Small/mid-size Company Deal of the Year

Winner: Nomad Digital

Winner: Nomad Digital

THE winning deal saw Corbridge-based Nomad Digital buy out a rival, thus removing one of its main competitors from its market place.

In the year since Nomad acquired QinetiQ Rail, it has continued its onward march and has recently won major contracts in Dubai and the United States.

Nomad, which supplies wireless internet services to train operators including Virgin Trains and Southern Railway, snapped up QinetiQ Rail in exchange for an 8.6% stake in Nomad and a £1.5m preference share loan, in a deal valued at £4.5m.

QinetiQ operated in a similar market to Nomad in the UK, Europe and Russia, and was sold by defence giant QinetiQ plc.

Chief executive Graeme Lowdon said the deal provided Nomad with the technological building blocks to increase its share in the same European markets.

He added: “We had deployed our digital service on [Virgin’s] West Coast Main Line and QinetiQ Rail had done quite a bit of work on the Pendolino train, which is the same train that Virgin use.

“We are able to internalise that knowledge, which is all about utilising those building blocks to unlock much larger value.”

The former government-owned QinetiQ Rail, which counts EuroStar and Network Rail as customers, was renamed Nomad Solutions Ltd.

Mr Lowdon, who said QinetiQ had spent millions of pounds on the technology, said the deal underlined Nomad’s reputation in the provision of high-speed data services to train operators.

He said: “The reality was that we put a proposition to (QinetiQ plc) which made sense to them to be part of a bigger business.”

Nomad was founded by Mr Lowdon and ex-Cable & Wireless executive Nigel Wallbridge in 2002. Amadeus Capital Partners and T-Mobile Venture Fund bought a 37% stake in the company in exchange for an £8m investment fund in July 2006.

The QinetiQ deal has fuelled Nomad’s continued growth

In June this year it won a deal to supply the first free-to-all onboard wireless broadband service on the entire US railroad.

It has also won a contract to provide on-train and station internet for the new Dubai Metro system in the United Arab Emirates.

While this is Nomad’s first commercial deal in the US, the company is expecting to win more in the near future amid increased use of public transport on the back of soaring fuel costs. Nomad’s technology works by linking trains to wireless base stations along the track, which allows information to be sent and received at speeds 25 times faster than domestic broadband internet access. The system provides continuous, high-speed broadband coverage, even through tunnels.

Advisers

Gordons

KPMG Newcastle

Runners-up: Hadrian Group

MORE than 20 jobs were saved after joinery and shopfitting business West End Cabinet Company (WECC) was bought out of administration by near-neighbour Hadrian Group.

Architectural glazing company Hadrian integrated WECC with its own business and expanded its client list which includes British Airways and Lloyds TSB.

The companies, based on the Addison Industrial Estate, Blaydon, continue to be run by their own management teams, with Hadrian being able to add WECC’s £1m turnover to its £4m annual takings.

Advisers

Willey & Co Accountants

Paterson Wolf & Co Solicitors

DW Tilley

PONTELAND-BASED family firm DW Tilley was sold to support services group Mitie for £7.5m cash, minus outstanding debt, with a further £5m available depending on the future financial performance of the firm.

Over the past 25 years DW Tilley has grown from a small business into a national company with offices in nine locations including Manchester, Leeds, Walsall, Southampton and Cardiff.

The company’s impressive list of blue-chip clients includes BAE Systems, Stagecoach, Peugeot Citroen, MFI, Arriva and Heinz.

Advisers

unw LLP

JD Plastics

VENTURE capital firm Key Capital Partners (KCP) took over JD Plastics and Rooflines Ltd, a roofline contractor and supplier, earlier this year.

The business was set up in 1994 in Bishop Auckland by Graham Dent and his son Jamie. Graham has now retired but Jamie has remained as the managing director to oversee the planned expansion of the business, which installs roofing products and supplies them to the building trade.

Sales at JD Plastics, which currently employs 55 people, are predicted to hit £5m this year, up from £1.5m in 2006.

Advisers

unw LLP

Nomad has continued its onward march and has won major contracts in Dubai and the United States

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