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.
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.
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.
A no-surprises and smooth due diligence (DD) process underpins every successful deal, closed on the terms agreed before exclusivity. Ideally confirmatory in nature rather than a voyage of discovery, DD provides comfort to the potential acquirer and helps the vendor agree a better set of share purchase agreement warranties and indemnities. On the flip side, material surprises can lead to adverse re-negotiations and a drawn-out process can be distracting and lead to financial under performance.
There is a golden rule in M&A: issues will fill the available time. Being well prepared and due diligence ready is key to driving a fast completion process, protecting value and shoring up buyers’ confidence.
In some jurisdictions, commissioning vendor due diligence is quite common. It enables sellers to manage the timetable, better prepare for buyer due diligence and by disclosing reports to the final shortlisted parties, mitigates issues while there is competitive tension in the sale process. As ever, the benefits need to be weighed against the costs.
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.”
Leadership succession involving a transition from the founders has its own specific challenges. Founders leave a huge legacy in the business, which in one sense is extremely valuable but can also result in a level of dependency that introduces risk.
Governance roles will change at exit, when an owner/founder will typically move from an executive position. The challenge here is that the owner/founder will need to be conscious of their change in role and step back sufficiently to allow successors to create their own leadership identity, while still continuing to offer their unique skills and experience in a broader governance role.
If you’re a founder preparing for a transition, getting it right involves ensuring you set up the new CEO for success, while simultaneously moving away from the operational side of the business and continuing to add value.
The difficulty for founders is they are used to being in control and making decisions independently, which means trusting the new leader can be difficult.
If they do achieve this, it ensures value is not diluted. In fact, it can result in value being enhanced.
Read our six steps to help founders achieve a successful leadership transition and listen to our webinar on the topic too!
FIS sells majority stake in Capco to private equity
Clayton, Dubilier & Rice announced their acquisition of a 60% majority stake in Capco from FIS, a leader in financial services technology. Capco is the public brand for FIS’ management consulting business and specializes in business, digital and technology consulting services for the financial services industry. FIS acquired Capco for $292m in 2010 and will receive net cash proceeds of $477m from the sale, while retaining a 40% stake in the business.
New Mountain acquires OneDigital Health and Benefits
OneDigital, one of the top buyers that we identified in the HR space, announced that it has been acquired in an all-cash deal by private equity investor New Mountain Capital. New Mountain is acquiring a majority ownership in the business from Fidelity National Financial Ventures for a reported $560m. The investment will be aimed at providing strategic guidance and industry expertise, while helping drive OneDigital’s continued growth.
OneDigital is the United States’ largest provider of employee benefits services and offers employers a combination of strategic advisory, analytics, compliance support, HR capital management tools and comprehensive insurance offerings. The business serves 35,000 companies and manages c.$4 billion in premiums.