Investors set to snap up East Anglian companies in post-Covid bounce

Alison Mackway, managing director of Wrightway Health

Alison Mackway of occupational health firm Wrightway Health which was snapped up in a £4.5m takeover - Credit: Wrightway Health

A flurry of investors are poised to swoop on Norfolk and Suffolk firms as the region starts to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic, a corporate finance expert has predicted.

Even amid the crisis in 2020, East Anglia was a hive of activity for mergers and acquisitions, says financial firm Lovewell Blake, which is based in the region.

It expects East Anglia to be just as active this year - with a "busy pipeline" of deals being done.

Matt Crawley, who heads up the firm's corporate finance team, said there was little sign that the coronavirus crisis is dampening down appetite for the sale and purchase of businesses.

The firm advised on 50 cases last year, when a number of high-value deals were sealed in sectors including food and drink, motor dealerships, occupational health, engineering, care, leisure and hospitality.

Among the deals brokered by the team in 2020 were the sales of occupational health specialist firm Wrightway Health for £4.5m, and of care homes business Progress Pathways near Thetford to national operator Achieve Together.

Wrightway is based in Norwich and has clinics across Great Yarmouth, Kings Lynn, Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and Cambridge.

‘’When the Covid-19 pandemic first hit, there was uncertainty as to how mergers and acquisitions activity would play out, but over time it is proving to be more and more resilient for both buyers and sellers,” said Mr Crawley.  

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“Clearly some sectors are having a better time than others – but we are seeing activity across a broad spectrum.

“As well as closing several sales mandates during the year, we have conducted strong strategic acquisitions and dozens of due diligence assignments for private equity houses, national and international consolidators. 

“As we have moved into 2021 there are a great number of conversations taking place, providing indications that this year is going to continue to be extremely active.  

“As the region starts to emerge from the pandemic once the vaccination programme is rolled out more widely, I predict that the flurry of activity will continue, as investors seek to capitalise on any post-Covid bounce by investing and acquiring businesses before the growth curve.’’