There was a flurry of merger and acquisition activity between June and September, with deals worth close to £2bn being made at home and abroad.
Building material supplier Wolseley was firmly on the acquisition trail, adding eight companies to its portfolio, including the biggest deal of the four-month period.
In July, Wolseley snapped up Danish rival DT Group for £1.4bn. The acquisition gave the plumbing materials group its first major presence in the Nordic region and was its biggest ever deal.
DT Group was not Wolseley’s only acquisition in the period. The following month it bought three European and three North American companies for a total of £36m. The targets included some assets of US firm Martin Architectural Products, Illinois-based Water Works Supplies, US plumbing and heating distributor Palermo, French distributor Depont Materiaux, Belgian pipe specialist Marmon Keystone Anbuma and Cheshire-based Lunts Heath. Wolseley also bought The Insulations Companies for £22m. The acquisitions take Wolseley’s deal tally for the year to close to £2bn.
Unsurprisingly, Chip Hornsby, Wolseley’s chief executive, said: “Making bolt-on acquisitions is an important part of delivering double-digit growth and the pipeline for the year is strong.”
Making bolt-on acquisitions is an important part of delivering double-digit growth
Chip Hornsby, Wolseley
Contractor ROK also made multiple acquisitions in the four-month period. The biggest was its recent £31m purchase of Tulloch Construction Group. The deal, funded through a share issue, gives Rok a huge footprint in the Scottish market. The contractor also bought West Midlands-based contractor Kingfisher for £4.5m.
Stewart McColl, the acquisitive chief executive of architect SMC Group, also had Scotland in his sights. At the end of September, SMC made a splash in the Scottish market with the acquisition of four businesses, Parr Architects, Jenkins & Marr, Davis Duncan and Hugh Martin Architects. SMC also added Midlands-based Hickton Madeley, spending a total of £11.7m on the five practices.
The US market proved fertile ground for UK companies wanting to expand through acquisition. International materials group CRH broke its transaction record when its US subsidiary Oldcastle Materials made an £685m offer for Ashland Paving and Construction.
However, UK firms were not immune to overseas acquirers. British brickmaker Baggeridge Brick was bought by its Austrian rival Wienerberger for 89m.