$10b in a year: The biggest secret deals in business
From a Townsville physio centre being bought for $2m to big Brisbane miners paying $50m for overseas assets, Queensland notched up $10bn worth of mergers and acquisition deals in the last year quietly impacting thousands of workers.
According to accountants and business advisory firm Pitcher Partners, Bain Capital's $3.5bn takeover of Virgin Australia took the lion's share of the $10bn disclosed deals last year, 12 per cent less that the $11.5bn in 2019.
Overall, there were 265 deals announced last year, a 14 per cent drop on 2019 with technology, media and telecommunications (52 deals), energy, mining and utilities (37) and agriculture (19) which showed the sharpest increase in transactions.
Pitcher Partners partner in charge of corporate finance Warwick Face said it was a "tale of two halves".
Transaction volumes in the first half of 2020 fell by 36 per cent compared to the previous six months while in the second half climbed 154 - a 40 per cent increase.
"The up-down-up nature of the deals in the last 18 months has largely mirrored our lives as we all rode the roller coaster of COVID-19," Mr Face said.
"Technology is very strong in Queensland (up 18 per cent) and obviously mining but there was a massive drop in leisure from 41 transactions in 2019 to 18 last year.
"It is hard to remember a more interesting time in deal markets, as at the moment the uptick in late 2020 is carrying strongly into 2021.
"The consensus view at the moment seems to be that with a vaccine on the way, record stimulus and low interest rates, the upward roller coaster ride will continue."
For the seventh year running, interstate buyers led the acquisition of Queensland businesses with 63 deals, comprising 36 per cent fall on 112 deals in 2019.
The number of international buyers slightly decreased again in 2020, with only 41 Queensland businesses transitioning to overseas ownership.
Some of the notable deals last year were:
TECHNOLOGY, MEDIA, TELECOMMUNICATIONS
* Occupational health and safety software developer SafetyCulture made its first acquisition for $29 in Sydney-based start-up EdApp which is a mobile training solution app.
* US based Five Elms Capital acquired a stake in On Brand Investments (trading as Outfit.io) for about $20m.
* ASX-listed Spirit Technology Solutions continued its acquisition strategy into 2020 with five national acquisitions, two of which were Queensland businesses. The $15m acquisition of Intalock Technologies and the $14m acquisition of Gold Coast-based Voice Print Data Group.
ENERGY, MINING, UTILITIES
* CIMIC's 50 per cent divestment of its Brisbane arm Thiess to UK based Elliott Advisors for about $1.9bn.
* Queensland's Aeris Resources acquired Cracow Gold Mine from Evolution Mining for about $75m and it also sold Straits Gold to GBM Resources for $3m, retaining a 7.4 per cent stake in the project
* Aurelia Metals acquired Dargues Gold Mine for $200m with plans for future investment to enhance the mine's longevity along with further exploration.
* Brisbane-based Orocobre acquired Canadian headquartered Advantage Lithium Corp, a resource company specialising in the acquisition, exploration, and development of lithium properties for about $50m.
PHARMACEUTICALS / HEALTH
* Bowen Hills-based Healthia Limited acquired three physiotherapy clinics in Queensland and one podiatry clinic in South Australia for $5m. It acquired the North Queensland Physiotherapy Centre for $2m and the Physio Clinic which has three locations in South Australia for $2m. It also paid $5m for 12 clinics of The Foot and Ankle Clinic in Melbourne and regional Victoria and $44m for the Optical Company which consists of a number of optometry practices throughout Australia.
* Quadrant PE divested its interest in QScan for $735m
* US-based Velocity Vehicle Group paid $108m for 15 Daimler Truck and Bus dealerships from AP Eagers for $108m
* Victorian-based GUD Holdings acquired the Automotive Components and Accessories Division of AMA Group Limited based on the Gold Coast for $70m.
* National Tyre & Wheel acquired Tyres4U Limited for about $49m.
* Corporate Travel Management acquired Travel and Transport for $275m
* British investor Guy Hands $710m acquisition of Brisbane-based Consolidated Pastoral Company, a cattle station operator, from Terra Firma Capital Partners.
* Queensland-based AAM Investment Group kicked the year off with four acquisitions all in the first half of the year. They were Sunshine and Round Cowal - a family-operated mixed farming property for $16m; Terrick Terrick Station - a mixed farming business sold by the Pearson family; and Jordan Lane Poultry and Jervois Poultry - both based in South Australia.
* Bunderra Cattle Co, owned by the Pickersgill family from near Rockhampton, buys the NT's Murranji Station and 12500 cattle for $23m.
* Based in Cloncurry the McMillan Pastoral Company acquired the Wollogorang and Wentworth Cattle Operation Stations of TBG Agri Holdings for $53m.
* Credit Corp Group paid $160m for Brisbane-based Collection House's debt ledger.
* Merchant Place Investment's acquisition of Fortitude Valley-based Pareto Phone for $17m.