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.

EY expands its creative services with acquisition of Citizen

Target: Citizen is a Portland, Oregon-based digital design firm with strength in hot spaces like strategy, digital transformation, cybersecurity, analytics, virtual and augmented reality, and technology solutions.

Buyer: Ernst & Young (EY) is one of the Big Four global professional services firms.

Deal Insight:
The deal forms part of a broader trend of convergence between business advisory, technology and creative services, as well as the drive amongst consulting firms to broaden and deepen their expertise in a variety of digital transformation capabilities. The acquisition follows EY’s recent acquisition of digital consultant etventure in Germany and their acquisition of US-based analytics and big data consulting firm Society Consulting in 2016. These digital transactions by EY follow similar notable moves by competitors PwC and Deloitte.

KPMG acquires Cyberinc’s IAM cyber security business

Target: Cyberinc’s Identity and Access Management (IAM) business. Cyberinc is a Silicon Valley-based information security consulting firm. It is the largest independent IAM technology provider in the world.

Buyer: KPMG is one of the Big Four global professional services firms.

Deal Insight:
Cyber security remains a crucial concern amongst senior executives across sectors that are using new disruptive digital technologies related to automation, connected systems and advanced data analytics to transform their businesses. The acquisition of Cyberinc’s IAM business will enhance KPMG’s information security consulting business in the growing area of digital consumer identity and privileged user management. The deal follows competitor transactions like EY’s acquisition of Australia-based Open Windows last Summer and PwC’s acquisition of Netherlands-based Everett in 2016.

Oliver Wyman expands digital capabilities with purchase of Draw

Target: Draw Group is a UK-based 50-person team of experts focused on creating effective websites, apps and business tools through developing digital strategies, CRM and email campaigns, SEO and content.

Buyer: Oliver Wyman is a global management consulting firm that is part of Marsh & McLennan Companies.

Deal Insight:
The acquisition is sponsored by Oliver Wyman Labs, which sits within the management consulting buyer’s growing digital practice. The deal follows an established relationship between the two firms that have partnered on various digital projects for clients.  The deal broadens the acquirer’s capabilities to better assist clients on their digital transformation projects. The transaction represents another notable move by a leading management consulting firm to capitalize on the huge opportunity for providing advisory services around digital transformation initiatives. Last year, a major deal in the space was The Boston Consulting Group’s acquisition of Pittsburgh-based digital design and innovation consulting lab MAYA.

Newly formed Kantar Consulting acquires Mash Strategy

Target: Mash Strategy is a UK-based 25-person brand strategy and growth consultancy based in London that works with high-profile clients such as Pepsi and Unilever.

Buyer: Kantar Consulting is a recently launched business within WPP’s data investment management division Kantar. It is focused on sales and marketing consulting to ‘switch on growth’ for brand owners and retailers. The business was formed from the merger of Kantar Added Value, Kantar Futures, Kantar Vermeer and Kantar Retail earlier in the month.

Deal Insight:
The newly formed Kantar Consulting is aiming at providing clients with deeper and more comprehensive data-driven consulting services around marketing and sales through a single brand. The share prices of major media players have been declining as the industry faces a variety of issues including falling digital advertising spend of large clients and increasing competition from adjacent sectors. The move was considered as a response to the latter as tech services and business consulting firms continue to move into the creative media space. Examples of this include EY’s acquisition of Citizen and Oliver Wyman’s acquisition of Draw, as well as Accenture’s acquisition of Altima and Rothco at the end of last year.

Selected Consulting M&A announced in January:

Equiteq Consulting Share Price Index:

Important Notice: This article has been compiled using our daily activities in the industry that provide us with unique market intelligence, along with unverified data from various third-party information sources.

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