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The runaway winner of our first Best Corporate Finance Deal of the Year Award goes to KPMG’s corporate finance team for its innovative approach to turning around the fortunes of convenience store chain Londis in a sale to Musgrave.

‘It led strongly from the top and calmed nerves. It innovated and showed good market knowledge. It simply got a great deal and enhanced shareholder value,’ the judges said.

The Londis deal was different from any other because of the scale of shareholder communication, high public scrutiny, assertive tactics in dealing with the board and potential purchases, and tangible value add of the final result.

Within its submission, the team explained how it built on its market leadership in the retail sector, maximised shareholder value, demonstrated in-depth awareness of the market and structured and negotiated the sale.

The judges said: ‘It was beautifully presented, bringing alive a great story. It presented and argued its case well.’

KPMG’s reputation for completing more M&A deals globally than any other corporate finance adviser made the team the perfect partner for this publicly fraught deal.

‘What a difference it made to have KPMG fighting our corner, especially when it came to the directors’ share of the sale proceeds. It really flexed its muscle to get us the best deal,’ said Kishor Patel, chairman of the Londis Shareholder Action Group.

The corporate finance team set itself aside when it secured a deal worth more than double the original mooted sale price of an underperforming business with a complex governance structure and a board full of conflicts.

More than 1,600 shareholders voted, with 97% in favour of the proposal, giving them £31,000 each. This is impressive considering the long history of shareholder inertia, the discontent over the original offer and the negative press coverage.

‘KPMG helped us to consider all the options, reinstate confidence in the board and brought about the strategic marriage of two companies, which now have an exciting future. KPMG has to take a great deal of the credit for pulling us through and instigating the best deal,’ said Peter McNamara, vice chairman of Londis.

The award was open to corporate finance departments operating within established accountancy firms and smaller boutique corporate finance firms, where qualified accountants make up the majority of professional staff.

Entrants were invited to submit a single deal for consideration by the judges who would be looking for the delivery of an exceptional service by a lead adviser to any of the main parties in a completed deal. The winning entry had to show evidence that it had provided timely and innovative advice.

The following areas were considered by the judges: innovation in terms of initiating the deal, and the background of the initiation; novelty in the structure formulated for the deal, including the sourcing of finance; knowledge of the market in which the client is operating; and whether entrants had demonstrated that the fees they charged delivered real benefits that the company would not otherwise have enjoyed.

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