Equiteq Edge Monthly Update – Knowledge Economy Share Price Index Recovers Most of Covid-19 Losses

As you’re all deeply aware, Covid-19 has impacted markets, supply chains, technologies and talent across the Knowledge Economy.

In line with our mission to help owners and sector firms to grow, acquire and realize equity value, over the last month Equiteq has been providing resources to help navigate these difficult times, including:

  • Our webinar “Protecting your equity value during the downturn”, the recording of which is available here: https://youtu.be/nj9i2CSRGkk  (email info@equiteq.com if you would a copy of the slides and our associated 100 Tips book)
  • Detailed sub-sector reports describing Covid-19 impacts on M&A in management consulting, technology services & outsourcing, HCM, engineering services, and software & SaaS. (Email us for a copy of the report for your industry)

We also know from talking to clients that many firms are continuing to perform strongly through C-19, and proving highly resilient.

While M&A markets have been disrupted, they have not shut down. In fact, for some firms, COVID-19 could create a unique window to realize equity value. Therefore, our next webinar will aim to help owners of resilient firms decide whether to consider M&A now.  You can register for that webinar here:

https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/2315894787079/WN_Dp4hb29nTleyPWwctaEYtw

In the meantime, here are some highlights from April and early May:

  • Knowledge Economy Share Price Index recovered from March lows, in line with broader equity indices. The index is now above the value of 1 year ago, although some sub-sectors are still down.
  • Major deals. Profiles highlighted are Accenture’s acquisitions of Gekko and Yesler; WhiteSky Labs being bought by CapGemini Australia; and Investcorp Technology Partners acquisition of German cybersecurity software solutions company Avira.

Knowledge Economy Share Price Index:

Note: The Equiteq Knowledge Economy Share Price Index is the weighted average of Equiteq’s six segmental indices and is the only published share price index which tracks the listed companies within the knowledge economy. The index is continually revised to consider newly listed companies and to remove businesses that are no longer relevant in each quarter.

Accenture acquires Gekko to strengthen its cloud innovation.

Target: Gekko is a Paris-based Amazon Web Services (AWS) business, supporting enterprise migrations and cloud development in end-to-end Intelligent Cloud & Infrastructure services.

Buyer: Accenture, global consulting and technology services, reinforcing its AWS global community of more than 8,000 trained professionals, with over 20 AWS competencies and service delivery designations.

Deal insight: Accenture AWS Business Group (AABG) within Accenture Technology in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands will reinforce its ability to innovate and transform clients’ businesses in line with evolving customer expectations.  With cloud, AI, and DevOps skills more clients will benefit from on-shore AWS fully automated cloud operations and FinOps capabilities.  Gekko’s delivery center, with over 100 trained professionals is located in the west of France.

The acquisition will enhance Accenture’s position as one of the leading providers of AWS expertise and cloud transformation in the French market and help more organizations to leverage their journey to the cloud, accelerating their digital transformations, growing their businesses and improving customer experiences.

Despite exceeding $4bn in annual revenue, ServiceNow continues to grow at a stellar rate as it broadens its software solutions. KPMG is a Platinum ServiceNow Partner and was named Americas Partner of the Year 2019 and Americas Transformation Partner of the Year 2020. KPMG is undertaking a multi-year investment program focused on combining KPMG’s deep industry expertise with expertise in technology ecosystems like ServiceNow, as well as Workday, Salesforce, Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and Alibaba Cloud.

Accenture Buys B2B Marketing Services Agency Yesler

Target: Yesler provides business-to-business (B2B) marketing services.

Buyer: Accenture provides B2B marketing services worldwide.

Deal insight: Accenture’s acquisition of Yesler continues to strengthen and scale the company’s B2B marketing services, adding depth in offerings such as account-based marketing, customer advocacy, sales enablement, and marketing automation. With more than 400 people globally, Yesler is headquartered in Seattle and has additional offices in Portland, Philadelphia, London, Toronto, and Singapore. Post-transaction, Yesler will be integrated into Accenture Interactive and further enhance the company’s complete set of B2B services, ranging from strategy and creative to ongoing management and support. 

Accenture’s acquisition of Yesler highlights the continued convergence between traditional creative agencies and management consultancies.  As brands continue to adapt their marketing and consumer engagement models, it is likely that agency and consultancy offerings will continue to merge and brands will continue to seek out firms that offer a data-heavy, analytics approach to marketing.

Capgemini Australia acquires Mulesoft Partner WhiteSky Labs.

Target: WhiteSky Labs is a leading Australian privately owned Mulesoft Practice.

Buyer: Capgemini is a global consulting firm listed on the Paris stock exchange.

Deal insight: Multinational consulting firm Capgemini has acquired Sydney-headquartered MuleSoft partner WhiteSky Labs for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition expands the consulting giant’s digital transformation capabilities in Asia Pacific while also adding more than 150 staff across Australia, Singapore and the Philippines. Whitesky Labs is one of the largest independent MuleSoft full-service consultancies in the region.

Since being acquired by Salesforce in March 2018, MuleSoft has experienced exceptional growth. For the past several years Capgemini had been quiet on the acquisition front in Australia, but this acquisition may mark the beginning of more deal activity from them.

Investcorp Technology Partners acquires German cybersecurity software solutions company Avira for $180m.

Target: Avira is a leading antivirus and other cybersecurity software solutions business, headquartered in Germany.

Buyer: Investcorp is a Bahrain-headquartered global manager of alternative investment products. Investcorp Technology Partners is a direct private investment arm of Investcorp for European technology companies.

Deal insight: Founded in 1986 by Tjark Auerbach, Avira has grown without external funding to be a well-known brand with a strong position in its markets. The company is particularly well known for its anti-virus suite of products, licensed into the European and Asian OEMs and Consumer markets as own-branded as well as white-label. This acquisition will support the business growth, expansion into new geographies, and development of its comprehensive cybersecurity offering in areas such as anti-malware, threat intelligence, identify management and IoT.

The transaction, which remains subject to anti-trust approval, values Avira at $180m and brings in Investcorp Technology Partners as majority shareholders, with Tjark Auerbach remaining a significant shareholder.

Are you a member of Equiteq Edge? It’s full of content to help owners of knowledge-intensive companies prepare for sale and sell their businesses. Register here to gain full access.

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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July 2017: Consulting M&A Update

By Ramone Param, Associate Director, Equiteq

DXC Technology acquires Microsoft Dynamics 365 specialist Tribridge

DXC Technology made its first acquisition after forming in April following the merger of CSC and the Enterprise Services unit of Hewlett Packard Enterprise. The technology giant acquired 740-person Microsoft Dynamics 365 consulting firm Tribridge and its managed cloud business Concerto Cloud Services.  The deal is expected to enhance the buyer’s consulting offerings focused on clients in health care, government, consumer packaged goods, and professional services.

Tribridge is one of the largest independent integrators of Microsoft Dynamics 365 and is a six-time winner of Dynamics 365 Worldwide and U.S. Partner of the Year. Tribridge will become part of DXC Eclipse, an IT application consulting business acquired by the business in October 2015 for c.$300m.

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June 2017: Consulting M&A Update

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By Ramone Param, Associate Director, Equiteq

Accenture acquires Salesforce specialist Phase One

Accenture agreed to acquire Phase One Consulting Group, a Virginia-based digital transformation specialist for the federal market with strong capabilities in Salesforce cloud solutions. Phase One will join Accenture Federal Services upon completion of the deal.

Phase One offers secure cloud implementation and consulting services to federal agencies for projects across various government sectors. The business had backing from RLJ Equity Partners, who acquired Phase One in early 2015. The company also received an undisclosed amount of development capital from Salesforce Ventures in September of last year.

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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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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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October 2016: Consulting Market Update

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By Ramone Param, Buyer Coverage Associate, Equiteq.

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

As we anticipated in our third quarter update, significant deal activity is continuing to occur in the IT services segment, with a number of notable transactions in the sector being announced this month. This comes as the broader M&A market has observed a wave of mega deals across sectors, with October being reported as one of the busiest months for deal activity in the US, according to data from Dealogic.

In the month, the share prices of many listed consulting players contained within the Equiteq Consulting Share Price Index were impacted by quarterly earnings announcements, the release of macroeconomic data and US Presidential election uncertainty. The share price of WPP, a constituent of the Equiteq Media Share Price Index, was boosted by stronger than expected third quarter earnings. These results were in contrast to weaker quarterly earnings from some of its peers like Publicis. This variation in results amongst large listed media players has led some equity analysts to attribute these differences to rising competition for key client accounts as the evolution of digital media continues to disrupt the industry.

There were three notable deals announced this month within the IT Services segment:

  • In our recent article analyzing trends within Cloud Consulting M&A, we discussed the landmark acquisition of Appirio by leading Indian IT-Services player, Wipro, for $500m. Appirio will position Wipro as the leading Indian technology services player in the cloud services space.
  • The Blackstone Group sold Chinese IT outsourcing and consulting firm, Pactera, to a unit of Chinese shipping and air giant HNA Group. This deal reportedly values the business at c.$930m and returns Blackstone c.1.5 times on its initial investment of over $600m that it made in March 2014.
  • Aon agreed to acquire a 550-person US-based cyber-security specialist called Stroz Friedberg. The deal was seen as a move within the insurance industry to capitalize on the risk management opportunities from rising client concerns over cyber threats.

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