Larger Players Squeeze Mid Market PE Firms

As reported in the Wall Street Journal, it is a difficult time to be a mid-market private-equity firm. Larger competitors, a seller's market and high valuations are combining to create a difficult atmosphere for smaller firms. “We have been getting blown out of the water on bids. Everything is going to auction, that wasn’t the case 10, even five years ago.” said Stratton Heath, partner at Oak Hill Capital Partners, this past Friday. Traditionally, PE firms could come in and make a bid that was persuasive enough for a company to not need to consider an auction process, but sellers are becoming more and more selective.  This also could lead to buyer's remorse; if you're paying top dollar to win a bidding war for a middle market firm, you'd better be right. Read the entire article here.

2013 PE Deal Flow Review

February 13, 2014 11:32 by Clayton Reeves in   //  Tags: , , , , , , ,   //   Comments (0)
McGladrey recently released reports on PE activity in four sectors: business products & services, healthcare, information technology and consumer products. Business Products & Services: The first half of 2013 represented one of the worst periods of the last several years for B2B deal making. The first two quarters suffered a hangover effect from the rush to close deals at the end of 2012, and took the first six months of 2013 to recover. While Q3 and Q4 were better, they couldn't make up for the lack of performance over the first half of the year. This is surprising, as 2012 had the most PE exits in B2B in the last ten years. Many expected those exits to spur additional investments, but instead PE mostly sat on their cash. 2014 is expected to be better. Healthcare: Once a rock in an uncertain sea of M&A, not even healthcare could escape unscathed from 2013. Deal flow in the healthcare industry contracted for the first time in 2013 since 2009. Although the number of deals consummated was still historically high at 280, capital invested declined for the second straight year. Industry experts blame a variety of factors on the hesitation to invest in healthcare, foremost amongst those reasons being the affordable care act. Once there is more certainty around the evolving regulations, investors are expected to have more confidence in evaluating acquisitions. Information Technology: PE deal makers broke a streak of three straight years of increased deal making in IT, but capital invested soared 55% to $86.5 billion. IT companies continue to perform well as technology continues to make its presence known in professional and personal applications. McGladrey expects 2014 to be slightly better. Consumer Products: M&A in the B2C industry followed general industry trends, declining 14 percent from 2012 to 2013. Capital invested was the highest it has been since 2008, but consumer products companies continue to struggle as confidence continues to improve gradually. Q4 was difficult for consumer products companies, as holiday sales increased revenues at the expense of margins. McGladrey believes the pipeline is stocked with deals compared to the same time last year, since Q4 2013 did not see the same rush to close as Q4 2012 did. Access the full reports here.

KPMG: Deal Activity in 2014 Expected to Improve

KPMG recently released the results of a survey given to over 1,000 deal makers with regards to 2014 M&A prospects. In short, deal activity is expected to improve in 2014. However, 2013 was also heralded by many as the year that would see M&A really take off and it didn't quite come to fruition.  Several mega-deals notwithstanding, 2013 fell short of expectations. So what makes 2014 different?   According to the survey, deal makers felt relatively positive about the environment and 63% of respondents said they planned to be acquirers in 2014. Most of this optimism was the result of large cash reserves, favorable/available credit terms, improving equity markets and improved overall confidence. However, as one investment banker put it, deals should most likely increase "because next year can't possibly be as bad as this year." This is where the questions really start. Many of the economic drivers present at the beginning of 2014 were also present in 2013. Private equity has piles of dry powder, corporate balance sheets are stocked with cash and money is cheap to borrow. However, all of these factors were also present in 2013. Instead of an increase in overall activity, we saw an increase in PE exits. So why would activity suddenly increase? According to the results below, most respondents expected targets to "become available." From our experience in the market, there are plenty of motivated buyers, but quality companies wanting to sell have been scarce. If this situation changes in 2014, the activity will most likely be very high. Some companies that we've spoken to have been anxious to eclipse pre-recession levels before having a liquidity event. Others are optimistic about the market in general, and want to leverage their growth opportunities utilizing cheap borrowed capital. The latter of those reasons won't change in 2014, but if some companies reach their targeted EBITDA numbers, sales could increase.   Click here to read the full report from KPMG. Hopefully, the conclusions drawn from their survey will come to fruition and 2014 will be a "solid" year.

VC Dollars Disappear in Clean Energy

January 17, 2013 09:54 by Bill Conway in Energy  //  Tags: ,   //   Comments (0)
Venture Capital’s presence in the clean energy space has vanished in recent years. Is it due to the expiration of incentives? The lack of exit opportunities? The high-profile bankruptcies? Or the lack of competitive products? Regardless, the clean energy market needs seed capital to exist. [More]

China & It's Deal Appetite

December 12, 2012 11:35 by Bill Conway in Capital Markets, Economy, Financing, M&A  //  Tags: , ,   //   Comments (0)
The combination of access to capital and global opportunities is going to be fun to watch as China companies, funds and investors target US entities. Many foreign companies are willing to consider Chinese partners, but the fact that four-fifths of the Chinese acquirers are state-owned enterprises, may prove challenging in getting deals done. Dealmakers suggest China companies pursue minority interests as a means of satisfying their buying urge. [More]

Private Equity Deal Flow

August 1, 2012 16:06 by David Patterson in M&A  //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)
David Patterson | May 24, 2012 Private equity merger and acquisition (“M&A”) activity slowed down in the first quarter 2012.  There were 321 deals completed in the first quarter 2012 compared to 426 in the fourth quarter 2011 – a 25% decline.  Deal value also dropped from $89 billion to $55 billion – a 38% down turn. As the graph below indicates, deal flow continues to be well below the levels seen before the Great Recession.  The first quarter 2012 completed deals nearly tied the recent low at 318 in the third quarter 2009.     Source:  Pitchbook, Merrill Datasite        

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