Deals Review – March 2016

Friday 11th March 2016

In partnership with the Business Desk, several of our experts will comment on significant deals every month. For March, corporate solicitor Duncan Firman, comments on Premier Farnell’s sale of Akron Brass and the outlook for the Leeds-based company.

It’s certainly interesting times for Premier Farnell. The sale of its US safety and emergency response equipment business, Akron Brass, was one of the standout deals agreed in February. The firm originally announced its intention to dispose of this division in September last year and the transaction will complete at the end of March, subject to shareholder approval.

The sale to US global fluidics systems developer and manufacturer IDEX Corporation, for £153.8 million, represents a refocusing of the company’s offering towards its core electronics components marketing and distribution business. 2015 was difficult for Premier Farnell, which lost one third of its value in a three-month period and was demoted from the FTSE 250, resulting in chief executive Laurence Bains leaving the company.

Mark Whiteling was brought in as interim chief executive to steady the ship. Earlier this week, the company announced the appointment of a permanent chief executive in Jos Opdeweegh, who joins from Neovia Logistics, with Mr Whiteling assuming the role of deputy chief executive.

One of the company’s main claims to fame is that it makes the Raspberry Pi, which is the UK’s top selling computer. The £30 credit card-sized board has been designed to make computer science more accessible to children. The latest model – the Raspberry Pi 3 – was launched at the end of February. This, unsurprisingly, follows the Raspberry Pi 2, which – following its launch last year – saw a jump in sales for Premier Farnell.

Premier Farnell is a long standing and important Yorkshire-based employer and a feather in the cap of the region’s high-tech industry. With the new senior appointments and the launch of the Raspberry Pi 3, the outlook for 2016 seems to be much more positive.