2017 was a year of continued growth for Equiteq and further disruption of business models, which is transforming the industry that we have been tracking for 15 years. The disruption of the traditional consulting model from technology-enabled innovation, combined with economic trends, has led us to transition the definition of our industry coverage from consulting to the broader transforming knowledge economy. Our Global Knowledge Economy M&A report delivers you with actionable intelligence into the latest M&A and equity market trends across the knowledge economy, along with tips on how to consider these findings in the context of growing and selling your consulting or technology firm.
Insight Strategy Advisors joins Precision Value & Health
Ducker Worldwide joins Frontier Strategy Group
Axentel joins Park Place Technologies
8works joins Oliver Wyman
We have had a strong start to 2018 across regions, advising a variety of knowledge economy clients on their equity growth and closing a number of high-profile transactions. Here we highlight our advisory work with clients which resulted in M&A deal closures during the first quarter.
Major dealsincluded Apax’ acquisition of Business Integration Partners (Bip), Duff & Phelps’ acquisition of Kroll, Accenture’s acquisition of MXM (Meredith Xcelerated Marketing) and the completion of Altran’s acquisition of Aricent.
Equiteq advisedBip on its sale to Apax, c3 consulting on its sale to Ankura and 8works on its sale to Oliver Wyman.
The Equiteq Knowledge Economy Share Price Indexdipped slightly over the period.
CMF Associates, a provider of transaction and transition-focused financial, operational and human capital solutions, was successfully sold to professional services firm CBIZ, Inc. The US-based firm services private equity firms and their portfolio companies across North America.
Equiteq were initially called upon to determine CMF’s market attractiveness and then hired as the exclusive sell-side advisor for the transaction process.
By Pierre Briand, Managing Director, Equiteq Australia and New Zealand
This year’s Financial ReviewClient Choice Awardsproved that the Australian and New Zealand professional services sector is going from strength to strength. At a glittering award ceremony held in Melbourne last night, professional services firms and practitioners were rewarded for the excellent quality and service they provide to their clients.
Notable deals included Capgemini’s acquisition of LiquidHub, Veritas Capital’s acquisition of PwC US’s government consulting business, Valtech’s acquisition of True Clarity and Livingbridge-backed Catalyst Development’s acquisition of Knadel.
Equiteq advised Ducker Worldwide on its sale to Frontier Strategy Group and Axentel Technologies on its sale to Park Place Technologies.
The Equiteq Consulting Share Price Indexfluctuated over the month and ended the period broadly flat.
Capgemini acquires digital customer experience firm LiquidHub
Target: LiquidHub is a US-headquartered global customer engagement company that help companies improve customer experience and drive growth.
Buyer: Capgemini is a France-headquartered global leader in consulting, technology services and digital transformation.
Deal Value: EUR400m (1.8x FY17 Revenue)
Deal Insight: In October of last year, The Times of India reported that Cognizant and Apax Partners were among shortlisted suitors for a potential acquisition of LiquidHub for as much as $600m. At the beginning of February, Capgemini announced that it would acquire the business for almost two times its revenue.
LiquidHub was founded in 2000 and raised $52.54m of Series B venture funding from ChrysCapital in 2014. The investment put the company’s pre-money valuation at $116.67m and enabled it to make investments in its growth including completing a number of acquisitions over 2016 and 2017. The company’s shareholder includes key management and investor ChrysCapital.
In a recent interview with Financier Worldwide, David Jorgenson, chief executive of Equiteq, suggests deal flow in 2018 will be supported by continued low interest rates and large pools of capital available for acquisitions among both strategic buyers and private equity investors.
With the forecast for M&A in 2018 predicted to be as lucrative as 2017, it’s anticipated businesses will continue to see a rise in unsolicited approaches from buyers. In fact, about a third of Equiteq transactions start with a client receiving an approach from a buyer.
However, despite a seller receiving an enquiry, there is no guarantee that a deal will be done. In reality, given the number of companies looked at by Trade and PE investors, the chance of it closing can be relatively low, so taking the right approach from the very beginning is essential in maximizing the opportunity and minimizing the opportunity cost of wasted effort.
In this blog Bruce Ramsay, managing director, business development at Equiteq, shares his thoughts on how best to manage the process from initial approach to a closed deal.
In his three-part series, Build or Buy? Equiteq’s Adam Blatchford discusses the pillars for successful growth through acquisition. In part one Adam addressed the strategic advantages acquisitions can offer.
Here in part two, he looks at the ways a professional service firm can fund an acquisition.
Generally, M&A news tends to give the impression that acquisition is an exercise exclusive to huge corporations with big cash balances. In the last year the consulting sector has seen a number of multi-billion dollar deals, including Blackstone spending $4.8 billion for Aon’s HR Outsourcing business to create Alight Solutions, and $2.6 billion for British engineering consultancy Atkins from SNC-Lavalin.
This perception fails to scratch the surface of acquisitions and hides the real picture. Of more than 2,500 consulting deals that took place in 2017, the mean deal size was a more reasonable $69 million. The median deal was even lower at $12 million, meaning half of all deals took place below this threshold. These numbers are far more attainable for a ‘regular’ growth-stage business and demonstrate that an acquisition is more achievable than one might have initially thought.
Major deals included Starr Investment Holdings’ acquisition of ACA Compliance, EY’s acquisition of Citizen, KPMG’s acquisition of Cyberinc, Oliver Wyman’s acquisition of Draw and the newly formed Kantar Consulting’s acquisition of Mash Strategy.
The Equiteq Consulting Share Price Index achieved strong gains of 6% over the month, with robust rises in all segmental indices apart from Media.
Starr Investment Holdings’ acquires ACA Compliance from New Mountain Capital
Target: ACA Compliance Group is a leading provider of risk management and technology solutions to the financial services industry in the U.S. and Europe.
Seller: New Mountain Capital is a U.S.-based private equity investor, with a focus on building and growth, pursuing long-term capital appreciation.
Buyer: Starr Investment Holdings is a New York-based investment adviser that invests in privately-held technology-enabled services businesses with a particular focus on industries such as financial services and healthcare services.
Deal Insight: ACA Compliance was acquired by a consortium of investment firms including New Mountain Capital through an LBO in December 2013 for an undisclosed sum. Since the investment, ACA has rapidly grown its team. It has benefited from the rise in demand for risk and corporate governance services from financial services clients disrupted by new regulatory and compliance requirements since the last financial crisis. Over the last few years, ACA invested in new technologies and expects to develop these further with its new backing from Starr. The new capital is also expected to enable ACA to expand into new service lines and industry verticals across the globe.
The final quarter of 2017 saw global deal activity in the consulting sector fall by 4% year-on-year and decline 1% as compared to the third quarter. As frequently observed, there were significant variations in deal activity by region and amongst market segments. There is strong buyer appetite for deals as we commence 2018. Continue reading →