despite the general perception of business owners selling up, buying a yacht and never working again, it is actually common for owners to stay working within the business post-sale.

What is the reason?

Business owners looking to stay within a business post-sale usually do so for two reasons: the first is the financial security it brings, extending far beyond regular income and allowing business owners to de-risk their financial portfolio and remove their name from the company’s debt. Another reason is that the business is a passion-project and the owner may prefer to work in the business rather than on it.

While we do not know White’s personal reasons for staying with the UFC, the reports of his new deal indicate he will be heavily rewarded financially. As well as the $360 million for the sale, ESPN recently reported that White’s new deal is for five years and will see him secure nine per cent of the company’s net profits.

Understand the options

Owners looking to remove the financial risk from their portfolios find that financial buyers, such as the celebrities involved in the UFC deal, are the best option. This type of deal sees the owner sell a percentage of their interest as well as relinquish some control, all while still remaining in the business indefinitely or for a specified period of time.

For those who are driven by a love for the business and a desire to work within it, finding a strategic partner with experience in that particular industry or an interest to expand into it can work to their advantage. The right buyer will be as invested in the business as much as the owner and should actively seek to keep the owner for the value they bring in the form of market knowledge and key contacts.

Know the role

Once a potential buyer has been earmarked, business owners need to quickly define their post-sale role, their exact responsibilities and who they will report to. These conversations need to be had at the start to avoid complicated negotiations and business owners should stand firm on what they are looking for in their position. As with any conversation surrounding elements of the deal, it is important that business owners align themselves with a trusted partner who is able to provide a third-party perspective if matters turn difficult or become emotionally charged.

Business owners should utilise the skills of an expert partner, not just in terms of advice and guidance but when it comes to finalising all of the terms of the deal. An expert advisor will know what to look for in any contracts and how to identify clauses that might cause concern.

Things are going to change…

When a business owner moves to a different position, it can sometimes prove difficult for them to check their ego at the door. Regardless of the original owner’s role in the new company, someone else’s money is now at stake and the new owners are going to make decisions that a past owner may not agree with. Although this can prove to be challenging, it is important for past owners to look back at the reasons why they decided to sell while remaining in the business and the rewards that have come with the deal.

As for White, it remains to be seen whether he will stay with the UFC beyond his five-year deal and, despite there already being instances of him voicing his dissatisfaction of recent booking decisions, the sale of the company he fought hard to grow has resulted in huge financial rewards and allowed him to remain in a business he cares deeply about.

Stay tuned to our blog for M&A news and remember to get in touch with our experienced team with any questions you have about the M&A process and how Benchmark International can help you.

Twitter and the great rumour mill of 2016

Author Terry Pratchett once said, “A lie can run round the world before the truth has got its boots on.” Nowhere is this truer than in the world of mergers and acquisitions. The potential buy-out of Twitter by Disney has been the subject of much rumour and this article looks at their veracity as well as examining other suitors that may be eyeing the micro-blogging site.

Birds and eggs

Twitter was launched on 21 March 2006 as a way for a group of friends to communicate via SMS. By the second quarter of 2016, its monthly active users averaged 313 million worldwide. It is a favourite of celebrities such as Katy Perry who, with 93 million followers, is the most ‘popular’ person on Twitter. Last year, it was estimated that the Twitter brand was worth $2.21 billion.

It is no wonder, then, that Twitter is being watched keenly and closely by some of the biggest corporations in the world, despite the company reporting a $251 million loss last year. The most famous name associated with these rumours is Disney which, as the owner of the TV channels ESPN and ABC, is looking to consolidate its position as a digital leader as well as make inroads into newer types of media such as live streamed video content.

No official announcement from Disney has yet been made, although rumours suggest that the corporation is in talks with banks in preparation for a bidding war. The fact that the CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, is currently a Disney board member and is a close associate of Disney’s Chief Executive, Bob Iger, only adds fuel to an already overheated debate. Meanwhile, on the back of the rumour mill, Twitter’s stock increased by over 20 per cent and rose even further when Disney was named as a possible buyer. It’s suggested that Disney would have to pay anywhere between $18 billion and $30 billion.

Other suitors

Disney is not the only company said to be interested in acquiring Twitter. Over recent years, it has been linked with a number of companies keen to get on the 140 character bandwagon.

Google: Considered by some to be a natural fit, a Google buyout would enable the technology company to build its social media platform rather than compete from scratch, as well as offer advertising synergy. Conversely, Twitter would benefit from Google’s analytic capabilities and its experience in dealing with social and ethical issues such as censorship.

Salesforce: The San Francisco-based cloud computing company was linked with Twitter as recently as 23 September 2016, despite warnings of a stock plunge if the deal goes ahead. The company lost out on its bid for LinkedIn earlier this year, with Microsoft sealing the deal, so the company is clearly keen to find a way into social media. The attraction of Twitter for Salesforce is its real-time data which it is eager to utilise in B2B marketing.

News Corp: First mooted in January and again in June 2016, News Corp’s interest in Twitter seemingly won’t go away, despite vehement denials. As the owner of the now unpopular MySpace, News Corp seems desperate to acquire a social media channel with which to distribute its news output.

Other possible buyers for Twitter include Time Warner, Twenty-First Century Fox, private equity group Silver Lake, Yahoo!, Comcast Corporation, Apple, Facebook, Verizon Communications, AT & T, Microsoft, Amazon, and a Saudi Arabian prince. If Disney is interested, it may have to hurry. Our final bit of grist on the rumour mill is that Twitter could be bought within the next six weeks, so watch this space.

With experience in a number of key sectors and representation throughout the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia, Benchmark International can connect you with the right opportunity. To find out more, visit

Focus on Biotech M&A

M&A in the Biotech sector rose by 25 per cent in the third quarter of 2016 compared to the two previous quarters, but is still down in activity seen in 2015. This activity was driven by small and medium deals but also the biggest deal of the year so far; German drug manufacturer Bayer’s takeover of the US agricultural seed producer, Monsanto, for $66 billion.

August was a period of buyer’s remorse, as global diagnostic device and service provider company Alere, filed a lawsuit against its seemingly reluctant prospective purchaser Abbot Laboratories to force the company to continue with its $5.8 billion deal. Alere alleges that Abbot ‘breached the merger agreement…by failing to promptly secure antitrust approvals and other regulatory requirements’ and that the company has overstretched itself by making an earlier purchase of medical implement manufacturer St Jude Medical in April for $25 billion.

No such acrimony was exhibited at the takeover of Sage Products by Stryker Corp for $2.8 billion. Sage manufactures surgical items which reduce hospital-acquired infections such as MRSA thus preventing post-operative complications. Stryker manufactures artificial knees and hips so its acquisition of Sage helps reduce both infections and the threat of lawsuits.

Shire, the Jersey-registered biopharmaceutical company, acquired Baxalta specialists in rare diseases and highly-specialised conditions, in June 2016, for $32 billion. The acquisition looks set to double the annual revenue of Shire by focusing in more detail on its core business as well as protecting it from hostile interest in the future.

What’s next?

Shares in Biogen, a company which specialises in therapies for neurological, autoimmune and rare diseases, rose in early August after rumours that several drug companies were interested in purchasing it. Merck and Allergan were among those mentioned in a possible deal, despite denials from all parties, who said that they do not comment on speculation.

Gilead Sciences, which develops innovative medicines, is also a company surrounded by M&A speculation, with pharmaceutical giant Merck being mentioned in relation to the California-based biopharmaceutical company. Merck is also rumoured to be interested in RNA-targeted drug company; Ionis Pharmaceuticals which has a potential price tag of around $4 billion.

Stay tuned to our blog for more industry specific M&A news and remember to get in touch with our experienced team with any questions you have about the M&A process and how Benchmark International can help you.

M&A FAQs: We Answer Your Questions

The team at Benchmark International is often approached by business owners with questions about M&A and what the typical process looks like. As with most things in the business world, one merger or acquisition is rarely the same as the last, but there are some key areas that you need to be aware of if you are thinking of buying or selling a business.

Here we answer some of the most common questions we get asked.

What are the factors that traditionally motivate businesses to opt for M&A?

There are a number of reasons why businesses consider a merger or acquisition. Unsurprisingly, the main reason usually boils down to improving financial performance. This can be achieved by M&A through increasing a company’s market share and gaining new territory as well as searching for and implementing synergies, whether that is reducing fixed costs or eliminating duplicate functions. When it comes to businesses in the small- to mid-market, retirement and succession planning are also major contributing factors.

How long does the M&A process take?

The time it takes to sell a business comes down to a number of factors including negotiations around the value of the business, geographic location, the type of business that it is, market conditions and the method of financing. Typically, small business purchases can be completed in less than 12 months, whereas a mid-market company can be a year or more, depending on the aforementioned factors.

Is there a particular time that I should sell my business?

It is always advised that you sell your business when it is performing well financially. However, it does not always happen this way, some sales can come down to succession planning. On the other hand, it goes without saying that buyers want to acquire a business when profits are steady or increasing.

How can I reduce the risk of losing employees after an M&A deal?

This is the most common concern that business owners have. It is true that M&A deals can prove to be a deeply unsettling time for staff as they can feel like their role is at risk, that they are out of the loop or the working culture they know will soon become a thing of the past. In order to prevent this, business owners must get their communication strategy absolutely right during the M&A process and let employees know of any movements and changes every step of the way. They must also find a way to let employees know that their skills and experience are highly valued in the business and, if necessary, provide a financial incentive to stay.

What is the most common mistake that sellers make in M&A?

In our experience, sellers can have unrealistic expectations of what their business is worth. In all cases, we work to try and maximise the business value for our clients in order for it to achieve the best possible price on the market.

Do I need help selling my business or can I just sell it myself?

If you have knowledge of the M&A process and how it all works then you can, of course, sell your business on your own. However, an owner is an expert at running their business, not selling one, and they do not have access to an established network of buyers or the experience it takes to manage the sale.

Also, your skills as a business owner are better utilised on business operations to ensure that everything is operating at its peak. If you spend the majority of your time focusing on the sale and the business suffers as a result, acquirers are likely to want to renegotiate on the price. What a lot of business owners who are selling their business forget is that any drop in business performance has a direct effect on the valuation and, in the worst cases, can lead to the deal falling through.

Working with a partner such as Benchmark International will give you access to an experienced team of financial marketing and negotiating specialists as well as our international database of buyers.

With experience in a number of key sectors and representation throughout the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia, Benchmark International can connect you with the right opportunity. To find out more, visit

M&A is Key to Reaching Younger Market

Whether it is a food manufacturer acquiring a start-up that specialises in organic goods or a media company making an investment in app development, there is little doubt that a number of M&A deals are being driven by businesses wanting to make that shift to attracting a younger market.

Accessing new markets through M&A enables businesses to build a safety net, or ecosystem, to ensure they are protected when times get tough. But, more importantly, these investments guarantee growth even when the industry containing their core offering has slowed.

The perfect example of this comes from one of the biggest deals of this summer when Microsoft purchased LinkedIn for $26.2 billion. Not only did this deal provide a clear valuation of what a social media network is worth (something we did not have visibility of before), more importantly, it means Microsoft now possesses one of the world’s most influential digital media companies.

In a previous blog post we discussed the 2006 acquisition of Pixar Studios by Disney, which propelled the company into the 21st Century with a fresh approach that catered to the changing tastes of a modern cinema-going audience. Fast forward to 2016 and we are seeing businesses, particularly those in the consumer goods sector, look to M&A to grow and reach new customers.

Indeed, consumer goods businesses continue to grapple with the importance of ecommerce and the challenge of competing in this new world without having to rely too heavily on margin-squeezing giants like Amazon. These challenges certainly make M&A the ideal tool for growth, but also customer engagement, as demonstrated by Walmart’s $3.3 billion purchase of, a shopping website less than a year old, and the $1 billion purchase of Dollar Shave Club by Unilever. Most recently, rumours have circulated that Honest, the personal care company co-founded by actress Jessica Alba, is gearing up for a sale following its recent valuation of $1.7 billion, with multinational manufacturer Proctor & Gamble said to be interested. With 40 per cent of its business coming from retailers and the remainder generated online, Honest is an attractive option for a business that uses traditional routes to market like Proctor & Gamble does.

By acquiring brands that resonate with a younger market, consumer goods businesses are able to reopen the channel of communication to their customers, having previously forfeited any direct contact due to their reliance on retailers.

With customer habits continuing to change and the organic growth of the consumer goods industry slowing, M&A provides an excellent way for businesses to increase profitability, reach new and younger audiences and remain relevant in what is still an incredibly competitive and challenging area.

With experience in a number of key sectors and representation throughout the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia, Benchmark International can connect you with the right opportunity. To find out more, visit