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Recent news and notable deals from BKR International firm, UNW (Newcastle).

UNW advises on £100m worth of deals in record first quarter of 2015

BUSINESS advisers UNW delivered a record-breaking first quarter of 2015, having completed an unprecedented number of deals with a combined transactional value of around £100m.

Newcastle-based UNW say the advisory market is returning to pre-recession levels after its Corporate Finance team brought six separate transactions over the line in a blockbusting first 12 weeks of the year.

Now UNW, which has expanded its advisory department by a third over the last 18 months, is forecasting a record year overall, as its experts in acquisitions, disposals and fundraisings report a healthy pipeline of activity still to come.

Over the first quarter, UNW successfully helped Teesside chemical firm Chemoxy secure a £20m funding package, including £10m growth capital investment from the Business Growth Fund and £10m of working capital from Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), as well as advising on the sale of Basingstoke storage company Solid State Solutions (S3) to outsourcing giant Capita plc.

The UNW team also helped sell 155-year-old radiology protective equipment manufacturer W S Rothband via a management buy in and acted for Gentoo in the sale of Wigan-based Astley Facades to Entu plc.

In addition, the St. James’ Boulevard-based firm advised on a joint venture between Gentoo Construction and Tolent plc, as well as selling a channel service provider to a London private equity house in a confidential transaction.

UNW Corporate Finance partner Paul Kaiser said: “Our Corporate Finance team is now the biggest in the North and we are confident our collective skills in fundraisings, acquisitions and disposals can compete with the best nationally.

“Having recognised that the market was recovering, we have invested heavily in our advisory department, leaving us perfectly placed to take advantage of this more buoyant market and to handle larger transaction volumes.

“We have made five new appointments to UNW’s Corporate Finance team in the last 18 months, which have further bolstered our national and regional experience in M&A (mergers and acquisitions), and brings our team up to 15 people.

“For us these transactions, and a very strong pipeline coming through, provide us with real evidence that we are getting towards pre-2008 transaction volumes, which, with the uncertainty of the general election out of the way, means it’s a very good climate to sell or raise money for your business.”

UNW says its integrated approach, and being able to draw on knowledge and experience from its in-house tax, due diligence and completion accounts specialists, ensures that transactions are completed efficiently and promptly.

As well as advising on management buy outs (MBOs) and management buy ins (MBIs), mergers and acquisitions, restructurings, disposals, funding and strategic planning, UNW’s Corporate Finance team is also the North-East’s leading dedicated grant adviser having completed grant applications for hundreds of businesses.

Its team has a vast knowledge of the UK grants regime, providing significant added value by identifying suitable grants and then project managing the application process to a successful completion.

UNW dental deal safeguards 10 Sunderland jobs

UNW have helped safeguard 10 jobs and the treatment of thousands of patients after helping a Sunderland dental practice, trading under the threat of a compulsory purchase order for the last decade, change hands and move sites.

Experts in UNW’s Dental Business Unit advised three ambitious North-East dentists on the “extremely complex” acquisition of Wessington Way Dental Practice in Sunderland, which was based on a site earmarked for Sunderland’s new £100m-plus bridge over the River Wear.

The team celebrated brokering the highly complicated deal, which would normally take around nine months, for new owners Iain Morrison, Paul Shenfine and Nigel Suggett, as it was formally opened by Sunderland Mayor, Councillor Stuart Porthouse.

The speedy transaction included obtaining planning permission and getting a lease agreed for the new healthcare facility located just 50 yards away on Hylton Park Road, as well as obtaining the green light from the dental industry regulators and the NHS plus coordinating the build contracts in just 10 weeks.

The deal will come as a relief for the 1,000-plus patients who had previously submitted a petition to Sunderland City Council over the fate of the popular dental practice and retiring former owner Martin Anderson, who has seen his long established practice taken on by the next generation of dentists keen to look after and grow the existing patient base.

UNW Dental Business Unit partner Alan Suggett said: “It’s fair to say this is the most difficult deal I have brokered in my life but it came off.“There were so many issues at play here, not least the timing of it all and the shadow of compulsory purchase over our heads, which made this an extremely complex purchase and relocation deal to pull off.

“But everybody involved from Sunderland City Council to the Care Quality Commission, NHS England, the lawyers and the new landlord and builder worked really, really hard to make this happen, and bring it over the line in incredibly tight time scales.”

Hayley Robertson of the UNW Dental Business Unit tax team added: “I know all three of these dentists independently, and it’s nice to think that after UNW introduced them to each other that they have gone on to co-own Wessington Dental, as well as continuing to trade in each of their own practices.”

The trio, who each own other dental practices in the region, are now looking forward to welcoming existing and new private patients for check-ups and advanced cosmetic dentistry work including dental implants, used to replace missing teeth, teeth whitening and teeth straightening.

Iain Morrison is the owner of Newgate Dental Solutions in Morpeth, where his digital marketing skills have seen him double turnover in just 12 months and carry out cosmetic dental work for the cast of hit MTV show Geordie Shore.

Paul Shenfine, one of the country’s leading cosmetic dentists who has trained all over the world, owns Darras Dental in Darras Hall, Ponteland.

While Nigel Suggett is the owner of Seaham Smiles in Seaham, County Durham, a mainly NHS practice, which also offers dental implants and other private treatments.

Co-owner Iain Morrison said: “We are delighted to have secured this new site and finally opened the doors after what has been a series of complex negotiations.

“All the materials and equipment in here are the best money can buy and this new practice in the RTC North building has been custom built to meet all of the latest sterilisation regulations.

“We currently have 2,500 patients and hope that by bringing cutting edge dental techniques to Sunderland and by making ourselves accessible with late night and weekend opening and good parking that we will grow this patient base.”

UNW Forensics Team help bring two fraudulent bosses to justice

Two trusted North-East company bosses – who stole more than £1m between them – were brought to justice within seven days of each other, thanks to the forensics team at business advisers UNW.

Headed up by former Northumbria police officer Phil Loveday, the unique department at the Newcastle chartered accountants provided evidential packages to police for two separate clients and fraud victims, Houghton-le-Spring-based recycled food packaging company Re Pet and South Tyneside conveyor belt maintainer and vulcaniser Millennium Conveyor Services (MCS).

Evidence provided by UNW was used by Northumbria Police to help ensure financial director John Forrest was sentenced to three years and 8 months jail time on Friday (May 22) for stealing almost £650,000 from Re Pet and £350,000 in VAT and that engineer Steven Wallace was sentenced to 23 months prison, suspended for 18 months, for scamming £50,000 out of MCS.

The pair of guilty verdicts, delivered at Newcastle Crown Court on consecutive Fridays this month (May), were welcomed after months of painstaking background work prepared for the companies by the St. James’ Boulevard-based firm.

UNW forensics services team head Phil Loveday said: “Convictions for complex frauds of this type, involving highly trusted members of senior management, are not necessarily easy to secure because the police don’t always have the time and fraud squad resources have been severely reduced due to recent cuts.


“Having previously worked for Northumbria Police for 30 years, 10 years in the fraud squad, what I can now do at UNW for businesses is quite unique, pulling together all the preparatory investigative work and providing that as an evidential package to the police.

“When people in positions of complete trust betray the shareholders, directors and staff like this, it it is vital they are brought to justice and I am delighted UNW has been able to help in securing both of these convictions on behalf of the private sector.”

Northumbria Police’s DCI Paul Bent said: “Since 2014, a private company UNW have assisted police with these investigations and this approach has allowed the criminal investigations to be conducted expeditiously.”

The court heard how financial director John Forrest, 48, pocketed £646,996 from Re Pet to pay for holidays, private schools fees, hotels and furniture while the company headed towards administration, and fraudulently claimed more than £350,000 in VAT from the taxpayer for the firm.

While his two fellow directors worked hard to make the business a success, dad-of-two Forrest of Hawthorn Road, Gosforth, was siphoning away money to keep for himself.

Forrest was jailed last week for 44 months after pleading guilty to theft and fraud charges and banned from being a company director for 10 years.

Sentencing him, Judge Robert Adams said: “On the company credit card there were over 100 payments (worth £163,895) clearly identified as being for your own benefit for legal bills, school fees, holidays, various fixtures bought by you. That reflects the blatant personal gain.

“The loss to the business in total is £646,996. The business has gone into administration with the obvious effect on other directors and employees.

“You have benefited by the way of holidays, children’s school fees being paid, which you otherwise could not afford, and you placed the needs of your family and yourself over your duties as a director to shareholders.”

The previous week (May 15) trusted engineer Wallace was found guilty of putting his company’s future at risk when he scammed them out of £50,000 by ordering large quantities of stainless steel that MCS didn’t need.

The project manager father-of-two then used his contacts in the industry to sell on the steel, pocketing the proceeds.

Wallace, of Norg Street, High Barnes, Sunderland, narrowly avoided a jail term after admitting one count of fraud.

Wallace enlisted the help of friend William Lowery, 52, of St Oswald’s Avenue, Walker, who worked for one of his suppliers, to help transport the metal. He was given a 10 month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, after he also admitted one count of fraud for his part in the con.

Sentencing Wallace, Judge Adams said: “These materials were diverted elsewhere and what profit you received is not entirely clear but the sums involved were significant and the losses caused to MCS were significant.”

The court heard Wallace’s scam had added to MCS’s financial troubles and had reduced their credibility in the trade, which had resulted in a loss of staff.

Wallace was also ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid work and must adhere to a curfew on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.


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