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8-9V6.qxp 16/2/09 19:36 Page 9
Helical builds
Alliance Boots is set to merge its
war chest
Boots Opticians business with high
street retailer Dollond & Aitchison
in a move that will create the
Property group Helical Bar has raised almost
second-largest chain of opticians
£30 million to take advantage of potential in the UK.
acquisition opportunities in the sector. Alliance Boots has bought a
The fully listed company offered close to ten
controlling stake in the new
million shares at 285p per share to existing
company, which will be jointly
shareholders and “other institutions”, amounting value lies ahead”
owned with De Rigo, Dollond &
Aitchison’s current owner and one
to almost ten per cent of the company’s capital.
for Helical
of the largest opticians in Europe.
Chief executive Mike Slade, who says Helical
The terms of the transaction
“continues to make steady progress on its
have not been revealed.
existing pipeline of projects” even in today’s falling market. However, he says that he and his
The new entity, which will trade
turbulent conditions, believes many tempting fellow directors “remain convinced that
as Boots Opticians, will have
opportunities are beginning to appear. compelling value lies ahead of us as prices fall around 690 outlets and employ
With the IPD UK property index down 36 per considerably below equilibrium levels”.
more than 5,000 people. The
cent from its 2007 peak, amid mounting tenant He added: “The successful equity raising
company confirmed that the
defaults, falling rental values, a lack of finance provides us with the extra financial firepower
Dollond & Aitchison practices will
and an illiquid investment market, Helical, to take even greater advantage of the
“in due course adopt the Boots
Opticians brand”.
which increased pre-tax profits nearly 70 per significant value that is now emerging in
The transaction, which is
cent to £12.7 million in the half-year to the property market.
subject to the approval of the
September, expects the banks to take control “We are delighted that, with the backing of
competition authorities, is
of many property assets. existing and new investors, we are extremely
expected to be closed in the
The company says it will wait with interest well placed to move swiftly in selecting and
second quarter of 2009.
to see what the banks then do with them. executing the best deals to create long-term
According to Slade, it has so far been value for our shareholders.”
“prudent” to delay making acquisitions in a JPMorgan Cazenove acted as sole bookrunner.
New Era Aquaculture, a fish
feed manufacturer based near
Media Square in asset sell-off
Doncaster, has secured £300,000
of expansion capital from
Enterprise Ventures (EV) and
existing investor South Yorkshire
business to IQ a loss of £13.2 million into a pre-
Investment Fund (SYIF).
Holdings Plc for up to tax profit of £900,000 in the six
The £300,000 investment
£1.5 million. months ended August 2008. comprises £150,000 from EV
Media Square will Executive chairman Roger
through its Coalfields Enterprise
receive an initial cash Parry said: “Media Square has
Fund and a £150,000 equity-
payment of £600,000, now recovered from its period of
linked investment from SYIF.
together with new over-ambitious and over-rapid
The funding will enable New Era
to boost export sales and to expand
shares in IQ worth expansion. Like other marketing
the manufacturing facility to
£300,000. The deal communications companies, it
include a live holding facility.
also includes a deferred faces difficult trading conditions
Richard Bamford, executive
component of up to and is taking action to ensure
chairman of EV, said the
£600,000 in cash over that the group is correctly
investment showed that the
the next three years. positioned for such conditions. regional venture capital market
The proceeds of the “However, the fundamentals of
was definitely open for business,
sale will be used to strong business management are
despite the current recession and
reduce the group’s £17 now in place, and therefore the
market liquidity issues.
Media Square Plc, the AIM- million debt burden. board is cautiously optimistic
SYIF originally supported the
company in 2005 with a £50,000
traded international marketing Last year, the group about future prospects.”
loan so “it was delighted to
communications group, has announced that progress had
continue to invest in such an
completed the sale of part of its been made in turning around
Roger Parry, executive chairman
of Media Square
innovative company”.
marketing research consultancy the ailing business, transforming
Mergers & Acquisitions 9
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