07 June 2016

Meridian shortlsted for the Solent Deals Awards 2016

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A record year completing 12 lead advisory transactions and 4 private equity deals totalling well in excess of £100m, Meridian are proud to be finalists in all 5 of the relevant categories for this year’s Solent Deals Awards.

Now in it's 9th year, the Business Magazine brings together high profile and respected professional firms across the Solent to celebrate their successes over the last year at their annual Deals Awards event.

Meridian are sponsoring the 'Lawyer of the Year' category and we wish finalistsMark Shepherd and Sean Wright (Shoosmiths), Dean Drew (Irwin Mitchell), Nick Gross (Coffin Mew), Sean Kelly (Pitmans) the very best of luck. All of the nominees have great reputations locally and are recognised as leading lawyers in the Solent Region.

We look forward to seeing familiar and new faces alike at St Mary's Stadium, Southampton on Thursday 9th June 2016 - good luck to all the nominees in their respective categories!

Corporate Finance Team of the Year - Meridian

Meridian are fiercely independent and work closely with a number of other local professional advisors on the South Coast, generating more deal flow across more Solent firms than any other advisory firm.

The majority of the transactions were based on the South Coast and additionally Meridian have created an investment portfolio of 16 investments, 8 of which are Solent based. Meridian directors, Mike Barcia and Darren Thompson also sit on the Boards of a number of Solent based companies.

Now in their 15th year Meridian have demonstrated that they are the most prominent CF lead advisory firm in the Solent region.

Dealmaker of the Year – Darren Thompson

Darren has been active in the Solent CF market since 2003 and has helped Meridian become the go to CF house in the region. Darren has had another prolific year of deal making, completing 11 transactions as lead advisor and venture capital investor in the period involving banks, other venture capital firms, HNW’s and listed acquirers. He sits as an NED advisor for a number of Solent based Boards and his deal-making skills are evident in both the cross-border and domestic transactions that he has undertaken as well as the early stage portfolio of investments that he manages, which are extremely ‘hands-on’.

He has been instrumental in building an investment portfolio of 16 investments, 8 of which are Solent based. In particular, the period has seen an amazing performance amongst the majority of the maturing portfolio of the early stage tech fund that he manages, including truly outstanding performances from portfolio companies Blis and LoveHolidays, where Darren sat on the Board from early stage/ start up.

Corporate Finance Advisor of the Year and Dealmaker of the Year – Michael Barcia

Michael is one of the South Coast’s best-known advisors – having been active in the Solent region for 19 years, the last 14 of these heading up Meridian Corporate Finance. Michael has previously won the award on two occasions and has had another stellar year completing six deals in the qualifying period, of which four were in the £15m-£25m bracket. Headline deals include the 23.5 Degrees fundraise and the CEGA MBO.

Michael’s clients' recommendations indicate the very highest level of services and quality of advice given to South Coast Businesses. He consistently produces results, driving Meridian to a deal success rate of over 80% since inception and over 90% since August 2009, during which the team have completed over 80 transactions.

Deal of the Year (under £25m) – Fundraise for Starbucks franchisee 23.5 Degrees Limited

Meridian advised 23.5 Degrees Limited, Starbucks' first global franchise partner, on their £15.3m growth funding package from RBS and private equity firm Connection Capital. This is a stand out deal for the Solent Region which involved liaising directly with Starbucks HQ in both the UK and Seattle, USA.

This deal involved local banking, local law firms, locally based due diligence specialists, a PE firm (Connection Capital) and an iconic global brand. This marks a significant shift in direction for Starbucks and the professional community in the Solent Region were instrumental in this.

Deal of the Year (under £25m) – Management Buy-Out of aap3 Limited

Iconic local brand and ex-Southampton FC sponsors, aap3, have been a leading regional firm for many years, providing IT services and consultancy to blue chip customers in Europe and the US.

Recognising the opportunities available to the company to provide market leading services to both its existing client base and new clients across Europe and the US the management team approached the shareholders in Q1 2015 to discuss acquiring the company. After securing funding from Lloyds in the UK and FGI in the US the business underwent its MBO in Q3 2015 and in the six months since has seen profits treble. The company is now poised to capitalise on growth opportunities under the support of its funding partners.

Private Equity Firm of the Year – Meridian

Meridian hold 16 minority equity stakes in a variety of businesses. The period has seen an amazing performance amongst the majority of the maturing portfolio including a modest exit and truly outstanding performances from Blis (global tech media player that has just closed a $25m international investment round) and LoveHolidays which has outperformed every other online travel agency (from start-up investment to the 9th largest travel company in the UK in less than 5 years). Darren sat on the Boards of both Blis and LoveHolidays from early stage/ inception.

Over half of the investments are based in the Solent region, which is testament to the Meridian’s regional impact.