Q3 M&A Update: Robust overall global deal activity across the consulting sector, with large variations by segment

  • Overall global deal activity +1% year-on-year
  • Strong rise within Management Consulting and Media segments
  • Strongest deal flow in North America
  • Equiteq Consulting Share Price Index reaches new highs

By Ramone Param, Associate Director, Equiteq

Overall global deal activity in the consulting sector rose by 1% year-on-year. Deal volumes were flat as compared with the second quarter. These overall trends masked large variations in deal activity amongst market segments. The Equiteq Consulting Share Price Index continues to show record highs as investor confidence in the sector remains strong.

M&A Activity strongest in the Media Agency and Management Consulting segments

Despite notable deals occurring in HR and IT, deal activity fell in these segments. There was a strong rise in M&A within Management Consulting and Media. Engineering deal activity rose strongly against the prior quarter, but remains broadly flat on the same quarter last year.

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Equiteq advises CMF Associates on its sale to CBIZ, Inc.


Equiteq is pleased to announce that it has advised CMF Associates (“CMF”), a leading provider of financial and operational consulting services to the private equity sector, on the sale of its business to CBIZ, a national, publicly-traded professional business services firm.

This transaction highlights Equiteq’s position as the leading global provider of advisory services exclusively to firms in the knowledge-intensive business services sector.

Founder and Managing Partner at CMF, Thomas Bonney said, “CMF sought a committed partner who shared our growth-oriented vision of scaling our position as a premier service provider to private equity and their expanding portfolio. We found in CBIZ an advocate that will provide us with offices across the country, complementary tangential services and the resources to drive portfolio value creation in a more comprehensive way and on a national scale.”

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May 2017: Consulting M&A Update

By Ramone Param, Associate Director, Equiteq.

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.

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The highest price for your consulting business may well come from outside your core industry

The most prolific acquirers of knowledge-led businesses are undergoing unprecedented diversification and convergence across adjacent consulting segments and sectors. At the same time, digital transformation is driving hybrid business models with consulting, technology and managed service revenue. This change is fuelling high levels of M&A activity from trade and private equity investors, which we review in our 2017 M&A report. For owners considering selling their business, an appreciation of these trends is critical to uncovering the synergistic buyers that may offer the highest value.

Convergence between consulting offerings

Global consulting clients are increasingly looking to their advisors for best-in-class, end-to-end consulting solutions. These trends are driving established consulting buyers to use M&A to enter new geographies and acquire complementary capabilities.

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Private Equity firms demonstrate strong demand for consulting businesses

Eight mistakes when building a sale-ready business

By Alex White, Managing Director, Head of M&A and Strategic Advisory  Europe, and Ramone Param, Associate Director, Market Intelligence & Buyer Coverage.

Private equity (PE) providers are enthusiastic investors in knowledge intensive business services.  Last year was marked by some headline grabbing exits and new investments by the largest global buyout firms and this had a re-affirming effect on PE’s keen interest in this space.  These included KKR’s acquisition of Optiv Security from Blackstone, as well as the sales of AlixPartners by CVC and the divestment of Carlyle’s remaining stake in Booz Allen Hamilton.

Our own experience of achieving many great outcomes for clients who secured PE investment in 2016, and the line of investors queuing at our door for deal flow, bodes well for owners in 2017.

Sustaining growth in successful businesses – an owners challenge

A challenge for many owners of valuable businesses is the changing attitude to risk that creeps up as success is achieved. It’s natural for sentiment to shift from value creation to value preservation. While natural, it’s also a sure sign that owners’ personal financial portfolios are out of balance and a warning that excess cautiousness will be sub-optimal for their business in the longer term.

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Equiteq advises P2 Consulting on MBO led by Lonsdale Capital Partners

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Equiteq is pleased to announce that it has advised its client P2 Consulting on a management buyout led by the existing management team and supported by Lonsdale Capital Partners. Equiteq acted as exclusive financial advisor to P2 Consulting. The transaction closed on December 23, 2016.

London headquartered P2 provides senior project management support to international blue chip clients that are undertaking significant change initiatives. P2 has grown significantly year-on-year since being established in 2013 and currently generates revenues of around £10m, principally from clients in the financial services and consumer/retail sectors.

With Lonsdale’s investment and wider support, P2 intends to accelerate its growth by expanding into new sectors and geographies, and capitalizing on attractive acquisition opportunities in a fragmented space. P2 is aiming to continue its impressive growth trajectory and realize its ambition to become the world’s leading brand in project and programme management.

Pip Peel, Founder of P2 Consulting, said “Given their consulting sector M&A experience, Equiteq was the natural choice for us when we started to explore options for the business. Equiteq ran a comprehensive process and, guided by them, we concluded that a private equity backed MBO would give the best outcome to shareholders, management and the company going forward. Equiteq introduced Lonsdale and we immediately recognized their experience and the cultural fit would make them the ideal partner.”

To see the full press release, please click here.

To see all our deals, please click here.

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Equiteq advises HS2 Solutions on its investment from Mountaingate Capital

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Equiteq is pleased to announce that it has advised HS2 Solutions, Inc. (HS2), a full-service digital transformation agency offering a broad range of strategy, experience design, development, analytics, and marketing execution services to help clients address their digital priorities, on an investment from Mountaingate Capital (Mountaingate), a Denver-based private equity firm. The transaction closed on November 1, 2016.

Colton King, Managing Director of Mountaingate, said “We are thrilled that Phil and Keith have selected Mountaingate to be their partner; the market opportunity for digital transformation agencies such as HS2 with a value proposition centered on customer experience is very compelling.”

Phil Hollyer, CEO and Co-Founder of HS2, said “Mountaingate brings a unique market perspective stemming from their extensive digital agency services investment experience that will be invaluable as we look to prioritize strategic investments to accelerate our growth and better serve our clients.”

Phil Hollyer said “We initially hired Equiteq to assess the value and market attractiveness of our business. Given their IT and marketing services industry focus and M&A advisory expertise, Equiteq was the logical choice to be our exclusive advisor for the overall process. Equiteq orchestrated a comprehensive and engaging transaction process, demonstrating a keen understanding of the buyer / investor landscape and providing us with sound advice every step of the way. The process led to a handful of transaction pathways to choose from, and Equiteq came through on their value promise and their commitment to delivering a successful transaction outcome.”

To see the full press release, please click here.

To see all our deals, please click here.

Registering free for Equiteq Edge will allow you to access content and insight to help you prepare your business for sale or sell your business