Australia mining sector shows growing number of mergers and acquisitions
Accounting firm BDO has...
The pace of mergers and acquisitions in the Australian mining industry has shown significant growth, a new report has revealed.
Accounting firm BDO has looked at the current financial climate of the Australian mining sector and it has revealed that it is in a healthy position and will continue to grow.
The pace of mergers and acquisitions is one area in particular that has been identified as a growth point, with financing across the exploration sector rising 42% to $1.3 billion in June quarter.
Exploration expenditure also saw significant growth, with a rise to $388mn (11%) over the same period and median exploration hit its highest level in three years with a 30% rise to $180,000.
The report has also revealed that investing cash flows in Australian increased to $269mn in the June quarter, which is more than doubled from the $133mn recorded in the March quarter.
Average cash positions fell from $5.93 million to $5.79 million, but the percentage of companies with cash positions above $4 million rose over the quarter, while BDO noted a declining trend in companies with less than $500,000 in reserves, showing smaller players were either dropping out of the market or able to raise finance.
Gold has been strong with a 7% rise in the price of the precious metal in the first half of 2017.
BDO national leader natural resources Sherif Andrawes said positive sentiment across the sector was starting to gain traction.
“We have heard that transactions are being discussed and some executed, in contrast to last year where the mood was upbeat but the sentiment had minimal traction,” he said. “Positive talk has now turned into actual deals.
“We expect to see further capital raised during the next few months as we head towards the end of the calendar year.
“(Mergers and acquisitions) activity should continue.
“Vendors are typically narrowing their focus to a limited number of key projects providing opportunity to acquirers with interests in advanced niche projects.”
Led by lithium developer Pilbara Minerals, which raised almost $200 million in debt and equity to fund its Pilgangoora lithium project, the number of companies raising more than $10 million doubled in the period to 30, according to the report.
NormCyber: enterprise-level cybersecurity for the midmarket
As the digital transformation of organisations across every sector increases, so too does the cyber threat landscape and risk of a serious data breach. The adoption of new and innovative technologies, the greater use of data and, more recently, the shift to remote working as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic, mean that the development and implementation of an enterprise-level, robust cyber security and data strategy is crucial.
This is where NormCyber enters the equation. The business, which was founded in 2013, offers a leading portfolio of Cyber Security and Data Protection as a Service products for mid-market businesses. These services are driven by three core ‘protection pillars’: people, process and technology. Pete Bowers, is Chief Operating Officer (COO) at the company, having joined at the start of 2020. Prior to this, Bowers accumulated a broad scope of cybersecurity and technology experience that enables him to drive the NormCyber proposition.
The approach to security and data protection has grown exponentially across the board, he explains. “Over my career I’ve spent time on both the supplier side - so, working for a managed network services business providing technology solutions - and the customer side, running a small consultancy. It made me aware of the gaps that exist between what service providers want to sell and what customers need or consume. I saw NormCyber as a great opportunity to put that knowledge into practice, having that experience of multiple businesses and the deployment and strategy around technology verticals was invaluable.”
NormCyber provides its services across two areas: Cyber Security-as-a-Service and Data Protection-as-a-Service. On the former, Bowers explains that “we offer a comprehensive proposition for mid-market customers that meets all their cybersecurity challenges. The cyber threat is exploding, particularly over the last three or four months, and businesses in the mid-market – with a turnover of between £10mn and £250mn - are typically under provisioned both from a technology and cyber security perspective. Cybersecurity skills in particular, such as those that we offer, are often pretty hard to come by and can be expensive for these companies.
“With that in mind, we offer a holistic solution that addresses all areas of cyber security and protects businesses across the three pillars of people, process and technology,” he continues. “It’s a single solution that certifies businesses to crucial security certifications, we train and test employees to build out the ‘human firewall’ to enable them to be more cyber aware, and we deploy technology solutions that highlight vulnerabilities and provide real protection across the business wherever its IT assets may reside. It’s a service that overlays any existing technology investments, which is really important when businesses are going through rapid digital transformations. We don’t change any of those broader, strategic decisions, we sit around them and act as the eyes and ears. Customers can take the service as a whole package or as modules on a subscription basis for as long as they want. On the data protection side, we work with customers to ensure they operate within the GDPR regulations, that they are compliant but also to help them to grow by developing and implementing good data protection standards that allow a business to demonstrate that it can be trusted with customers’ private and personal data. We bring all these components together through our multi-level reporting and online Visualiser to clearly demonstrate to a Board, management team and technical team how protected the business is and where it can improve.”
These two areas are becoming increasingly important to businesses largely due to three key drivers, says Bowers. There is, for example, increased pressure from regulators, investors and customers to ensure that businesses have effective measures in place. Businesses are also becoming increasingly aware of the threat and potential impact of an attack. They therefore want to protect their business but also grow it by demonstrating that they can be trusted with confidential data and that they take information security seriously. Or, unfortunately some businesses, particularly recently, only realise after the event that they need to address the challenge. Which means that they have suffered a cyber breach, and therefore need to implement the necessary measures and controls to mitigate and manage not only the current impact but the possibility of it happening again.
NormCyber works with clients across a broad range of industries, including CRU Group, a leading business intelligence provider in mining, metal and fertiliser commodities. “We’ve been working with CRU for over three years,” says Bowers, “and they are very much a business focused on developing innovative products and services which are founded upon technology. Having that focus means that any supporting or operational activities, such as those services that we provide, are commissioned out to experts in their respective fields. We provide a fully outsourced cyber security and data protection service that addresses every aspect of CRU’s cyber strategy, including user training, network, cloud and endpoint protection, ongoing penetration testing and vulnerability management, as well as data protection services. For a company as geographically dispersed as CRU is, and which needs to maintain control and have visibility over so many endpoints, having the peace of mind that we provide is essential.”
Understandably, providing such an essential service requires the fostering of a close, collaborative relationship, says Bowers. To this end, NormCyber acts as a trusted adviser, he notes, which extends to providing expertise and knowledge more broadly where appropriate. “We work with CRU on providing cyber security and data protection services, but also on digital transformation in a wider sense. When you work in cyber security, and you look at the technology experience across our business, then you’re able to provide guidance and advice on certain business decisions and considerations, which means we can give added value to customers too.”
Such an approach stands NormCyber in good stead for both continuing to strengthen existing relationships, such as that with CRU, and to take advantage of opportunities as the market develops. On the first, Bowers believes the relationship with CRU will continue for many years. “For us, it’s all about ensuring we are with customers at every step of their journey, bringing in the right services when they are needed and protecting the business into the future. More broadly, I think that we’re well placed to deal with any disruption or change brought about by COVID-19, both for us and our customers. We’re able to bring the right services when they are needed, and we’ll continue to develop that package further to meet future needs.”