Congratulations to our 2023 finalists!
Acquisitive Company of the Year
- AAB Group
AAB has seen exceptional growth and successful integration of six companies within a year. The acquisitions, including FPM, Charlton House, Think People, May Figures, Kilkee, and Dominion Systems, expanded AAB's services and revenue. Their revenue skyrocketed from around £40m to approximately £65m, a remarkable 60%+ increase. AAB's strategic approach focused on cultural alignment and synergies between the existing group and acquired businesses. Meticulous integration plans and clear communication ensured a smooth transition and shows AAB's commitment to delivering unparalleled services to clients worldwide and their ability to exceed planned growth goals.
- Opulus Financial Ltd
Led by CEO Matthew Garstang, and partnering with N4 Partners in 2021, Opulus established a network of regional accountancy practices across Scotland. With support from SME Capital, Opulus acquired six practices, expanding its services and geographical reach. These acquisitions have generated revenue enhancement and strategic synergies through an efficient operating structure and technology integration. Opulus aims to offer a wide-ranging CFO solutions package, including legal, HR, and IT advisory services. Since its establishment, Opulus has grown to 160 staff, with a turnover exceeding £11 million. The firm's commitment to technology and seamless integration of teams have positioned it as a market leader in the Scottish SME sector.
- Real Good Dental
Scotland's largest dental group, Real Good Dental, has experienced remarkable growth and expansion. With over 90 practices across the UK and Ireland, Real Good Dental has become the sixth largest dental group in the UK. Their strategic acquisitions, supported by private equity and debt funding, have added over £20 million in revenue and contributed £4 million towards EBITDA. A landmark deal was the acquisition of The Enamel and Incisive Smile Group which not only provided geographical diversification but also enhanced the company's portfolio. Real Good Dental shows exceptional financial performance, strong growth trajectory, and commitment to providing quality dental services across the UK and Ireland.
Corporate Finance Team of the Year in partnership with CMS
EY Scotland's Lead Advisory team has had a remarkable year; from April 2022 to March 2023, they successfully led nine major transactions, showcasing their expertise and impact in the market. Notable deals include a fundraise for Edify, the sale of Grant Westfield to Norcros plc, the sale of Central Car Auctions to Arnold Clark Automobiles, and the sale of MacTaggart & Mickel's housebuilding division to Springfield plc. Through their collaboration with other service lines and industry specialists, EY Scotland added significant value to these transactions. Their ability to strategically articulate business messages, attract the right buyers, and deliver premium valuations has contributed to their success. With a proven track record and a focus on achieving client goals, EY Scotland's Lead Advisory team stands out within the industry.
- Hutcheon Mearns Ltd
Hutcheon Mearns Ltd have been nominated for their unique approach and outstanding achievements. Comprising professionals with diverse backgrounds in big four professional services, industry, and investment banking, the team provides holistic advice and support in transactions and corporate finance. They played a key role in significant deals such as the sale of Global E&C, DeltaTek, Aubin Group, and Eftech International Pty, delivering optimal value and addressing specific client objectives. Hutcheon Mearns' involvement extends beyond transactions as they contribute to the strategic rationale and build sustainable relationships. In just five years, they have become a disruptor in the Scottish and wider deals market.
PwC Deals Scotland practice, consisting of over 80 professionals, with expertise in Lead Advisory, Transactions, M&A tax, Digital Insights and SPA, covers industries such as energy, business services, technology and financial services. A focus on ESG and energy transition initiatives led to the expansion of their specialist ESG team, and PwC's commitment to diversity is evident through their Women in Deals network and partnerships with organisations such as 'No Diversity, No Deal.' Notable deals include supporting Wood plc in the sale of its Built Environments division, advising SSE on the divestment of its SSEN Transmission stake, aiding SSE in the acquisition of Siemens Gamesa's European renewables platform, and providing financial and tax due diligence to Heineken in the acquisition of Beavertown Brewery. These deals added value by helping companies achieve strategic objectives, improve financial flexibility and drive growth in the energy sector.
Early Stage Deal of the Year in partnership with RBC Brewin Dolphin
BGF invested £3.5m in Elasmogen as part of an £8m round, joined by Scottish National Investment Bank and Scottish Enterprise. Elasmogen, a biopharmaceutical company, focuses on developing therapeutics using its soloMER platform for solid-tumor cancers, inflammatory diseases and gut conditions. Driven by CEO Dr. Caroline Barelle's vision, Elasmogen's technology has the potential to transform patient outcomes and offers commercial opportunities. The investment will advance Elasmogen's antibody drug conjugate technology in both oncology and inflammation. BGF's strategy of supporting platform-based therapeutic businesses aligns with Elasmogen's potential for value creation and commercial partnerships. Existing management will be backed and additional senior hires are planned. The incumbent chair and institutional investors played key roles in negotiations and the £8m investment was in minority equity, led by BGF and SNIB, with Scottish Enterprise as an existing investor.
- Integrated Graphene
Integrated Graphene, a Scottish tech company, raised £3.1m in a Seed round led by Archangels in October 2020, with co-investors Par Equity, Techstart and ESM Investments. Following strong progress, the company aimed to scale up manufacturing capabilities and attract top talent to meet customer demand. The initial plan was to raise £5m in a Series A round, but they successfully secured nearly £8m in June 2022. Integrated Graphene's patented 3D graphene foam manufacturing process and potential applications attracted both Par Equity and Archangels. Par Equity invested £3.9m, Archangels invested £3.1m, and the rest came from Techstart and ESM Investments. The funds will be used to expand facilities, increase headcount, validate a biosensor pilot line, enter the North American market and develop partnerships. The Series A round achieved 160% of the target, raising a total of £7.9m enabling Integrated Graphene to weather the market storms that have been created by world events over the last 12 months.
Verlume, a Scottish subsea energy storage company, secured vital investment to support its first commercial contract and prepare for a Series B fundraise. Existing investors introduced Verlume to an institutional investor aligned with its Net Zero and innovation mission. The investment, structured as equity, totalled £7.2m. This funding will enable Verlume to seize short-term commercial opportunities, deliver the HALO subsea energy storage device and advance its technology through critical trials. The deal ensures mutual alignment of interests, best practices for operations, and measurement of emissions reduction. With this investment, Verlume aims to become a global leader in subsea energy storage and aid the transition to renewable energy.
Emerging Dealmaker of the Year in partnership with Livingston James
- Jason Cohen, PwC
Jason Cohen, Associate Director of PwC's Corporate Finance team in Glasgow, has achieved remarkable success in his career. After joining PwC's Transactions team, he excelled and secured a secondment to PwC Raise Ventures. Jason's outstanding performance led to his promotion to manager, where he successfully originated and completed deals. He later joined Jon Shelley's Corporate Finance team, where he handles mid-market M&A deals while also building relationships with early-stage businesses seeking funding. Jason's unique role and strong work ethic have earned him the trust of PwC's senior partners, resulting in his promotion to Associate Director. His key contributions include leading significant deals such as the sale of Cardowan Creameries and J&D Pierce Contracts. These deals brought value to the companies involved through strategic partnerships, enhanced product offerings, and opportunities for growth and expansion. Jason's dedication and exceptional performance have solidified his position in the deals market, and he looks forward to continuing his successful career.
- Fiona Dornan, BGF
Fiona Dornan has been instrumental in BGF Scotland's exceptional year, leading multiple key deals and supporting high-growth businesses. Notable investments include £2.3 million in Optima Partners for accelerated growth, £2 million in STC Insiso to provide problem-solving solutions, and BGF's follow-on investment in Desana. Fiona's strategic input and strong relationships with management teams have added value to the companies, enabling technology development, team expansion, and access to new customers. She also sits on the boards of Scottish Dental Care Group and Optima Partners, offering guidance. Fiona's dedication, expertise, and extensive network have contributed to BGF Scotland's success. Her efforts in empowering SMEs and fostering growth make her a stand-out dealmaker in the industry.
Funder of the Year in partnership with KPMG
- HSBC UK Bank
HSBC UK Bank has been nominated due to their exceptional support for Scottish businesses. They have funded a range of significant deals, enabling companies to achieve growth, expand internationally, and contribute to the economy. HSBC UK Bank's commitment to sustainability has also played a role, with funding supporting businesses' transition to a net-zero carbon society. Their funding initiatives were initiated through internal and external sources, demonstrating their proactive and innovative approach. Overcoming economic obstacles, they provided tailored funding solutions and expert input while their funded deals have led to improved prospects for businesses, generated economic and social benefits, and showcased HSBC UK Bank's commitment to sustainable finance.
Royal Bank of Scotland UK Financing Solutions
In the past year, RBoS has provided £1.1bn in debt finance, funding acquisitions and growth. They completed 21 transactions across various sectors, supporting both small high-growth companies and established international firms. Notable deals included providing acquisition funding to Wireless Infrastructure Group for tower assets and supporting Indigo Networks' utilities infrastructure rollout. RBoS's expertise and strong relationships enabled them to secure deals, displacing incumbent lenders in some cases. The funded businesses have better prospects for growth and strategic objectives, contributing to the Scottish economy. RBoS's support extends to sustainability initiatives and improving connectivity, such as bringing 5G to remote regions.
- Santander UK plc
Santander UK plc's Scotland & Northern Ireland Structured Finance team had a remarkable year in 2022/23, completing nine transactions. Notably, the team achieved this impressive feat with only three members. The deals included various sectors and regions, with seven transactions in Scotland and two in Northern Ireland. This included the debt-funding solution for football pitch provider Goals, enabling a buy-back from Inflexion Private Equity; Santander’s funding Real Good Dental's expansion into England to become Scotland's largest dental group; its role in Motive Offshore Group's acquisition by H2 Private Equity, and Origo Services' refinancing of bridging notes following its buyout. Other notable deals involved ITM Communications, Edwin James Group, Fintel plc, Kingsbridge Healthcare Group and MetaCompliance. Santander’s work has provided businesses with improved prospects, access to bank debt and private equity funding, and opportunities for accelerated growth.
Legal Advisor of the Year
- Addleshaw Goddard
Addleshaw Goddard has experienced exceptional growth in the past year. The Scottish corporate transactional team expanded with two new partners. Comprising 11 partners and over 30 professionals, AG's team is one of Scotland's largest, dedicated to delivering outstanding deals in the local market. AG's commitment to the Scottish market sets them apart. While being part of an international firm, their Scottish team remains focused on Scotland, resonating with clients seeking tailored services. In the 2022/23 financial year, they completed over £1 billion in deals, demonstrating expertise in M&A, equity capital markets, private equity, venture capital, and corporate real estate across industries such as oil and gas, technology, construction and more. AG's dedication extends to both established companies and high-growth startups, offering a 10-month AG Elevate program specifically designed for technology companies. Their influence reaches beyond Scotland, advising on international transactions like Sentry Doors' acquisition, Arnold Laver & Company's acquisitions, Flotation Energy's joint venture, GLAS' strategic investment, and CatSci Holdings' private equity investment.
Brodies LLP Despite the challenges of rising inflation, political uncertainty and the Ukraine crisis, Scottish dealmakers such as Brodies LLP have persevered, with the firm emerging as a standout player. Independent research by Chambers UK and Legal 500 UK has recognised Brodies as one of the most elite law firms in the UK, boasting an impressive number of top-tier rankings. Brodies' exceptional performance and reputation for delivering high-quality legal services set it apart in the market. The firm's remarkable growth, with substantial revenue and a team of nearly 800 professionals, along with strategic office expansions, demonstrate its commitment to excellence. As Brodies continues to lead the way in Scottish dealmaking, it sets the standard for legal advisory services and delivers exceptional value to its clients.
- Pinsent Masons LLP
In 2022, Pinsent Masons' legal advisors achieved a remarkable collection of deals across sectors and geographies. Most notably, they advised Ithaca Energy plc on its £2.5 billion listing on the London Stock Exchange, the largest listing in London and fifth largest in Europe that year. The complex Ithaca IPO presented various legal challenges, including cross-border considerations and intricate financial disclosures. The team's expertise enabled them to navigate these issues and ensure a successful outcome. They prioritised efficiency by setting deadlines, providing appropriate resources, and adopting innovative software. With technical prowess, commercial acumen, and a client-focused approach, Pinsent Masons' legal advisors have established themselves as stand-out experts.
Diversity & Inclusion Award in partnership with Scottish Enterprise
- Brodies LLP
At Brodies, inclusivity and diversity are the core values driving their people engagement strategy. The establishment of colleague networks, comprehensive audits and the appointment of a Head of Inclusion & Diversity have shaped Brodies' seven-point I&D approach, where leadership support, regular communication, and accountability mechanisms ensure progress. Brodies actively partners with organisations such as Childline and Black Professionals Scotland to raise awareness of diversity matters. The firm's six colleague networks have driven positive changes, influencing policies and promoting inclusive practices, and its open dialogue is facilitated through an inclusive language guide and educational seminars. Career opportunities for diverse talents are prioritised, with an I&D dashboard tracking progress and collaborations with PRIME and Rare to offer work experience and mentoring to underrepresented groups. Brodies' commitment has fostered an empowering work culture, where colleagues are valued and diversity is celebrated.
- Mint Ventures
Mint Ventures is revolutionising angel investment by actively supporting women-led businesses. They tackle three diversity challenges: low female investors (c14%), the misconception of needing high net worth, and minimal equity investment for female founders (as low as 2%). Mint offers free online training, inspiring events, and a £2,000 minimum deal size to encourage participation. With almost 50 women members, they collaborate with other angel syndicates, raising awareness and promoting gender diversity. Notably, their involvement in the Heero Technologies deal showcased their commitment. Mint investors, including first-timers, invested in the all-female team, diversifying shareholders. An all-women deal completion team further highlighted their dedication. Mint Ventures' focus on diversity and inclusion positively impacts investee companies, shareholders, and investors themselves, fostering equality and empowering women in the energy sector.
- The Scottish National Investment Bank
The Scottish National Investment Bank is driven by three missions: achieving a Just Transition to Net Zero by 2045, extending equality of opportunity through place-based investment, and harnessing innovation for Scotland's benefit. As an impact investor, the SNIB goes beyond compliance to deliver lasting benefits. Their 2022 Equality Strategy outlines outcomes to be achieved by 2025, including positive impacts on equality through investments, improved diversity within the bank's team, an inclusive work environment and equality within supplier relationships. The bank has already made progress by considering equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) throughout its investment lifecycle, refining its investment impact reporting framework, and investing £281.1 million in place-based opportunities. All invested businesses commit to fair work principles, conduct gender pay gap analyses, and promote inclusivity. The bank's internal governance and culture support these efforts, with regular reviews and programs fostering an inclusive environment. The SNIB also prioritises EDI in supplier selection, promoting Living Wage and Fair Work Principles.
Sale of the Year in partnership with Dow Schofield Watts
- Blackford Analysis Limited
Leading provider of medical imaging applications and AI algorithms in radiology, Blackford Analysis Ltd was acquired by global pharmaceutical company Bayer. The sale positions Scotland as a hub for image and AI expertise. The business had a number of approaches from interested parties early 2022, and they ran a process during the summer with The Board appointing Alantra Corporate Finance as advisers because of their radiology expertise and contacts in the market. Under Bayer's ownership, Blackford can leverage technical capabilities and clinical expertise, ensuring long-term growth and financial security. The deal was structured to suit the broad investor base - there were some 150 investors at completion including 80 Archangels investors who had benefited from EIS over the period of the investment. In addition, all of the staff at completion benefited financially.
Codeplay, a leading software and tools provider, recently sold to a prominent US chipmaker for $185 million USD. Foresight Group had two key objectives for the sales process: to maximise returns for the investors in Foresight funds invested in Codeplay and to ensure the purchaser was best placed to continue Codeplay’s growth trajectory. Both objectives were met, in fact the results exceeded expectations. External advisors, including Acuity Advisors, Goodwin Procter and MBM Commercial played a vital roles in the transaction. The four-year collaboration between Codeplay and Foresight, resulting in one of Scotland and the UK’s largest technology exits – an exciting and important transaction for the UK technology sector. It reinforces the importance of local venture investment and how this can enable smaller companies to become key players in an ever increasingly important tech eco-system.
- Grant Westfield
The sale of Grant Westfield, a leading waterproof bathroom wall panel manufacturer in the UK, presented a unique opportunity for investors. Majority shareholder Iain MacDonald sought new ownership to fuel the company's growth and with the help of advisory firm EY, a buyer was found who would retain the Multipanel brand, drive innovation, maintain market leadership, and provide growth opportunities. Norcros plc, a UK listed company specialising in premium bathroom products, acquired Grant Westfield through a competitive sales process. The sale process considered the best outcomes for management, employees, and stakeholders, ensuring the existing management team's retention and the headquarters' location. Under Norcros' ownership, Grant Westfield gains access to new markets, such as major UK housebuilders and South Africa, while capitalising on Norcros' resources for strategic acquisitions.
- J&D Pierce (Contracts) Ltd
The UK’s leading steelwork contractor, J&D Pierce, was acquired by Swedish investment company Storskogen Group in June 2022. The sale marked Storskogen's largest acquisition in the UK and its first in Scotland. The decision to sell J&DP was driven by several key factors. Firstly, Derek Pierce, the Managing Director and principal owner, felt it was the right time to transition out of the business gradually. Secondly, he acknowledged the need for additional expertise and a broader senior team to achieve the company's next growth targets. Lastly, Derek saw the immense market opportunities in sectors such as logistics and renewable energy infrastructure and wanted to leverage them with the right partner. PwC played a vital role in facilitating the sale, and Jon Shelley was instrumental in identifying Storskogen as the ideal partner. The acquisition promises a prosperous future for J&DP, with strategic support and potential for further expansion.
SME Deal of the Year
- Be-IT Resourcing
Be-IT Resourcing, a leading IT and Technology recruiter in Scotland, completed a successful Management Buyout (MBO) deal. Led by CEO Nikola Kelly, the MBO Team orchestrated the alignment of ownership with operational leadership to secure the company's long-term growth. The MBO provided continuity, incentivized key management, and ensured certainty over the strategic direction of Be-IT. The deal, backed by external debt from ThinCats, allowed existing shareholders to roll equity into the new company. With projected prospects including geographic expansion and diversification of services, Be-IT aims to become a prominent UK recruiter. The MBO deal's success lies in its ability to provide a strong platform for sustained growth.
The Pelion Management Buyout in October 2022 demonstrates a management team and investor who recognised the opportunity to take an under-valued Scottish business and provide it with the necessary investment and direction to create positive financial and real- world outcomes. The tech firm secured significant growth equity funding from Scottish Equity Partners (SEP). enabling further investment in product development, sales and customer support. It provides Pelion with the opportunity to build a world-class technology business headquartered in Glasgow that will create significant value for all involved.
- Lothian Broadband Group
The Scottish National Investment Bank invested £20m in Lothian Broadband to expand fibre broadband in rural Scotland. An additional £20m was provided through a loan note to accelerate the build-out of a highland fibre network. The investment aims to connect 35k premises in Fife, the Highlands, and East Lothian with gigabit-speed fibre by 2023, with a larger goal of 100k premises by 2025. The deal leverages existing contractor relationships and supports Scottish supply chain companies, minimising dilution through the use of a loan note instrument instead of equity investment. It addresses digital exclusion, diversity and inclusion by targeting both affluent and fragile areas, with a commitment to connect 10k premises in lower deciles of SIMD.
- Optima Partners
Optima Partners, an Edinburgh-based data science and transformation consultancy, secured a significant minority equity investment of £2.3 million from BGF. The funding will help Optima Partners scale its business, invest in its workforce and advance its data science solutions. The deal came at a crucial moment as Optima Partners experienced strong revenue growth and planned an aggressive recruitment strategy to meet increasing customer demand in the data and analytics field. The partnership with BGF, known for supporting high-growth businesses, will enable Optima Partners to double its headcount and create skilled jobs, contributing to the Scottish economy. The deal's success was rooted in a two-year relationship between the companies, showcasing the value of long-term connections in the Scottish market.
Transformational Deal of the Year in partnership with PIB Insurance Brokers
Orbex, a Scottish-based company, has developed a low carbon rocket for launching small satellites to Low Earth Orbit. The Scottish National Investment Bank invested £17.8m alongside existing investors into Orbex to complete rocket development and establish a spaceport facility in northern Scotland. Timing was critical as the company required capital to sustain operations, and the new funding enables Orbex to continue this rocket development and construct the Space Hub Sutherland, targeting a 2024 launch. By 2030, they expect a turnover of £300m, launching over 20 rockets annually. This award-winning deal positions Scotland as a leading space nation, boosting innovation, employment and community transformation.
- Flotation Energy
TEPCO's acquisition of Flotation has been hailed as transformative for the Scottish renewables sector. Flotation, founded in 2018, needed substantial backing to develop its floating offshore wind projects. After considering alternative strategies, a sale process was deemed the most suitable, leading to TEPCO emerging as the successful bidder. The deal, structured as a share sale funded by TEPCO, was critical as it enabled Flotation to demonstrate financial credibility for its project bids. Under TEPCO's ownership, Flotation has secured exclusive agreements for two major projects, expanded its global presence, and aims to become an independent power producer. The acquisition ensures employee retention and has fostered a collaborative working relationship, driving Flotation's growth and contributing to the fight against climate change.
- Ithaca Energy
2022 was a transformational year for Ithaca Energy. The group completed three significant acquisitions, positioning them as one of the largest independent oil and gas companies in the UK. This included the acquisition of Summit Exploration and Production Limited, Marubeni Oil and Gas UK Limited and the transformational acquisition of Siccar Point Energy. This led to their successful listing on the London Stock Exchange, the largest UK IPO of 2022. The deal was funded through equity investors as part of the IPO, providing access to capital for future growth. With holdings in key UK fields and undeveloped discoveries in the UK North Sea, Ithaca Energy is well-positioned for value creation. The IPO attracts offers benefits to employees and stakeholders, supporting the company's growth aspirations.