27th April 2021, 11am – 3pm
Dates for Upcoming events included in the Annual Pass:
- Tuesday 27th April 2021 – Results roadshow
- Monday 10th May 2021
- Tuesday 11th May – Mello Energy
- Monday 24th May 2021
- Monday 7th June 2021
- Tuesday 15th June – Investment Trusts & Funds
- Monday 21st June 2021
- Monday 19th July 2021
Programme for Tuesday 27th April
- 11.00am Mello Welcome & Company presentation by Avation
- 11.30am RBG Holdings
- 12.10pm Company presentation by Gaming Realms
- 12.50pm Results round up (Part 1) with Mark Bentley @marben100
- 1.00pm Company presentation by Belvoir Group – Dorian and Louise have responded to your questions from MelloMonday’s webinar below:
- 2.00pm Company presentation by Trident Royalties
- 2.50pm Results round up (Part 2) with Paul Scott
Company Presentation – Belvoir Group plc
Belvoir Group PLC – UK-wide property franchise group
Founded in 1995 and listed on AIM since 2012, Belvoir Group (BLV.L) operates a multi-brand property franchise network of 439 offices delivering residential lettings and sales, and property-related financial services across the UK. Managing over 71,500 properties, Belvoir reported profit before tax up 20% to £6.7m in 2020 and marked its 24th year of uninterrupted profit growth.
Dorian and Louise have responded to your questions from MelloMonday’s webinar below:
Dorian, I saw that your rival TPFG recently bought Hunters. Were you involved in the process? Do you think TPFG overpaid?
We have had several opportunities to do a similar deal with Hunters in recent years including in Q4 2020. There were a number of issues that held us back. The Hunters share price, against which they wanted a sizeable premium, was untested as they had never raised any money and there was very little liquidity in their shares. Also, over 50% of the 2019 EBITDA stemmed from their 10 corporate-owned estate agency offices which would be difficult to franchise out given the sort of multiples paid for a listed business without a considerable write-off. Furthermore, we were not comfortable with the model under which Hunters had converted independent agencies to Hunters.
Only time will tell whether TPFG overpaid for Hunters. What we do know is that at a multiple of 4x, our acquisitions of Lovelle and Nicholas Humphreys will be earnings accretive and there are much lower risks involved.
Property Franchise Group presented full year results today together with a major development on financial advice support for franchisees. How does the Belvoir programme compare with this?
The TPFG tie-in with LSL is different to our financial services business model. We acquired two FS companies, in each case retaining the main driver of the business. These businesses provided a central team incorporating a call centre and a UK-wide network of independent financial advisers, which we have been able to grow from 123 adviser in 2018 to 212 advisers as of today. This model is not so dissimilar to our franchise model in so much as it is based on self-employed individuals supported by a central office team. All our advisers are contracted to Brook, our FS subsidiary, and we operate under the Mortgage Advice Bureau umbrella. Our focus has been on pairing our franchisees with one of our financial advisers, and we think that having some degree of control of both halves of the equation has worked for us. However, in addition to providing FS services to our franchisees, we also provide FS advisers to independent estate agencies. As such our FS business operates very much as a standalone business doing much more than simply servicing our franchise network.
I believe that in the TPFG-LSL model, it will be LSL providing the financial advisers to the TPFG franchisees, and as such their FS income stream will arise solely from their own agency network.
Given buy-and-build is a key strategy, could you please comment on:
(1) the EBIT (earnings before interest and tax) multiple you are willing to pay for businesses;
(2) the conditions under which issuing shares for acquisitions destroys/creates shareholder value; and
(3) whether metrics like return on capital employed (RoCE) or return on total invested capital (RoTIC) will be reported (following other B&B companies like Halma, Diploma, Abcam ect.).
P.S. Very impressive results 🙂
We don’t report on RoCE as in so many respects the businesses that we acquire do not entirely “stand-alone” post-acquisition.
The bolt-on additional franchise networks enable us to spread our central support costs across a wider number of franchise offices. This means that businesses like Lovelle and Nicholas Humphreys can be added with very little marginal cost increase, and therefore tend to be very earnings enhancing for the Group.
Similarly, having acquired MAB Glos in 2018, we were able to secure a better rate from Mortgage Advice Bureau for our combined Brook/MAB Glos FS business, given the larger scale.
We have also moved bits of existing businesses into an acquired business, and indeed have split up an acquired business into two existing businesses.
As a result, it would be difficult to simply say, “we acquired XX Ltd for £YYm and the return is £ZZm” without trying to explain all the moving parts.
As you can see from our segmental reporting, we report on our two operating segments, that of being a property agents franchisor and property-related financial services.
You said that the average properties per letting client is in low single figures. isn’t this very labour intensive, and labour/staff is the most expensive commodity, and therefore less profitable, or is there the opportunity for cross selling with other services to letting clients?
The amount of work tends to relate to the number of properties and not the number of landlords. We find that when dealing with a larger landlord, they want a substantial discount on the management fee payable that can make it less economic to take on their properties.
We do identify cross-selling opportunities as appropriate to the business, and share these with franchisees.
Is Belvoir Group very geographically focussed into a limited area of the country. If you are E Midlands focused, doesn’t that mean your average letting and house sales are limited versus say the South East?
The Belvoir Group is UK-wide. Please refer to our map on our website https://www.belvoirgroup.com/about-us/our-business/
In terms of M&A, are there any geographical barriers to further expansion because other areas have strong competitors with barriers to entry?
None that I can think of.
You have impressive additions to financial, advisors working with you. Who were they working with before? Other organisations, and if so why do you think they came to Belvoir?
Many have come from being employed by banks, building societies and other mortgage providers, and are looking to go self-employed. As a self-employed mortgage adviser working on your own, you would not be able to join an umbrella organisation like Mortgage Advice Bureau directly. Also, we provide funding in the first six months during which new advisers are building their pipeline, and general ongoing business development and support.
Good for you to repay the government support given the performance of the company. Very responsible thing to do. PS I am a shareholder.
Thank you. The Board decided that given our 2020 performance, some of which arose from Government support for our sector, ie opening it up earlier than other sectors and the stamp duty holiday, paying back the furlough monies and small business grants was the socially responsible thing to do.
Are BLV’s directors Louise George (CFO) and Paul George (NED) related?
Not at all! Paul is a brilliant NED and a fantastic support to me on the financial reporting and corporate governance side, as he was previous a director of the Financial Reporting Council. One of my concerns when we appointed him was that people would think that we were related, but I can assure you that there is no nepotism here.
How does Purplebricks and the like effect your business? Are they more of a threat going forward?
Despite the £Millions invested in the online models, the online agents have not exceeded 10% of the sales market and made little, if any, inroads into the lettings market.
What percentage of your franchisees’ business is done in relation to the fairly new institutional investment in (newly built) residential letting units. Is this sort of letting of multiple units in purpose-built blocks run by Belvoir type of businesses?
We do little specifically in relation to the build-to-rent units, although we do some block management. Its interesting to note that as at the end of 2020 there were only 179,835 build-to-rent homes recorded as being complete, under construction or in planning to date – in fact of that total, 89,035 were in planning and 45% were in London. Given that the PRS comprises over 5 million houses, the build-to-rent market accounts for a very tiny proportion of this, and tends to be high density housing built in big towns and cities.
95% of our business is outside of London and many of our franchisees are located in market towns, where high density housing does not feature.
In 2017 your bid to merge with The Property Franchise Group was rebuffed. Could you see any rationale in having another go at merging with TPFG?
The Board and our investors do see some rationale in a merger between Belvoir and TPFG. Previous talks have not proved successful. Maybe one day the stars will align!
What has NBS generated for Belvoir. How are the units staffed – every day etc?
The strategic alliance with The Nottingham Building Society has to date seem their estate and lettings portfolio acquired by Belvoir Group franchisees and eleven NBS branches dual-branded with Belvoir or Newton Fallowell. Those offices are manned by the franchise owner in the relevant territory, who can determine the extent to which it is manned daily, all day, etc.
What valuation metrics do you use when you are considering whether or not to acquire a business? Do you have earnings etc limits beyond which you will not pay?
We have paid between a multiple of 4x and 8x EBITDA depending on the scale of the business. We paid a multiple of 4x for the recent two acquisitions (Lovelle and Nicholas Humphreys) which were networks of around 20 offices of which some were franchised. By contrast we paid a multiple of 8x for Northwood which at that time was the largest independent lettings network of around 87 offices. We do try to ensure that we can achieve 10% EPS accretion from our acquisitions, but always have an eye on the long-term potential and the associated risks.
In the 1970s the economics for landlords were generally terrible with high interest rates, low mortgage availability, regulated tenancies and high taxation. By the mid 2010s the situation had transformed, but isn’t the pendulum now swinging back rapidly?
How would your business be affected if we return to 1970s conditions?
The private rental sector is twice the size that it was in the 1970s with the PRS accounting for 19% of all tenures. It accounted for around 20% of housing in 2016 and this fell to around 19% between 2017 and 2018. It has remained stable ever since. This is not a rapid swing from one tenure to another and partially due to changing attitudes many of the 13 million renters intend to remain in the PRS. Interest rates and mortgage availability are both now very different to the 1970s, thankfully. Affordability and availability of housing is critical to both homeowners and renters, so Government policy will not want to disrupt the supply of housing. The main change on the horizon is full regulation of the PRS, which is something we welcome as it will drive more landlords into the hands of professional agencies and on which I have given a fuller response below.
No question, just a comment to say what a fantastic job you have done over the last few years. I’m delighted with the acquisitions that you have done. Happy shareholder here.
Apologies if already covered – how do you think about further synergies / cross selling opportunities between financial services and your core network? How are franchisees incentivised in this regard?
So far we have 141 of our franchised offices working with one of our FS advisers, so still room for further growth from our own networks. The degree of incentivisation for our franchisees depends on the level of their involvement. They will earn less from simply introducing leads as they would for taking on an adviser in their branch.
Central Midlands a weaker area? growth opportunity?
We operate UK-wide so everywhere is a growth opportunity!
Do you think that over regulation of the lettings market will affect your business model?
Further regulation of the lettings market should play to our strengths. First of all, it would force less professional agents to have to operate at a higher standard, which if the sums don’t work for them might result in them leaving the sector. Also, increased regulation will encourage DIY landlords to use a professional agent, such as our franchisees. Around 50% of all landlords “go it alone” and many are unaware or choose to ignore safety guidance and housing regulations. This will change at some point and many of these DIY landlords will appoint an agent and delegate responsibility to a professional.
As the company grows no doubt you will seek to raise further capital. If this is via institutional placings with a Primary Bid offer, then existing retail investors face likely dilution as there is no certainty an application via PB would succeed and if it was it could be for a nominal amount. Why can’t an open offer be made to existing retail investors at the time of any raise.
One of the downsides of the increased regulation of quoted companies is that it has become prohibitively expensive to make an open offer to all shareholders. This is regrettable, but something outside of our control. We have been very mindful of dilution of our shareholder base which is why we have funded our more recent acquisitions from debt. We believe that the cost of servicing debt compared to the dilution of shareholders plus the ongoing dividend cost is much preferable. As you can see from the 2020 accounts, our net debt was just 0.5 of EBITDA.
Louise is a Chartered Accountant having qualified with Ernst & Young in 1991. She has over 18 years’ board-level experience with AIM-listed companies overseeing a wide range of corporate transactions. Over the past six years Louise has undertaken the seven significant acquisitions for the Group. Louise, who is also a Chartered Secretary, serves as Company Secretary to the Group.
Dorian has extensive experience in the property industry having spent seven years with Countrywide before joining Belvoir in 2005 as Business Development Manager. Appointed Sales Director a year later and subsequently Chief Executive Officer, Dorian also spent five years as a director of The Property Ombudsman. Dorian has a deep understanding of franchising and the strategic vision to deliver a successful franchise operation.
Company Presentation – Avation plc
Avation PLC is a commercial passenger aircraft leasing company that was incorporated in England and Wales in 2006 and whose shares are admitted to the standard segment of the UK listing authority’s official list and are traded on the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange (LSE: AVAP).
Avation owns and manages a fleet of aircraft which it leases, through its subsidiaries, to airlines across the world. Our customers include Loganair, Air France, easyJet, Eva Air, Philippine Airlines, Air India, Vietjet Air, Fiji Airways, Mandarin Airlines, Cebu Pacific, Garuda Indonesia, Galistair, airBaltic and Danish Air Transport. The company’s fleet includes Airbus A320 and A220 aircraft, Boeing 737 NG and 777-300ER aircraft and ATR 72 aircraft.
Mr Richard Wolanski, B.Comm, ACA, is a Chartered Accountant and his qualifications include a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Western Australia.
He has provided corporate, strategic and financial advisory assistance to public companies in Australia, Singapore and the United Kingdom. Mr Wolanski has significant corporate experience during his career serving in a range of Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer Company roles. In his current role as Finance Director at Avation PLC, he is primarily responsible for maintaining access to equity capital.
Company Presentation – RBG Holdings plc
RBG Holdings plc is a professional services group, which includes one of the UK’s pioneering law firms, Rosenblatt Limited, which is a leader in dispute resolution.
RBL provides a range of legal services to its diversified client base, which includes companies, banks, entrepreneurs and individuals. Complementing this is the Firm’s increasingly international footprint, advising on complex cross-jurisdictional matters. RBL’s practice areas include dispute resolution, financial crime, corporate, banking and finance, insolvency and financial restructuring, construction and projects, employment, financial services, IP/technology/media, real estate, regulatory and tax resolution.
The Group also provides litigation finance in selected cases through a separate arm, LionFish Litigation Finance (UK) Ltd (“LionFish”). LionFish finances litigation matters being run by other solicitors in return for a significant return on the outcome of those cases. As such, the Group has two types of litigation investments – RBL’s own client matters, and litigation matters run by third-party solicitors. LionFish is positioned to be a unique, alternative provider to the traditional litigation funders.
The Group also owns Convex Capital Limited, a specialist sell-side corporate finance boutique, based in Manchester. Convex Capital is entirely focussed on helping companies, particularly owner-managed and entrepreneurial businesses, realise their value through sales to large corporates. Convex Capital identifies and proactively targets firms that it believes represent attractive acquisition opportunities.
Nicky Foulston took over the commercial management of Rosenblatt in September 2016. She had been a client of the Firm for nearly 30 years. Nicky’s background was the acquisition, in 1992, of the Brands Hatch Circuit Group and the subsequent stock market listing in 1996. Brands Hatch was acquired three years later by Interpublic, returning IPO investors a 6-7x return on their money.
Robert Parker has more than two decades of experience in scaling high-growth, multi-cultural, international companies in a variety of industries. These include business services, technology, digital media and telecoms. His recent roles include interim CFO at Tantalum Corp and CLA Limited, and permanent positions at Ubisense plc and Immedia Broadcasting plc. Robert has worked extensively with public funds, private equity, and venture capital investors to build businesses.
Company Presentation – Gaming Realms
Mark Segal, Chief Finance Officer
Mark worked as Finance Director of bwin.party bingo division, having been Finance Director of Cashcade until it was acquired by PartyGaming plc in July 2009. Mark was responsible for the full finance function, including commercial negotiations, business intelligence and operational support in the business and took the lead in the sale to PartyGaming plc and acquisition of Independent Technology Ventures in July 2007. Prior to joining Cashcade, in May 2005, Mark spent five years at the accountancy firm Martin Greene Ravden, where he qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 2003.
GAMING REALMS DEVELOPS AND LICENSES MOBILE GAMING CONTENT
Michael Buckley, Executive Chairman
Michael was Executive Chairman of Cashcade, which he founded with Patrick Southon and Simon Collins in 2000. Amongst a number of functions he performed for the company during this period, Michael was responsible for raising the £7 million equity needed for the company’s development, created a number of important commercial relationships for Cashcade, and led the sale process which generated an aggregate sale consideration of approximately £96 million for shareholders.
Company Presentation – Trident Royalties plc
Trident Royalties Plc, is a growth-focused diversified mining royalty and streaming company listed on the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange (Ticker TRR). Trident is managed by an experienced team of mining finance professionals seeking to provide investors with exposure to a mix of base and precious metals, bulk materials (excluding thermal coal) and battery metals in resource-friendly jurisdictions. Trident is represented in London, Perth and Denver.
Adam Davidson has over 10 years of experience in the natural resources sector, most recently with Resource Capital Funds, a leading mining-focused private equity firm. Prior to RCF, Adam held positions with BMO Capital Markets in Metals & Mining Equity Research and with Orica Mining Services in Strategic Planning. He has extensive mining capital markets experience across a breadth of jurisdictions and commodities. Adam began his career with T. Rowe Price and also served in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Adam is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and previously served as a Non-Executive Director of private gold producer RG Gold. He earned his MBA from the College of William & Mary and completed a post-graduate in Mining Studies from the University of Arizona.
Martin Page has over 10 years’ experience in the natural resources sector, most recently as CFO of Toro Gold Limited, a West African gold producer, that was sold to Resolute Mining in July 2019 for US$300m. Martin was a member of Toro’s senior executive team that guided the Group through the latter stages of its development and subsequent divestment to Resolute. Prior to Toro, he was CFO at Curzon Resources, a privately backed natural resources investment firm and before that as Head of Finance at Amara Mining plc; a West African gold operator. Martin has extensive experience developing and leading finance functions in both the capital and private markets.
Martin began his career in practice and is a qualified Chartered Accountant with over 15 years post qualification experience.
Julien Bosché has over a decade of experience in the natural resources sector across commodities, jurisdictions, project stage, and investment types. Prior to his most recent work as an independent advisor, he was with Pala Investments (“Pala”), a leading metals and mining focused investment firm. Prior to Pala, Julien held roles in the International Finance Corporation´s mining division in Washington, D.C. and the M&A group in Citigroup´s investment banking division in New York.
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