The Knowledge Economy Global Buyers Report 2018/19

Strong demand for M&A in 2019 is driven by industry convergence with a desire among buyers to deepen industry and digital expertise

By Ramone Param, Director, Equiteq

  • Buyers expect to complete 5 acquisitions over the next 2 to 3 years
  • Private equity expect to acquire 75% more businesses than strategic buyers
  • The optimum turnover size for an acquisition rose 18% since 2016
  • Strong demand for artificial intelligence, data analytics and Internet of Things capabilities

The Knowledge Economy Global Buyers Report analyzes the findings of our fifth comprehensive independent survey of global strategic buyers and private equity investors acquiring businesses across the knowledge economy. The report provides exclusive insights into current M&A trends among buyers that acquire knowledge-intensive services businesses across five segments: management consulting, IT services, media agencies, engineering consulting and human resources.

The following summarizes the main trends discussed in more detail in our recently published Knowledge Economy Global Buyers Report.

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Q3 2018 Knowledge Economy Global M&A Update

Global deal values and valuation multiples continue to rise led by media agencies and IT services M&A

By Ramone Param, Director, Equiteq

  • The number of completed deals rose 12%
  • Median deal sizes nearly doubled vs. Q3 2017
  • Activity remains focused on media agencies and IT services
  • Strong rises in M&A in North America and APAC
  • Equiteq Knowledge Economy Share Price Index pushes to new highs

The global M&A market across the knowledge economy was strong in the third quarter of 2018. Market data from the quarter reflects a key trend we have been monitoring over the last eighteen months: global buyers are pushing ahead with larger deals at premium prices. This is partly down to strategic buyers and private equity having record capital available for M&A. Given the low interest rate environment, there is pressure to deploy this capital on larger transactions. Particularly amid increasing signs that quantitative easing programs are coming to an end across developed economies.

The following summarizes the main trends discussed in more detail in our recent Q3 2018 M&A update report.

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H1 2018 Knowledge Economy Global M&A Update

Buyers focused on a smaller number of transformational deals in the first half of the year, as tapering of quantitative easing programs accelerates

By Ramone Param, Director, Equiteq

  • Strong rise in average deal size and valuation multiples in H1 2018
  • The number of completed deals fell 5% on H1 2017
  • Activity remains focused on IT services and management consulting
  • Equiteq Knowledge Economy Share Price Index continues to reach new highs

Across the global knowledge economy in the first half of the year, average M&A deal sizes and valuation multiples rose markedly, but the number of completed deals fell. Many buyers pushed ahead with a smaller number of larger transformational deals for their businesses at premium prices in the current low interest rate environment. This is against a backdrop of rising signs that quantitative easing programs are coming to an end across developed economies.

The following trends are discussed in more detail in our recent mid-year M&A update report.

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Demand for acquisitions set to grow in 2018

Our fourth annual global survey of buyers of consulting businesses delivers current, actionable intelligence in the five segments Equiteq specializes in: Management consulting, IT consulting, Media & Marketing, Engineering consulting and HR consulting. Findings, published today, reveal:

  • Buyers expect to initiate 50% more acquisitions year-on-year
  • Convergence continues to be a key trend as buyers look to diversify
  • 55% of buyers think targets could be better at communicating their market proposition
  • 94% of buyers say it is important to retain management teams post-acquisition
  • Over 70% of targets do not make their IP apparent to prospective buyers
  • Three quarters of buyers expect at least 40% of a target’s clients to be blue chip
  • Deal structures are improving for sellers

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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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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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Global consulting M&A mixed in the second quarter, after a strong start to the year


By 
Ramone Param, Associate Director, Equiteq.

Equiteq’s quarterly market updates provide an indicative guide to current M&A market conditions in the consulting industry. However, it should be noted that we typically observe large variations between quarterly M&A volumes, which are not always reflective of longer term trends.

M&A activity was mixed in the second quarter after a strong start to the year. Overall global deal activity in the consulting sector fell by 12% quarter-on-quarter. Deal volumes fell by just 2% on the same quarter last year. The Equiteq Consulting Share Price Index rallied in the second quarter, achieving similar returns to the S&P 500.

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Equiteq named Boutique Investment Banking Firm of the Year


We are delighted to announce that Equiteq has won the Boutique Investment Banking Firm of the Year at the 9th Annual International M&A Advisor Awards. This recognition from The M&A Advisor comes hot on the heels of the 15th Annual American Business Awards, where Equiteq was awarded Bronze winner for Company of the Year – Banking & Financial Services – Small.

The Co-CEO and President of The M&A Advisor, David Fergusson, said “The 2017 International M&A Award winners represent the best of international M&A industry in 2016 who earned these honors by standing out in a group of very impressive finalists.”

Commenting upon the award, our CEO, David Jorgenson, said “I’m thrilled that for the second year in a row, an independent judging committee of top M&A industry experts determined that Equiteq should receive another highly acclaimed award. Equiteq has built a unique global boutique model that is 100% focused on helping owners of knowledge-intensive business services firms achieve their exit goals through sale preparation and transaction execution. We are very proud that our individuality and expertise has set us apart.”

To see all of our awards, please click here.

Are you a member of Equiteq Edge? It’s full of content to help consulting firm owners prepare for sale and sell their business. Register here to gain full access.

Equiteq sells behavioural assessment and development consultancy to PSI Services LLC


Equiteq, a global consulting and IT services sector M&A specialist, is pleased to announce the sale of the UK based A&DC Group (“a&dc”) to PSI Services LLC headquartered in California. As leaders in behavioural assessment and development, a&dc provides consultancy services and a comprehensive range of ready-to-use, tailored and bespoke products across the talent management spectrum.

Equiteq acted as exclusive financial advisor to a&dc. The transaction completed on June 5, 2017.

The acquisition of a&dc strengthens PSI’s core Talent Assessment offering.

Nigel Povah, CEO of a&dc commented “When I started a&dc 30 years ago, I was passionate about providing great assessment and development content. The a&dc portfolio – with over 250 assessments – will continue its journey alongside PSI’s assessment technology, which will drive the delivery of our robust assessment content into the digital era.”

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Artificial Intelligence developments are transforming customer experience

By Ramone Param, Associate Director, Equiteq.

We were pleased to recently attend the Salesforce World Tour in London and Boston, where we listened to speeches from Salesforce President, Keith Block, along with senior members of IBM Watson and Amazon Web Services. These talks focused on the transformation of customer experience as part of the so-called ‘fourth industrial revolution’. This revolution is being characterized by the convergence of cloud, social, mobile and technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

This trend is notably being observed through the development of eCommerce and smart devices, which now utilize predictive marketing and advanced data analytics. This technology is expected to become increasingly sophisticated with the rapid advances in AI.

Percentage of surveyed companies using or planning to use AI in the following ways

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