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Deals done and awards won as year ends with airport bid; Here we conclude our Welsh business review off the year by looking at the six months from July to December.

JULY Independent television production company Boomerang announced it was de-listing from the London Stock Exchange in a deal which saw the existing management team joining forces with one of the sector's best known executives, Lorraine Heggessey, in a new business.

The deal was finalised at a general meeting of shareholders later that month. The Cardiff-based business is now trading as Boom Pictures.

The company that operates Wales' gas infrastructure was sold to a Chinese consortium in a PS645m deal.

Wales& West Utilities, which owns the gas network across the whole of Wales and South West England was sold to a consortium led by Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings (CKI) The deal saw no change to the firms managing team, led by its chief executive Graham Edwards.

The deal also saw the consortium take on a PS1.3bn debt, valuing Wales & West at PS1.96bn. It marks the first major investment by CKI this year, and follows its PS4.8bn investment in Northumbrian Water last year.

AUGUST Usk-based Unite Technologies, which specialises in monitoring technology for data centres was acquired by Chicago-based Panduit, Unite Technologies (formerly Sinetica). It has developed an international blue-chip client base, specialising in energy management, access control, security and environmental monitoring solutions within data centres. The value of the deal has not been disclosed, but is understood to be slightly north of PS6m.

The acquisition was the first made by privately-owned Panduit outside of the US.

The Welsh Government's investment bank subsidiary Finance Wales had around a 45% equity stake in the business following three investments. The deal marked its most profitable exit to date with a 2.4 times return on investment.

Gary Partridge, director of corporate finance for Wales and the West of England with PwC, acted for Unite on the deal.

Legals on the deal were conducted by Cardiff law firm Berry Smith.

SEPTEMBER The commercial arm of Glyndwr University was named as the fastest-growing indigenous business in Wales.

Wrexham-based Glyndwr Innovations, which provides a wide range of business solutions to a growing client base, took the top spot in this year's Wales Fast Growth 50 project after seeing its turnover from 2008-10 grow by 494% - up from PS284,000 to PS1.68m.

This year the 50 companies generated a turnover of PS3bn and between them have created 9,000 jobs.

This was due in part to the presence in the list of Cardiff-based motor insurance group Admiral which employs 5,000 in Cardiff, Newport and Swansea and has an annual turnover of more than PS2bn.

However, even excluding the impact of Admiral, the other 49 companies generated sales of PS815m in 2011 and have created 2,000 jobs - with a significant, wider impact on their respective supply chains.

In terms of geographical representation the largest number of firms in this year's league table are in Cardiff, with 13.

The PS2.5bn Business Growth Fund (BGF) has made its first investment in Wales following a PS5.4m equity deal with hi-tech industrial scaffolding services firm Swanbridge Hire and Sales (SHS).

The investment in the high-growth Barry-based business will support its next growth phase - which will see it create more than 100 jobs over the next three years as it aims to double turnover.

The BGF, which is backed by a syndicate of banks including Barclays and Standard Chartered, was set up by the Government to back growthfocused SMEs with equity investments ranging from PS2m to PS10m.

Its first deal in Wales took its investment deals across the UK to 17 with combined value of about PS80m. The average deal value to date has been about PS4.7m.

The investment was managed for BGF by its director for Wales and the South West of England Paul Oldham and colleagues Ned Dorbin and Alex Garfitt.

OCTOBER Buy As You View was sold to turnaround specialists Rutland Partners in a multi-millionpound deal.

The mid-market private equity firm acquired the Bridgend-based company from a syndicate of banks for PS33.1m, in an all-equity transaction. Buy As You View sells a range of electrical and household goods to a customer base of more than 75,000 and employs about 550 staff, 300 of them in Wales.

The company has built its business through weekly-repayments on hire purchase and has an annual turnover of about PS75m.

Buy As You View, which marks its 40th anniversary this year, was founded as Just Rentals in the Rhondda Valley by Bernard Jones and Gerald Coleman in 1972. It has expanded in the past 10 years into the Midlands, Scotland and across the north of England.

It was confirmed that the Welsh Government's new tourism strategy would be overseen by-Dr Manon Williams.

Dr Williams, a former private secretary in Wales to Prince Charles and a head of public affairs with BBC Wales, took up a new role as the Welsh Government's chief executive of-ficer for tourism and marketing for Wales.

Dr Williams will lead the implementation of the new tourism strategy which will be launched next March. She had been a member of an external panel advising the Welsh Government's tourism team.

NOVEMBER Former chief executive of Principality Building Society, Peter Griffiths was confirmed as the CEO of Sainsbury's Bank.

Tenby-born Mr Griffiths stood down from Principality after 10 years at the helm in September.

Mr Griffiths was succeeded as CEO of the Principality by Graeme Yorston, who was previously managing director of the Cardiff-based mutual.

During his time there, Mr Griffiths oversaw expansion - with it going from the 13th largest building society in the UK to the seventh, while increasing assets from PS2.2bn to PS6.4bn.

In 2010 he was appointed OBE for services to the financial services industry. Prior to Principality, he had senior roles at Morgan Chambers, a boutique consultancy and was head of commercial services at NatWest Group IT.

The best in Welsh business and entrepreneurship were honoured at the annual Western Mail and Institute of Welsh Affairs Business Awards at a ceremony at Cardiff City Hall The winners were: Company of the Year, turnover less than PS10m sponsored by ACCA Wales, Comtek Network Systems UK; New Start Up Company of the Year sponsored by Gocompare.

com, Hydro Industries; Go Green Environmental Award sponsored by the Waterloo Foundation, Nuaire; Creative Marketing Award sponsored by Orchard Media and Events Group, Peter's Foods; The Best Use of Foreign Languages in Business Award sponsored by CILT Cymru, The National Centre for Languages in Wales, Eriez Magnetics Europe; Training & Developing Staff Award sponsored by University of Glamorgan Commercial Services, Arriva Trains Wales; Young Achiever sponsored by RWE npower renewables. Dale Williams founder of Yolk Recruitment; Entrepreneur of the Year sponsored by We Fight Any, Julian Baines chief executive of EKF Diagnostics; and Company of the Year turnover of more than PS10m, sponsored by Cardiff School of Management, Cardiff Metropolitan University, IQE.

DECEMBER Wales' output gap with the UK narrowed last year according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

The Gross Value Added (GVA) figures, which measure total value of goods and services produced, show that per capita GVA in Wales in 2011 was 75.2% of the UK average, up from 74% in the previous year.

However, Wales' per capita GVA remains the lowest of any nation or region of the UK.

Per head, people in Wales generated PS15,696 of GVA in 2010, compared to a UK-wide figure of PS20,873.

Although the 1.9% increase in per capita GVA in Wales was the third highest in the UK, it remains behind the North East of England's figure of 75.9% of the UK average.

London had the highest percapita figure, with the capital generating PS35,638 in 2010.

Supermarket chain Iceland was confirmed as the biggest revenue-generating business in Wales - in our 2012 Top 300 publication.

For the fourth year running the Flintshire-based retailer tops the list having generated sales of PS2.61bn in its last financial year to the end of March 2012.

Iceland is followed in the top five by motor insurance group Admiral, GE Aircraft Engines Services, Welsh Water and Swalec - based on the various operations of its parent company SSE in Wales.

This year's Top 300 firms have a combined turnover of PS27.1bn - up on last year's PS24.7bn.

Collectively the firms employ 123,509 - although this also includes staff in other parts of the UK in some cases - like Cardiff-headquartered motor insurance group Admiral. Following its promotion to the Premier League Swansea City AFC is now the biggest sporting business in Wales - and makes the Top 300 for the first time.

The business was ranked 91st in this year's league table.

It is bigger than the Welsh Rugby Union both on turnover and pre-tax profit - although the WRU in its last financial year posted its highest ever revenue figure and is ranked 95th, up eight places on its position in 2011.

It was also confirmed that Welsh Government had entered into an exclusive "due diligence" agreement with TBI, the UK airports wing of Spanish giant Abertis to acquire Cardiff Airport Subject to the satisfactory completion of financial, legal and value-for-money considerations, the Welsh Government will buy the airport.


Peter Griffiths was confirmed as the CEO of Sainsbury's Bank

Award winners at the Institute of Welsh Affairs &Western Mail Business Awards held in November at Cardiff City Hall

From left: Chris Burgess, (Grant Thornton); Paul Smith, (SHS), and Paul Oldham, (BGF), after September's equity investment

Picture: Peter Bolter (c)
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Copyright 2012 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 29, 2012
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