CMA gives green light for Peninsula acquisition of Croner Group

13 May 2016

The Competition and Markets Authority has given Peninsula Business Services the green light to complete its acquisition of Croner Group. The integration of the Leicestershire based employment law firm will add 270 staff to Peninsula’s ranks and marks, according to Peninsula managing director Peter Done, a landmark deal in the industry.

With revenues of £116 million, Peninsula Business Services is one of the largest health and safety and employment law consultancies in the UK. In December last year the firm – owned by Betfred founders Fred and Peter Done – announced that it had reached an agreement to acquire counterpart Croner Group from Dutch listed company Wolters Kluwer.

The deal sparked interest from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), as the two firms operate in a similar marketplace and with relatively similar offerings. Manchester based Peninsula however focuses on SMEs and mid-sized clients (estimated to be 28,000 across the UK) across the public, private and not-for-profit sectors, while Croner focuses on larger organisations. “This is an exciting acquisition which complements Peninsula’s existing business, in that both organisations focus on different sectors of the marketplace,” said Done, Group Managing Director of Peninsula Business Services, on 10 December 2015, when he unveiled the transaction.

Peninsula acquires Croner Group

Given the potential impact the joining of forces could have on market dynamics, the CMA decided to review the transaction and conducted a merger inquiry, with invitation to comment opened to any interested parties and a consultation process. Following a detailed assessment, which included a comprehensive review of the marketplace and the competitive landscape in which both companies operate, the CMA on Monday 9th May 2016 decided to clear the completed acquisition. “We are delighted that the CMA has made the decision that this acquisition does not give rise to lessening of competition in our marketplace and will not refer the acquisition to any further investigation,” says Done.

With the green light in the pocket, Peninsula and Croner Group have started work on integration plans. Croner, based at Hinckley, Leicestershire, will continue to run as a standalone business within the Peninsula Group. “We look forward to developing the Croner brand alongside that of Peninsula, investing in and taking the company forward as part of our broader Group.” The Croner tax fee protection business will merge with Peninsula’s existing Taxwise business and rebrand as Croner Taxwise.

Alan Price, Group Operations Director of Peninsula, says: “Our aim is to take the best of both operating models and propositions to create two enhanced market leading offerings across both brands in the SME and corporate sector.”

Wolters Kluwer, meanwhile, will continue to deliver its expert information solutions under the Croner and Croner-I product brands in the UK. “Along with the software and information services offered by Wolters Kluwer, we can now provide a one stop shop for any size organisation,” comments Done.

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SQW Group purchases property-based regeneration consultancy

19 April 2019

UK consulting firm SQW Group has completed its first acquisition since it completed a management buyout in January 2019. BBP Regeneration joins the company having collaborated with SQW for more than 20 years.

Established in 1983, SQW Group now operates all over the world. Comprising SQW, Oxford Innovation, Oxford Innovation Services – one of the UK’s leading innovation centre operators – and Oxford Investment Opportunities Network, the organisation’s origins can be traced to Britain’s two ancient university cities: Oxford, through Oxford Trust founders, Martin and Audrey Wood, and Cambridge, through SQW’s work in producing The Cambridge Phenomenon.

The consultancy specialises in public policy, working with entities from the public, private and voluntary sectors to research, develop, implement and evaluate social and economic development interventions. It now employs over 250 people across regional offices in London, Oxford and Edinburgh, and provides business support to over 4,000 entrepreneurs and small businesses each year. At the start of 2019, SQW secured its independence in a management buyout, advised on by M&A experts from Liberty Corporate Finance and Penningtons Manches.

SQW Group purchases property-based regeneration consultancy

SQW has strengthened its position as a provider of services across the business spectrum with the acquisition of BBP Regeneration. Founded in 1994, the consulting firm specialises in land and property-based regeneration and growth schemes, and is a leading social and economic development consultancy. 

The two firms first worked together over 20 years ago, when SQW and BBP collaborated to develop the first Regional Economic Strategy for the South East. More recently, they developed an economic strategy for Thanet and are now working together in locations stretching from Cwmbran via Oxfordshire to London.

With the addition of BBP, SQW can now provide an integrated advisory service for organisations developing property schemes which deliver economic benefit to their local area. By joining SQW, meanwhile, BBP hopes to further enhance its ability to support clients in delivering property and place-making ambitions. 

Speaking about the deal, SQW CEO David Crichton-Miller commented, “The UK more than ever needs solutions to the challenges of places – of high streets under threat, of meeting housing delivery targets, and of both economically over-successful and economically challenged towns and cities – and the combination of SQW and BBP is uniquely suited to developing those solutions. [This deal] brings together critical and complementary services relating to places to serve our clients with leading edge and practical advice.”

Andy Smith, Director of BBP Regeneration, added, “SQW shares with BBP the same values of seeking to provide outstanding, practical, real world advice that helps get buildings built and places developed.  We greatly look forward to the opportunities that come from joining our two organisations together.”