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

  • Major deals profiled include Guidehouse’s acquisition of Navigant Consulting, BC Partners’ purchase of Presidio and Accenture’s acquisition of Parker Fitzgerald.
  • The Equiteq Knowledge Economy Share Price Index declined over the month in line with broader equity markets.

Veritas Capital-backed Guidehouse acquires Navigant Consulting in a landmark management consulting transaction.

Target: Navigant Consulting is a US-headquartered global professional services firm that was listed on the NYSE.

Buyer: Guidehouse is a US-headquartered provider of management consulting services to government clients. Guidehouse formed following Veritas Capital’s acquisition of PwC’s public sector advisory business last year.

Deal value: $1.1bn (1.4x TTM Jun-2019 revenue)

Deal insight: 

The acquisition of Navigant will create a major management consulting player with deep industry expertise. Guidehouse has worked on high-profile lucrative engagements with government agencies such as the department of defense, homeland security and veterans affairs. These government-focused advisory capabilities will be merged with Navigant’s strengths in consulting to the healthcare, energy and financial services sectors.

The sale of PwC’s government consulting business to Veritas Capital was followed by a rebranding of the business to “Guidehouse” last Summer. The divestiture is expected to allow PwC to focus on the growth of other parts of its advisory business and to enable it to pursue more business in auditing government agencies. This audit business was being limited due to professional standards which cap consulting services that audit firms can provide to these agencies.

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

  • Major deals profiled include Bain Capital’s acquisition of Kantar, Tech Mahindra’s acquisition of Mad*Pow and PA Consulting’s purchase of 4iNNO.
  • Equiteq advised WGroup on its sale to Wavestone and RevUnit on its investment from Mountaingate Capital.
  • The Equiteq Knowledge Economy Share Price Index dipped slightly over the month.

WPP sells research and analytics business Kantar to Bain Capital.

Target: Kantar is a UK-headquartered research, data and insights business that was owned by global marketing network WPP.

Buyer: Bain Capital is a US-headquartered multi-asset alternative investment firm.

Deal value: $3.1bn (1.5x TTM Dec-2018 revenue)

Deal insight: In June, The Drum reported that WPP was in the process of selling Kantar. It was noted that Vista Equity Partners, Apollo, Platinum, as well as Bain, were four US private equity’s bidding for the research unit. The private equity focused process exemplifies a broader trend of strong demand for major knowledge-intensive services businesses from cash-rich financial buyers that are supported by robust fresh fundraisings. Kantar’s investment from Bain Capital follows the financial buyer’s acquisition of digital consulting firm Brillio in January.

WPP is undertaking a crucial transformation of its business following the resignation of Sir Martin Sorrell last year and Mark Read’s appointment as the marketing network’s new CEO. WPP recently sold its stake in Globant to pay down debt and announced internal mergers of agencies to create a more comprehensive digital-focused offerings for its clients. This is part of a three-year plan of “radical evolution” that was outlined by Read to improve WPP’s business performance. This is aimed at better positioning WPP for growth by countering new competition from innovative non-traditional media competitors from the consulting and technology sectors.

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

By Ramone Param, Director, Equiteq

Major deals profiled include Capgemini’s acquisition of Altran, Tieto’s acquisition of EVRY and CVC’s acquisition of Teneo.
The Equiteq Knowledge Economy Share Price Index rose over the month.

Capgemini and Altran create a global digital transformation leader with strong ER&D capabilities.

Target: Altran is a France-headquartered provider of engineering and R&D services.

Buyer: Capgemini is a France-headquartered global provider of consulting, IT services and digital transformation.

Deal value: €3.6bn (1.2x TTM Dec-2018 revenue)

Deal insight:
The purchase of Altran will enable Capgemini to take a leading position as a service provider focused on engineering, research and development (ER&D) as part of the digital transformation of industrial and tech companies. The acquisition is a milestone transaction for Capgemini that builds on previous deal flow in areas like digital media, cyber security and financial services consulting. This includes the purchase last year of digital consulting firm LiquidHub, which was acquired for €400m from ChrysCapital. The buyer followed this acquisition with the launch of Capgemini Invent, which combined Capgemini Consulting and expertise in technology and data science. The new brand comprised LiquidHub, innovation consulting firm Fahrenheit 212, as well as creative design agencies Idean, Adaptive Lab and Backelite. The acquisition of Altran, along with these recent acquisitions and restructurings, better positions Capgemini against growing digital transformation competitors like Accenture, Cognizant and the Indian IT services players.

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

By Ramone Param, Director, Equiteq

  • Major deals profiled include Orange’s acquisition of SecureLink, Perficient’s acquisition of Sundog Interactive and Tetra Tech’s purchase of WYG.
  • The Equiteq Knowledge Economy Share Price Index dipped slightly over the month.

Orange deepens its cybersecurity capabilities in Europe.

Target: SecureLink is a Netherlands-headquartered provider of security consulting, security maintenance and support, as well as advanced managed detection and response capabilities.

Buyer: Orange is a France-headquartered provider of a range of telecommunications, data transmission and related services.

Enterprise value: €515m (2.1x FY 2018 revenue)

Deal insight:  Orange accelerates its growth in the European cybersecurity market with its acquisition of SecureLink, one of the largest independent services players in the region. Demand for cybersecurity solutions is growing as technology plays a greater role in critical business functions across industries. According to data from ResearchAndMarkets.com, Europe’s cybersecurity market is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 11.3% and will be worth $47.2bn by 2023.

The purchase of SecureLink follows Orange’s acquisition of UK-based cybersecurity specialist SecureData, which was purchased at the beginning of the year. These deals, along with the acquisition of Business & Decision, form part of Orange’s strategy to become a global player in digital transformation and data services.

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

By Ramone Param, Director, Equiteq

  • Industry deals profiled include Accenture’s acquisition of Droga5, S4 Capital’s acquisition of Caramel Pictures and ProgMedia, and Publicis’ purchase of Epsilon.
  • The Equiteq Knowledge Economy Share Price Index rose with broader equity market indices over the month.

Accenture’s purchase of Droga5 exemplifies the rapid transformation of the digital media competitive landscape

Target: Droga5 is a US-headquartered advertising agency with over 500 employees that has worked with a variety of blue-chip clients including Amazon and The New York Times.

Buyer: Accenture is an Ireland-headquartered global technology services firm.

Deal insight: Droga5 is the largest agency acquisition that Accenture has made to date. The deal further entrenches Accenture Interactive as a major player in the digital media space, putting pressure on the “Big Six” traditional media networks – WPP, Omnicom, Publicis, Havas, IPG and Dentsu. It will also put pressure on acquisitive growing consulting and technology firms that have already entered the space, including Capgemini, Cognizant and Deloitte Digital.

The deal forms part of another active year of deal flow for Accenture. Last year, Accenture Interactive was named the largest digital network worldwide by Advertising Age in its annual agency report for the third year running. Accenture Interactive’s major deals through 2018 included Adaptly in the US, Mackevision in Germany, Meredith Xcelerated Marketing (MXM) in the US, HO Communication in China and Altima in France.

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The Knowledge Economy Global M&A Report 2019

By Ramone Param, Director, Equiteq

We have released a summary of our detailed review of knowledge economy M&A and investor trends for owners of consulting and technology businesses.

  • 2018 was a year of strong M&A activity within an industry undergoing unprecedented change.
  • Deal volumes, average transactions sizes and median revenue valuation metrics rose.
  • Deal structures were more competitive, as observed by a rise in the upfront cash component and a shortening of the earn-out period for the average deal.
  • The Equiteq Knowledge Economy Share Price Index declined with broader equity market indices, but ended the year well above long-term averages.
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March 2019: Knowledge Economy M&A and Equity Market Update

By Ramone Param, Director, Equiteq

  • Industry deals profiled include CGI’s offer to acquire Acando, Accenture’s purchase of Enterprise System Partners and Version 1’s acquisition of TE4B.
  • The Equiteq Knowledge Economy Share Price Index was broadly flat over the month.

CGI makes recommended offer to acquire Acando to strengthen its capabilities in Northern Europe.

Target: Acando is an IT and management consulting business headquartered in Sweden.

Buyer: CGI Group is a Canada-headquartered IT services and business consulting firm.

Deal size: $459m (1.5x TTM revenue)

Deal insight:CGI is a global technology services player with a strong model of organic growth and M&A. The buyer has made numerous acquisitions over recent years that have expanded its global consulting and technology capabilities. Its most recent offer to acquire Acando will deepen its presence in Northern Europe adding over 2,100 professionals across the region. The purchase will expand the buyer’s strategic consulting, system integration and digital innovation capabilities. The deal builds on CGI’s €98m acquisition of Affecto in 2017. Affecto is a data analytics business headquartered in Finland.

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