January 2020: Knowledge Economy M&A and Equity Market Update

  • Major deals profiled include NTT Data Services’ acquisition of Flux7, Accenture’s purchase of Clarity Insights and Atos’ acquisition of Maven Wave.
  • The Equiteq Knowledge Economy Share Price Index rose over the month.

NTT Data Services acquires Flux7, bolstering its AWS consulting capabilities.

Target: Flux7 is a US-headquartered company specialized in cloud implementation and migration, automation and DevOps consulting services.

Buyer: NTT Data Services is a US-headquartered provider of IT insights and solutions.

Deal insight: The acquisition of Flux7 forms part of three acquisitions announced by NTT Data Services in 2019. The buyer is bolstering its IT consulting capabilities across North America and the purchase of Flux7 adds consulting capabilities in the rapidly growing AWS’ public cloud. The deal also strengthens NTT Data Services’ capabilities in application modernization, a space in which it was named a leader in the Q3 2019 Forrester Wave for Application Modernization and Migration Services.

In April, Flux7 raised funding from NewWave Partners to invest in the expansion of its DevOps consulting services. Its acquisition by NTT Data Services will give Flux7 access to NTT’s global R&D capabilities and infrastructure. The deal will also enable Flux7 to offer its clients a broader set of digital transformation and innovation capabilities from an established global platform.

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November 2019: Knowledge Economy M&A and Equity Market Update

  • Major deals profiled include Tech Mahindra’s acquisition of BORN, DXC Technology’s purchase of Virtual Clarity and Accenture’s acquisition of Silveo.
  • Equiteq advised on five completed transactions over the month.
  • The Equiteq Knowledge Economy Share Price Index rose over the month.

Tech Mahindra continues its North American acquisition spree with its purchase of digital agency BORN.

Target: BORN Group is a US-headquartered digital contentand productionagency.

Buyer: Tech Mahindra is an India-headquartered provider of IT services and consulting.

Deal value: $95m

Deal insight: Tech Mahindra continues to build its North American digital capabilities with a string of acquisitions. Its purchase of BORN follows the Indian outsourcer’s acquisition of US-based design agency Mad*Pow in July and the purchase of Canadian IT consulting firm Objectwise Consulting in June. Tech Mahindra also recently invested in US-based software development company Altiostar. This significant deal flow from Tech Mahindra over 2019 reflects a notable uptick in activity as compared with the last five years.

The acquisitions of North American digital capabilities by Tech Mahindra reflects a shift for traditional IT outsourcing giants. Most are pivoting their service offering away from their shrinking legacy outsourcing core market and toward the growing digital and innovation consulting sectors. Major outsourcing players are using a blend of organic growth initiatives, early stage investments, and M&A to enable this. Some of the most active traditional outsourcing firms that are purchasing businesses in the digital and innovation space include Accenture, Cognizant and Capgemini, as well as other Indian outsourcing giants like Infosys and Wipro.

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October 2019: Knowledge Economy M&A and Equity Market Update

  • Major deals profiled include American Securities and Lindsay Goldberg’s acquisition of AECOM’s Management Services business, BCG’s purchase of AllofUs and Thoma Bravo’s acquisition of Sophos.
  • Equiteq advised Presence of IT on its sale to Deloitte and Mitrais on its sale to CAC Holdings.
  • The Equiteq Knowledge Economy Share Price Index rose modestly over the month.

Thoma Bravo makes offer to acquire next generation cloud-enabled cybersecurity solutions provider.

Target: Sophos is a UK-headquartered specialist in advanced cloud-enabled cybersecurity solutions.

Buyers: Thoma Bravo is a US-headquartered private equity firm.

Deal value: £3.1bn ($3.9bn) (5.5x TTM 31-March-2019 revenue)

Deal insight:  Thoma Bravo will be acquiring a cyber security provider that has positioned itself as an innovator in the market by leveraging advanced capabilities in artificial intelligence, cloud, data analytics and managed threat response. The global cybersecurity market is expected to grow rapidly over the coming years. Accelerating digital transformation of businesses across industries has opened new vulnerabilities with the continued shift to new cloud-based systems, as well as the rising adoption of mobile devices, social media platforms and advanced data analytics tools. In addition to these industry drivers, robust capital raises and dry powder are supporting strong demand from private equity firms bidding on the potential for stellar returns in the space.

Thoma Bravo is an investor that has experience of investing in major assets in the cyber security space. The private equity buyer previously acquired Imperva, a provider of cybersecurity solutions to protect systems on-premise and in the cloud, in a deal which was valued at $2.1bn. The investment firm also acquired Veracode, a provider of next-generation application security testing, which was purchased from Broadcom for $950m. We have also noted major recent cyber security deals from Thoma Bravo’s competitors including Blackstone and KKR, who exited their investment in Cylance to BlackBerry last year.

Sophos is listed on the London Stock Exchange and Thoma Bravo’s proposed offer price of $7.40 pence per share in cash represents a 37.1% premium to the closing price of Sophos shares on 11 October 2019. The acquisition of Sophos is being denominated in dollars against a backdrop of continued forex volatility in the UK through Brexit negotiations. This presents significant foreign exchange risks to investors that are being paid in sterling.

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September 2019: Knowledge Economy M&A and Equity Market Update

  • Major deals profiled include McKinsey’s acquisition of Westney Consulting, Accenture’s purchase of Pragsis Bidoop and Siemens Healthineers’ acquisition of ECG Management Consultants.
  • Equiteq advised Live Rice Index on its sale to S&P Global Platts.
  • The Equiteq Knowledge Economy Share Price Index was broadly flat over the month.

McKinsey strengthens its capital-projects consulting capabilities with acquisition of Westney Consulting.

Buyer: McKinsey is a US-headquartered global management consulting firm serving businesses, governments, and institutions.

Target: Westney Consulting is a US-headquartered capital projects consulting firm.

Deal insight: The acquisition of Westney further strengthens McKinsey’s industry recognized capital projects and infrastructure consulting business. Westney has strong capabilities in energy consulting, enabled by rich data sets. These capabilities have benefited from stabilizing commodity prices, increased infrastructure spend in the US and the rising complexity of new large infrastructure projects.

McKinsey has historically focused on organic growth, while making selective acquisitions in strategically important spaces. Strategic sectors have included digital consulting and data analytics, which are also market segments with acute talent shortages. McKinsey’s acquisitions are typically preceded by a partnership with a target company, which can enable the testing of synergies before agreeing a deal. McKinsey and Westney note a longstanding partnership, where they have worked together on various projects for over 10 years prior to agreeing this transaction.

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April 2017: Consulting M&A Update

By Ramone Param, Associate Director, Market Intelligence & Buyer Coverage, Equiteq.

SNC-Lavalin acquires Atkins

SNC-Lavalin is acquiring British engineering consultancy Atkins for £2.1bn ($2.6bn). The offer represented a c.35% premium to the undisturbed closing price of Atkins prior to acquisitions talks were announced. As highlighted in our January market update, CH2M had been rumored to be in discussions with Atkins about a possible merger earlier in the year.

The acquisition would boost the Canadian engineering and construction firm’s European revenue as it emerges from a self-imposed freeze on acquisitions in 2015. The deal is expected to expand SNC’s projects outside the energy industry, while oil prices continue to remain significantly below their 2014 levels.

In combination with John Wood Group’s acquisition of Amec for £2.2bn ($2.7bn) last month, the deal represents a consolidation of the UK engineering consulting market, a trend that we anticipated globally in our latest Engineering M&A Report.

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March 2017: Consulting M&A Update

 By Ramone Param, Associate Director, Market Intelligence & Buyer Coverage, Equiteq.

Oracle reportedly exploring Accenture acquisition bid

According to a report by The Register, Oracle has hired consultants to conduct due diligence research on acquiring Accenture. Accenture is a major Oracle partner, while Oracle has a material services business which operates alongside its software offering. The combination would significantly enhance both companies position in their respective markets, creating a leading provider of end-to-end digital transformation products and services.

A deal with Accenture would follow Oracle’s recent acquisition of NetSuite for $9.3bn and its acquisition of PeopleSoft in 2005 for $10.3bn. With Accenture’s market cap at over $77bn, the deal would be by far its largest acquisition to date.

Oracle has been focusing on its cloud business, but is still considered to be behind market leaders Amazon Web Services, as well as Microsoft, Google and IBM. Following reports of the deal, Accenture’s stock fell, with some equity analysts raising concerns about the deal’s implications for Accenture’s independence and the risks to Accenture’s strong relationships with Oracle’s competitors like SAP, Salesforce, ServiceNow and Workday.

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January 2017: Consulting Market Update

Consulting M&A Activity and Equiteq Consulting Share Price Index Performance

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By Ramone Param, Associate Director, Market Intelligence & Buyer Coverage, Equiteq.

The New Year commenced with some notable deal activity and M&A news across all five of the consulting segments that we track. The share prices of many listed consultants that form part of our Equiteq Consulting Share Price Index also rose on the back of strong market sentiment and earnings announcements.

WS Atkins and CH2M $4bn merger talks

The Times reported that British engineering and design consulting firm, WS Atkins Plc (ATKW.L) and US-based CH2M are in merger talks. Atkins had said last year that plans by the new U.S. administration and U.K. government to increase infrastructure spending would benefit the company. Atkins had been using M&A to selectively increase its geographic footprint and capabilities, in a segment that is considered to be consolidating as players look to reduce overheads and increase global market share.

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How to handle an approach from a buyer – ‘Bid-defence’

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By Bruce Ramsay, Managing Director, Business Development, Equiteq

It is quite common for successful consulting firms to be approached by prospective buyers. In fact, our data suggests that a third of the deals we process come about from buyers approaching the client.

During a recent webinar, Equiteq Managing Director Bruce Ramsay answered questions from attendees on the subject of how to handle an approach from a buyer and what to do to maximize the opportunity from such an approach.

1. Will my business be worth more if a buyer approaches me, instead of going to market?

Your business could potentially be worth more if a buyer approaches you, as an incoming enquiry is an indication of proactive interest.

However, it is important to gauge the credibility of an unsolicited approach as soon as possible, as many are just ‘kicking the tyres’ and seeing if they can acquire an asset at a knock-down price. Understanding the buyer’s intention early on will help you understand whether this is an endeavor worth following up with or not.

Here’s what to expect from consulting firm buyers.

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December 2016: Consulting Market Update

Consulting M&A Activity and Equiteq Consulting Share Price Index Performance

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By Ramone Param, Market Insights & Buyer Coverage Associate, Equiteq.

2016 ended with a number of high-profile deals being signed across all five of our knowledge-intensive services segments. The share prices of many listed consultants that form part of our Equiteq Consulting Share Price Index also reached record highs. This continued strong investor confidence in the sector is also observed across other industries as reflected by the strong gains of the S&P 500 and Dow Jones, as well as the FTSE 100 which reached an all-time high by year end.

december-update-blog-image-1The largest deal to be announced in December was KKR & Co.’s acquisition of cyber-security specialist, Optiv Security, from The Blackstone Group. The deal followed Blackstone’s filing for an initial public offering of Optiv last month. The sale of the business follows a number of recent high-profile and lucrative private equity exits of portfolio companies operating in the consulting sector, including the sale of Pactera by Blackstone and the sale of AlixPartners by CVC Capital Partners. We expect that these successful landmark sales will support strong appetite from financial buyers investing in the sector in the New Year.

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November 2016: Consulting Market Update

Consulting M&A Activity and Equiteq Consulting Share Price Index Performance

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By Ramone Param, Market Insights & Buyer Coverage Associate, Equiteq.

In November, we continued to observe strong deal activity amongst prolific IT services buyers such as Accenture, Cognizant and CGI Group. This month’s sale of AlixPartners by CVC Capital Partners also marked one of the largest private equity exits within the consulting industry. With respect to equity market performance, U.S.-based listed consultants tracked within the Equiteq Consulting Share Price Index have rallied following the Presidential election result. This is expected to be reflective of hopes amongst many investors of an improved business outlook in the U.S. stemming from future fiscal stimulus plans, corporate tax rate reductions and regulatory reforms.

CVC Capital Partners agreed to sell its stake in AlixPartners to company founder Jay Alix, as well as to investment firms: Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, Public Sector Pension Investment Board and Investcorp Group. The deal values AlixPartners at over $2.5bn and implies a current year revenue multiple of approximately 2.5x.

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