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16 October, 2006 - 11:41 By Staff Reporter

Under new ownership - the East of England!

Dealflow in the East of England in the last 12 months has edged towards £65 billion – a stunning testimony to the region’s enduring appeal as a place in which to do business and invest.

The eyes of investors all around the world are firmly fixed on the region’s prize assets and pretty much every worthwhile business, airport, seaport or major land or property mass is now under foreign ownership.

The continuing internationalisation of the East of England economic heartland is adding to its value in terms of follow-through investment in personnel and infrastructure. But, as our month-by-month guide to dealflow demonstrates, the region isn’t simply a jar of goodies for overseas consortia to dip into.

More local companies are growing to a greater critical mass in global terms and more East of England businesses have become predators rather than the prey.

‘Prey’ may have been on the minds of a consortium branded Osprey locked in a bidding war for AWG, the owner of Anglian Water and Morrisons.

As rival consortia gathered, Osprey – led by the asset management arm of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and also involving 3i – upped its bid from £2.2bn to £2.5bn.

Two other Australian investors, Babcock & Brown and Macquarie Bank, were being linked with bids for AWG and at the time of writing it was reported that merchant bank Merrill Lynch might also enter the fray.

The stand-out deals in value terms have been the acquisition of BAA, owner of Stansted Airport, by Spanish infrastructure group Ferrovial for more than £10bn and the £2.8bn acquisition of Associated British Ports by Admiral Acquisitions – an international consortium led by Goldman Sachs.

Other deals that caught the eye for strategic, non-financial reasons were AstraZeneca’s double swoop for KuDOS and Cambridge Antibody Tech-nology and Motorola’s surprise takeover of TTP Communications. And the deals just keep on rolling as October unfolds.

• Bedfordshire builder Kier Group has paid £53.3m for a Lincolnshire housebuilder

• Intel, the world’s largest chip firm, decided to invest £5.3 million and take a three per cent equity stake in Herts-based system-on-chip IP specialist, Imagination Technologies.

• Ryanair tabled a shock £1 billion all cash bid for rival Irish low-cost airline, Aer Lingus, just three days after the Dublin flyer started unconditional stock market dealings.

• Rok plc, the Milton Keynes builder, expanded its Scottish operation 350 per cent following the £31.3 million acquisition of the Highlands building firm, Tulloch Construction.

• Domiciliary care provider, Careforce, acquired Keycare Services for £1.25m, expanding the Hertfordshire firm’s presence in the North West.

• Herts-based Telford Homes decided to raise £15 million in a share placing designed to fund investment in further London-based land opportunities for development.

 

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