September 2017: Consulting M&A Update

By Ramone Param, Associate Director, Equiteq

Over September, we observed high-profile deals from prolific knowledge-intensive services acquirers across a variety of transforming spaces of the consulting market, including digital transformation, Salesforce consulting, real estate advisory, benefits consulting and traditional business consulting. In the last month, Equiteq advised four of its clients on the sale of their business to the practice of a larger group.

Selected Consulting M&A announced in September:

Note 1: Based on 2016 LFY Revenue

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Equiteq’s Consulting Sector M&A Deals: September 2017

  • EOH acquires AFON Pte Ltd.
  • GNC Group merges with Grant Thornton Australia
  • Investit joins Accenture
  • Certeco merges with P2 Consulting

“We are seeing an increasing trend of well-managed consulting firms joining the practice of a larger group to deliver a joint growth strategy. Over the past month, the deals Equiteq has completed highlight this growing trend.”

Pierre Briand, Managing Director, Head of M&A and Strategic Advisory, Australia – New Zealand, Equiteq

EOH acquires AFON Pte Ltd.
Deal Size: Undisclosed Industry: IT services Date: September 13 2017 

Equiteq advised EOH, Africa’s largest technology and services provider, on its acquisition of AFON Pte Ltd, a Singapore-based IT services firm specializing in the delivery of ERP solutions.

Established in 1999, AFON Pte provides enterprise resource planning solutions to SMEs, based on a select group of platforms from partners such as SAP and Microsoft. AFON Pte’s offering is a combination of end-to-end ERP solutions to help SMEs boost efficiency, visibility and control, and advisory services by qualified accountants and IT professionals for successful ERP implementation.

For EOH, the deal signifies the company’s intention to expand its global presence into South-East Asia and builds on its international presence in over 50 countries.

EOH’s global technology service offering is anchored in market-driven insights and industry-specific solutions which is best secured by understanding their clients’ culture. Expanding its global presence into South-East Asia with the acquisition of AFON Pte EOH has established an important bridgehead in the region and remains closely connected to the communities it seeks to serve.

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Making a success of succession

How do you ensure a succession plan works? When should you start considering succession planning? Penny de Valk, Equiteq specialist in leadership development and human capital, addressed these and other front-of-mind questions of business owners in the Q&A of our recent succession webinar.

The main issues raised included:

  • Recruiting new leaders: internal versus external
  • Sharing equity to attract and engage
  • Handling founders’ syndrome and the exit transition

What do you see as the pros and cons of appointing a CEO from within the firm compared with recruiting from outside?

There’s no right or wrong here. With an internal candidate you get someone who is steeped in the values and the market, someone who really understands the organization. That can have huge advantages, but if you are looking for exponential growth, or a shift in thinking, it may be best to recruit externally. It is important to begin with what you need, really spend time on ‘what good looks like’ then assess your existing people against this. You can spot the potential inside and develop it. You find people from within the business who are just as ambitious and are just as visionary about what the organization could be, not just what the organization was.

The rule of thumb would be: for organizations that are not in true start-up mode, but are half way through their maturity, it is probably half and half. The important thing is there is a good mix of capability, experience and potential.

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August 2017: Consulting M&A Update

By Ramone Param, Associate Director, Equiteq

Accenture acquires marketing agency Wire Stone

Accenture acquired creative agency Wire Stone, which provides a range of strategy and marketing campaign services that develop digital consumer experiences. Wire Stone was founded in 2000 in San Francisco and has built a reputation for the use of technology and data to improve marketing campaign return on investment. The business has worked with a number of blue-chip clients including, Microsoft, HP, PayPal and eBay.

As highlighted in our latest quarterly M&A update, Accenture continues to be highly acquisitive and is developing Accenture Interactive’s capabilities and talent across marketing and consulting. According to a recent report by Adweek, Accenture Interactive’s projected 2017 revenue of $6bn places it above Havas Worldwide, although it is not a holding company and therefore does not rank among the “Big Six” of WPP, Omnicom, Publicis, Havas, IPG and Dentsu.

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IT Services M&A trends

By Ramone Param, Associate Director, Equiteq.

We recently ran a series of webinars exploring the themes within our Global Consulting M&A report 2017, which reviews the key M&A and equity market trends within the consulting industry across five of Equiteq’s industry specialisms: Management Consulting, Media agencies, Engineering consulting, IT services and HR

In this week’s blog, we outline some of the key topics discussed in our IT Services webinar, which provides vital insight for IT Services firm owners considering selling, including average deal size and valuation multiples, drivers for deal activity, top buyers and M&A activity by region.

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A practical guide to improving margins

We recently ran two 30-minute webinars on putting margins at the centre of your business. The first of these outlined the steps businesses must take to improve margins which you can view here, while the second was a more specific look at how to implement these steps in order to improve margins in a sustainable way which you can view here. This week, we’re looking at some of the questions asked during the second webinar.

Our sales leaders are all about closing the deal and trying to increase the size of the deal. But our delivery staff are often challenged to translate that into the expected profits, can you comment on that?

When we look at the root causes of problems with margins, it’s often the lack of collaboration between sales and delivery. We commonly find this lack of collaboration can result in delivery managers discovering deals aren’t scoped properly, or the wrong skillsets were assigned.

It’s therefore important that delivery managers have early visibility of the pipeline to get resources lined up for the right client and at the right rates. That can only happen if there’s collaboration, and with both sales and delivery having access to the same information.

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Could you enhance your business valuation by embracing AI?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is no longer the domain of science fiction. Instead, it’s rapidly becoming a dominant force in the Fourth Industrial Revolution – that of digital transformation.

It’s likely that many owners of knowledge-intensive services businesses, such as IT services, media and marketing agencies or consulting firms, will be considering how AI fits into their strategy.

Further, those looking to sell their business in the future would do well to consider how AI might enhance their market position. Buyers are increasingly interested in acquiring knowledge-intensive businesses with these capabilities, which means those demonstrating the foresight to embrace AI sooner rather than later could expect to command a premium valuation.

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