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Exeter dealmakers Isca Ventures, Michelmores and Ashfords top Experian corporate finance activity league tables

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: January 08, 2014

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The Isca Ventures team: Matt Eves, Stuart Crebo, Mark Champion and Guy Eggleton

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Exeter-headquartered advisory firms Isca Ventures, Michelmores and Ashfords have topped the 2013 South West Deal Review, reinforcing the city’s status as the hub of corporate finance activity in the region.

The league tables, independently produced by Experian, were based on the larger completed merger and acquisition transactions across the South West, incorporating the Bath, Bristol, Dorchester, Exeter, Taunton, Truro, Torquay and Plymouth postcode areas.

Isca Ventures, with offices in Exeter and Bristol, topped the corporate finance adviser table in 2013. Deals completed by the team included the £10m management buy-out of Exeter-based baby sleep product makers Gro Group, and the £7.9m Exeter Chiefs 2020 Bond used to finance the next phase of development at Sandy Park.

Isca Ventures were also involved in a £6m fund-raising for Devon Waste Management, the Business Growth Fund’s first investment in the region – £2.5m for Sub-10 Systems – and the Plc company sale of United Roofing Products Ltd.

“We have certainly seen a general upturn in corporate finance activity over 2013 and this looks set to continue into 2014,” said Mark Champion, partner at Isca Ventures LLP. “We were delighted to receive this recognition from an independent body and it is particularly pleasing the transactions we were able to successfully complete were across our core services, being company sales, management buy-outs, fundraisings and acquisitions.”

Michelmores topped the corporate legal adviser table for 2013, with Ashfords second, Foot Anstey claiming fifth place and OTB Eveling sixth.

Stephen Morse, partner at Michelmores LLP, said: “We are delighted to be top of the league table in this year’s report. This reflects the hard work by the team on the back of an increase in volume of transactions. We continue to enjoy a strong pipeline of transactions across a range of sectors in 2014.”

Santander was top of the 2013 corporate debt provider league table, closely followed by Lloyds Banking Group and HSBC.

Julian Alexander, regional director for Santander Corporate & Commercial, said: “I am proud that we are able to support ambitious local SME businesses to grow and thrive through the supply of tailored financial support. We recognise the importance of these businesses in generating the future prosperity of our region and the crucial role that banks have to play in helping them to achieve this. I am delighted we have been able to increase our commitment to businesses across the South West in 2013 and we look forward to continuing our investment and support in 2014.”

The largest reported transactions within the region included the £38m refinancing/growth funding for Exeter-based Eagle One Ltd and the £38m purchase of a substantial shareholding in Exeter-based Flybe Group Plc by institutional investors.

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