June 28, 2022
Meet Johnny Tollemache, Corporate Finance Manager here at Bluebox. We sat down with him to learn more about his favourite aspects of the world of Corporate Finance, his biggest achievements since starting at Bluebox, his favourite deal he has worked on and much more!
Before you joined in 2019, you had mainly worked in the world of consulting. Now that you’ve been with Bluebox for almost 3 years, how have you found working in M&A as opposed to consulting?
The two are surprisingly similar. Both require a lot of problem solving and a similar type of thinking in approaching challenging situations. They also both give the opportunity to work with different types of business and people on a regular basis; two things that have always been important to me.
Where Consulting differs slightly, is that it can often be more challenging to see the impact of the work that you have done, due to the long-term nature of strategic change. It can often take several years to see the true result of a Strategic initiative, whereas Corporate Finance is more immediate in nature. I would also say the impact of working on transactions and M&A is often a lot more tangible and binary than in consulting which can be more subtle and peripheral.
When we chatted last, you said one of your main motivations behind choosing a career in Corporate Finance was to help businesses through the challenge of selling and to help them realise their objectives. Is this still how you feel and what else have you found to be one of your favourite aspects of working in the world of Corporate Finance?
Absolutely – my favourite part of working in Corporate Finance has always been the people element of it. We work with stakeholders from a very eclectic range of backgrounds and experience in the market, which means that every day is different.
As I said at the time of that question, selling or buying a business can often be one of the most challenging aspects for an entrepreneur / shareholder and it has been a pleasure to support clients on so many successful transactions / exits over the past three years
What has been your biggest achievement since working at Bluebox, personal or professional or both?
From a personal perspective, it was amazing to sell my house last year. We bought it four years ago and totally renovated the entire site. It was a year of going through fairly lengthy planning permissions processes and construction, so it was great to manage to sell it!
From a professional perspective, it would be setting up an investment function both personally and with Bluebox, that has given me the opportunity to invest and create long-term relationships with several very exciting SaaS-based technology firms.
What has been your favourite deal you’ve worked on and why?
I have been lucky enough to have successfully worked on 7 completed transactions over the past 2 years. While each had their own subtle peculiarities, I think my favourite to work on was the sale of MESTEC to the US-based Private Equity firm, Banneker Partners.
It was a great process from start to finish, working with some interesting stakeholders and potential partners throughout. Managing the DD process, there was a requirement to complete the deal in less than 6 weeks which was a challenging ask, but we successfully got it done which was a great feeling.
Since joining you have been promoted to Corporate Finance Manager, what do you enjoy most about your new role?
I have enjoyed a lot of things about it. It’s been good to work with everyone in the business and in the different phases / elements of a deal.
We’re a small team at Bluebox, but we punch well above our weight in what we deliver – it’s been fantastic to work with such a great group of committed people.
Since joining 3 years ago, has much changed in terms of M&A activity and if so, what?
Working in M&A during COVID was fascinating. It caused a great deal of uncertainty, and we saw a lot of deals being postponed or side-lined. Thankfully things recovered strongly, and it really demonstrated how elastic the M&A market is – it has always shown a strong ability to adapt and rebalance to extrinsic events.
Looking ahead, while there are challenges on the horizon with the dreaded combination of inflation and low growth, I am hopeful we will again see just how resilient the market is.
If you had a month off, where would you go and what would you do?
I’m a big fan of kitesurfing, so I would probably go to Tarifa in the South of Spain, to do my kitesurfing instructor course.
“We were delighted with the services that Bluebox offered us. Bluebox’s attention to detail through their Diamond Programme ensured that we were well prepared for when the business was taken to market and that the sale process itself was managed expertly.
We challenged Bluebox with finding the right strategic buyer and thereafter negotiating a deal that met our requirements. In helping initially to identify and to secure the deal with Mountville Mills they accomplished just that. Communication throughout was excellent and professional, managing each stage of the process. I would have no hesitation in recommending Bluebox to any corporate shareholder or private business owner looking to divest their business.”
Richard Millward, Former Client
“We were delighted with the services that Bluebox offered us. Bluebox were challenged with finding us the right strategic investor and, thereafter, negotiating a deal that met our complex requirements. In identifying and securing the deal with LGC they have done exactly that. The process itself was efficient and smooth, largely due to the excellent communication from the Bluebox team, who also demonstrated excellent experience at managing a very engaging auction process. I would be delighted to recommend Bluebox to any corporate shareholder or private business owner looking to divest a business.”
Helen Dickinson, Former Client
It has been a real privilege working with the team at Bluebox over this last year or so. Bluebox’s attention to detail ensured that we were well prepared for when the business was taken to market and the sale process itself was managed expertly. Starting the process, I had no idea exactly what this would entail and the volume of work that has been produced by everyone and the result reached today is nothing short of brilliant.
Hugh Morris, Former Client
We are delighted with the services that Bluebox was able to offer. They showed an intimate knowledge of a deal cycle, managed a tight auction process and were highly communicative from the start. I would happily recommend Paul and his team to business owners contemplating a sale of their business in the next 24 months. Experience is key and this has paid off for us.
Laurence Seward, Former Client
Aligning ourselves early with Bluebox, and entrusting the team to guide us through their process proved to be a highly rewarding investment from all viewpoints. Bluebox’s support significantly enhanced both the value of our business and its ‘saleability’. I would highly recommend Bluebox to business owners contemplating an exit in the next two years. The earlier the engagement the better so far as I am concerned.
Mike Minett, Former Client
We began working with Bluebox in early 2015 through their Blue Diamond Programme, as we were contemplating an exit. We found that the process focussed our minds on the key areas of growth in the business, and prepared us well for the inevitable rigours of due diligence. During the sale process itself, the advice offered by the Bluebox team was invaluable. We found them to be helpful, straightforward and honest.
David Stokes, Former Client
When selecting our adviser, it was extremely important that they had access to international buyers and were experienced in cross-border M&A. The team at Bluebox proved to be invaluable by identifying a strategic acquirer from America who was not known to us and by negotiating an excellent deal for all parties. I was also impressed with the process management from Bluebox, which ensured that the deal was closed in a timely fashion.
Jeff Weinstein, Former Client
When I first engaged with Bluebox, I was hesitant as to the benefits of using an advisor to firstly, find a buyer for my business and secondly, to get a deal over the line. However, now that the deal has completed with KPM, I can honestly say that the finer negotiation points handled by Bluebox and their overall management of this process has been nothing short of first class. I would be delighted to recommend Bluebox’s services to any entrepreneur contemplating the sale of their business.
Bill Ballard, Former Client
Bluebox worked closely with us over the following six months and helped us to implement some key initiatives which made InferMed a more attractive acquisition target. Once we decided to sell the business, the Bluebox team were very diligent in ensuring that no stone was left unturned. They negotiated expertly on our behalf to ensure we got the best deal possible.
Alan Montgomery, Former Client
The pre-sale planning programme that we signed up for with Bluebox made us develop our strategies and focus on the bigger picture. It proved to be a very rewarding investment from all viewpoints and significantly enhanced both the value of our business and its ‘saleability’. I would highly recommend Bluebox to business owners contemplating an exit in the next two years.
Nigel Parsons, Former Client
I have experienced first hand the value that can be created through highly structured pre-sale planning. It amazes me that it is not something that everyone does. It is so disappointing to see around 90% of transactions collapse before they complete and pre-sale planning will not only enhance your price, but also significantly enhance your chance of a closed deal.
James Caan, Investor
We worked incredibly closely with our advisers who provided expert knowledge of the sale process with which we were not familiar. We were truly delighted with the results.
Marten Nielson, Former Client
We appointed advisers to manage the sales process after we had received a number of unsolicited approaches for the business. I was incredibly impressed by the immense value that could be created by expertly negotiating with a group of already interested parties.
Paul Duckworth, Former Client
I was delighted with the service that the team offered and their real attention to detail. The deal was not without its complexities and it was reassuring to have such experienced advisers assisting me throughout the negotiations.
Peter Bennett, Former Client
Truly delighted with the way my sale process was managed. The fact that the team I worked with achieved such a great multiple is testament to their experience and their ability to create some true competitive tension.
James Averdieck, Gü, Former Client
The team at Bluebox provided invaluable support in negotiating this complex transaction. Their access to international purchasers, and exceptional knowledge of cross border M&A ensured that the deal was concluded efficiently, achieving a highly successful outcome for us all.
Jon Parslow, Former Client
“We selected Bluebox after a fairly long round of evaluating potential advisors because of their scientific, yet challenging approach to maximising value. During our initial meetings they showed us how far short of “ready” we were and consequently we completed more preparation in the early stages which meant we were equipped for what was to come. We were delighted with our choice of Corporate Finance partner. I do not hesitate in recommending Bluebox for any SME to consider.”
Simon English, Former Client
Bluebox provided invaluable advice in managing the negotiations with incoming investors. Their skills in handling these discussions were evident from the outset and the vital interface that they provided between the incumbent team and the incoming investors was truly beneficial.
Henry Braham, Former Client
Bluebox have a professional, dynamic and experienced team that is greatly assisting me with my focus on my exit within the next 24 months. Their structured approach is very refreshing and their ‘Blue Diamond’ programme is adding immense value.
Matt Evans, Former Client
The team at Bluebox provided me with a seamless service from the start of the engagement until our deal was completed. Attention to detail was commendable and their understanding of corporate M&A very impressive. I could not recommend them highly enough.
Victor Lewis, Former client
Having tried to sell my business previously – and failed – I was only too aware of the importance of pre-sale planning. This is a talented team offering a service that most people find out about, but too late.
Simon Hulme, Former Client
Bluebox are a quality outfit. Their access to International acquirers and relationships with the highest quality domestic investors was impressive. My shareholders and I received excellent service from start to finish and it was refreshing to be dealing with a senior team throughout the sale exercise.
Michael Clapper, Former Client
I cannot recommend the team at Bluebox highly enough. Their expert guidance throughout the entire sale exercise resulted in my shareholders securing an excellent deal with which the entire team was delighted.
Mark Rodol, Former Client
I’m really pleased with the service Bluebox provided. The team demonstrated excellent knowledge of the process to follow and led negotiations for the hospital in a way that allowed us to ensure we received appropriate value whilst focusing on reputational risk. Communication and service were of a very high standard.
Steven Davies, Former Client
With Bluebox’s expert advice we were able to find the right buyer that will benefit our business strategically. We’re delighted with the outcome and look forward to starting our new chapter
Clive Hillier, Former Client
The advice offered by the Bluebox team throughout the process was invaluable to the shareholders. We strongly believe that participating in Bluebox’s pre-sale planning programme was a significant driver behind the success of the deal. Their project management and negotiation skills throughout the sale process itself resulted in an exceptional deal being delivered to all parties involved.
Harpal Singh, Former Client