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MiBiz Growth Report: Sept. 5, 2017

BY MiBiz Staff Sunday, September 03, 2017 05:00pm

Here is the MiBiz Growth Report for Sept. 5, 2017.

• M&A: U.K.-based Playtech acquired the technology, intellectual property and certain customer assets of ACM Group, whose CEO, Muhammad Al-Amin Rasoul, and management team are based in Grand Rapids. Playtech, a supplier of online gaming software, is listed on the London Stock Exchange and has 5,000 employees in 17 countries. Grand Rapids investment banking firm Charter Capital Partners served as financial adviser for ACM Group, a business-to-business market maker, dealer and broker in London. The deal is expected to close in early September. Terms include an initial upfront payment of $5 million, two staged payments based on the EBITDA of 2017 and 2018, and contingent consideration based on 2019 EBITDA. The total consideration for the transaction is capped at $150 million.

• M&A: Fox Motors Group LLC has entered the Southeast Michigan market with its acquisition of Ann Arbor Automotive Inc. The company, previously owned by Doug Fox, includes three separate dealerships that sell Acura, Hyundai and Nissan vehicles. Fox Motors, which is owned by Dan DeVos, plans an undisclosed investment to improve each dealerships’ landscape, facade and building and service equipment, according to a statement. The dealership group also aims to undertake “a significant” renovation at the recently-acquired Hyundai dealership in 2019.

• M&A: Cassopolis-based ICM Silicones Group was acquired by CHT Group, a global conglomerate based in Germany that focuses on manufacturing and distributing specialty chemicals, according to a statement. ICM manufactures a variety of silicone emulsions, antifoams, gels and other products used in the industrial, personal care, electronics and numerous other markets. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

• M&A: Alan Hartline, the owner of Kingma’s Market, partnered with Jeff Butzow to acquire Fish Lads of Grand Rapids Inc., which operates Fish Lads and Carvers Grand Rapids’ Finest Meats, in the Grand Rapids Downtown Market. Butzow had been a part-owner in Fish Lads. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Although Hartline’s investment is separate from his growing grocery store business, he said the deal will result in more collaborations between the two firms, including at his soon-to-open store in Ada.

• M&A: Acrisure LLC remained the largest buyer of insurance brokers across North America in the first half of 2017. The Caledonia-based Acrisure closed on 48 deals during the first six months of the year. That easily outpaced the second-highest acquirer, Deerfield, Ill.-based Alera Group, a private equity-backed firm formed early this year that closed on 27 deals, according to a quarterly report from Chicago-based Optis Partners LLC. Acrisure’s acquisition mode continued in the third quarter with the Aug. 1 deal for Northrim Benefits Group LLC in Anchorage, Alaska, from Northrim BanCorp Inc.

• M&A: Traverse City-based Hagerty Group, an insurer of classic and high-end cars, acquired Classics & Exotics, a web-based car rental platform for “enthusiast-oriented vehicles,” according to a report in Crain’s Detroit Business. The company was rebranded as DriveShare on Aug. 21. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Classics & Exotics was a graduate of the Detroit-based Techstars Mobility seed-funding program.

• Venture capital: Grand Rapids-based venture capital fund Grand Ventures I LP was part of a $5 million funding round for tech firm Sigstr, an Indianapolis cloud-based platform for employee email personalization. Investment in the Series A round was led by Hyde Park Ventures in Chicago and included Battery Ventures in Boston, Mass., Cambridge, Mass.-based HubSpot, and High Alpha Capital in Indianapolis. The investment was the second for Grand Ventures, which formed its first fund earlier this year. Grand Ventures in June was part of a syndicate of investors that invested $3.5 million in Cincinnati, Ohio-based Astronomer Inc., a firm that provides a platform for clients to collect and analyze data.

• Exit: Grand Rapids-based private equity firm Blackford Capital recorded an exit from the ownership of Key Health in Westlake Village, Calif., a personal injury lien funding company. Key Health was held by Blackford Capital’s National Growth Practice, which invests in middle-market manufacturing, distribution, and business service companies in the U.S.

• Expansion: J-Star Motion Corp., a Chinese furniture components manufacturer, plans to open a $4.9 million manufacturing facility in Cedar Springs. J-Star, which manufactures a variety of linear actuators and lifting columns for health care seating applications, will begin production at a new facility at 500 West Street in Cedar Springs by mid 2018, according to a statement. The Right Place Inc. assisted the company in securing a $738,000 performance-based grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. to support the project.

• Expansion: Detroit-based public relations and marketing firm Marx Layne & Co. opened an office in Grand Rapids in the Waters Building on Ottawa Avenue. The firm said the Grand Rapids office will support the agency’s “ongoing media relations, community relations and stakeholder engagement activities in the region and statewide.” Founded in 1987, Marx Layne provides public relations, marketing, digital media, graphic design and web development, special events and crisis communications services.

• Expansion: KL Outdoor LLC plans to establish a new global headquarters for its operations in downtown Muskegon. The Muskegon-based manufacturer of the Sun Dolphin brand of kayaks and other recreational products will invest $9.2 million in the project, which is slated for the pyramid-shaped Terrace Point building at 700 Terrace Point Drive. The expansion is expected to create 153 jobs over the next three years, according to a statement.

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