8 ways to handle an unsolicited bid for maximum value

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.

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How to fund an acquisition

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.

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January 2018: Consulting M&A and Equity Market Update

By Ramone Param, Associate Director, Equiteq

  • 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.
  • Equiteq advised New York-based leading market access consultancy Insight Strategy Advisors (ISA) on its sale to Precision Value & Health.
  • 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.

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