In 2019 we acquired 41 businesses, 30 in Pest Control.

Acquisitions & Disposals

2019 was another excellent year for M&A, with 41 acquisitions in 23 countries and the divestment in July of our 17.8% stake in CWS-boco International GmbH (the JV with Haniel). During the year we acquired 30 pest control, eight hygiene, and three Ambius businesses, generating annualised revenues in the year prior to purchase of £137m. Total spend, including prior year acquisitions, was £316.5m. Countries in which we have acquired new businesses include Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Domincan Republic, Dutch Antilles, Finland, France, Greece, Indonesia, Malaysia, Peru, Poland, Spain, Tanzania, Thailand, UK and US. We also entered new markets of Jordan, Sri Lanka and Uruguay.

In July 2017 the Group’s Workwear and Hygiene assets principally in Germany and Benelux were transferred into a joint venture with Haniel for a cash consideration of €520m and a retained 17.8% share in CWS-boco International GmbH. On 30 July 2019 we agreed to sell our remaining stake in the JV to Haniel for a cash consideration of €430m. There is no tax on disposal. Together with the initial consideration for transferring the businesses into the JV of €520m and dividends received since its formation of c.€29m, the transaction has realised a total cash return of €979m. The proceeds from the sale have been used to reduce debt and support the Group’s M&A programme.

Our recent acquisitions continue to perform at or above our required hurdle rates. Going forward we will continue to execute a differentiated and disciplined approach to capital investment and M&A, with clear IRR hurdles by business line. We will continue to seek further acquisition opportunities for 2020 and the pipeline of prospects remains strong. We have made a good start to 2020 and, given the continued strength of our pipeline, our anticipated spend on M&A in 2020 is expected to be in the region of c.£250m.

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