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Leisure Industry in M&A

The global leisure industry is comprised of restaurants, bars, hotels, casinos, sports facilities, travel agencies, tour operators and other customer-focused business segments. This industry is subject to some very specific influential factors such as geopolitics, weather conditions, natural catastrophes, fuel costs, and changing consumer habits and demands. Technology also plays a key role in how people plan their activities and choose to experience them. This presents new opportunities for growth, and at the same time, new challenges.

M&A can be used as an effective solution for vertical integration to fill gaps across the value chain and to offer more efficient global platforms in the leisure industry
and its subsectors.

Opportunities and Challenges

The impacts of new technologies can be beneficial to businesses, but they also present new obstacles. The good news is that people are never going to stop wanting to enjoy themselves. It’s just a matter of how they go about it that faces significant changes.

 

Ready to explore your exit and growth options?

 

  • Sports Venues: With large and complicated physical infrastructures, sports facilities aim to attract more fans, fill more seats, and maximize returns. Technology aids in getting fans to engage more and spend more money both in person and from their devices. The Internet offers viewers immediate access to scores, stats and updates. While this can enhance sports venues’ offerings, there is also the challenge of competing with home entertainment systems that allow consumers to create their own fan experience in the comfort of their own homes.
  • Travel Agencies and Online Booking: There was a time when booking a vacation meant picking up the phone and calling your travel agent. But today, people turn to travel booking websites and apps to plan their trips, leading to overhauled business models. Online travel agents are looking to expand, increase their geographic reach, and be more integral to their customers’ experiences. Additionally, in the world of platforms such as Expedia, Kayak and Priceline, there remains little differentiation among brands, keeping the segment ripe for consolidation.
  • The Gaming Industry: The loosening of sports-betting regulations is driving change in the gaming industry. People are increasingly able to gamble online in various capacities, and while casinos are adopting strategies to capitalize on these opportunities, there is still the prospect of less foot traffic that would have transferred to more money spent on in-house dining and other in-person gambling options. This sector is prime for consolidations and partnerships.
  • Restaurants: Once a very brick-and-mortar focused sector, new technologies allow customers to opt for food delivery companies and apps to bring dinner to them rather than dining out at a physical restaurant location.
  • The Cruise Industry: Cybersecurity is an important concern within this sector, as more people spend more time on their connected devices while they enjoy their cruise vacation. Personalized data-driven technology improves the passenger experience, but it also requires more integration so that more systems can share more information.
  • Hotels: Web platforms such as airbnb have changed how people lodge on their vacations, moving tourism traffic from concentrated urban areas to more residential neighborhoods.
  • Amusement Parks: Consumers seek out unique and immersive experiences through their tech. Theme parks are creating new partnerships to cater to these demands, and seeking out novel ways to tap into new markets. These partnerships can be less capital intensive and give businesses flexibility to adapt to changing trends.

 

Feel like it's a good time to sell?

 

Cross-Border M&A Considerations

Cross-border M&A transactions can involve several issues as political, cultural and economic environments evolve and regulations change. Certain due diligence factors should always be considered for these types of deals are expected to result in success stories.

  • Transaction framework: This involves careful evaluation of pricing (maximized value), timing, and certainty (public reputation and proof of funds)
  • Regulatory compliance: Focus on cybersecurity, foreign investment laws, national security laws, fraud, sanction violations, and money laundering
  • Antitrust and competition: This includes overlaps between brands, overlaps between operations, market concentration, and specific clearances
  • Technology and intellectual property: Thoroughly assess trademarks, domain names, IP rights, third-party licensing, existing claims, infrastructure, loyalty programs, data privacy laws, and databases

As with M&A transactions in any industry, there are several other areas that must be considered for due diligence and company valuation, including management agreements, financing, tax structures, employment issues, and other operational risks.

Contact Us

If you are thinking about selling your company, or would like to start exit planning, contact our M&A specialists at Benchmark International to start the process. We can help you understand your options and key factors for consideration, and get you on your way to a deal that works best for your vision of the future.

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Back to Confidence – Boris Johnson, Brexit & BAE Systems

After over three years since the EU referendum, where the UK voted to leave the EU, Boris Johnson signed the Withdrawal Agreement last Friday after the bill was passed to Royal Assent, therefore the UK will officially leave at 11pm (12am in Brussels) on 31st January.

So, what will officially leaving the EU mean for your business and investment into it?

Research by IW Capital, in which it asked 2,000 investors about life post-Brexit and the opportunities that will arise after the 31st January, has indicated that there will be an uptick in mergers and acquisitions. The research suggests that investors are positive about the UK’s prospects out of the EU, with 46% believing that if handled correctly, Brexit could be the best thing to happen to the UK economy. It also showed that 36% of those questioned believed that the UK will be a wealthier country, boosting their investment profile post-Brexit.

 

Ready to explore your exit and growth options?

 

It transpires that for 30% of those asked, it was in fact the handling of negotiations that affected investors’ decisions and not Brexit itself, so now that a date has been set and there is more certainty around Brexit, more investors will look to use their capital.

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Get To Know How Benchmark International Clients View Your Questions

Many buyers, particularly those working at private equity shops and family offices, have experience in larger markets and, therefore, with more financially oriented, data-driven sellers. If this describes your background, it can be helpful to consider the following insights about sellers in the middle markets. You might be surprised by some of these realities

1. If they were pilots, they would fly by sight, not by instrument. They do not make decisions based on data. They do not need the data. They walk the floor. They see how many trucks leave the yards every week. They are in on the big sales call. Their stepson runs the IT department. You of course want the data, but they have not been spending the time or money to collect it.

2. They may not have fully developed back offices. Our clients are successful and their businesses have grown, often beyond their expectations. They are good at what they do and they enjoy being in control. It is common for them to go without hiring a CFO, add staff at certain positions, or turn departments such as HR over to an expert. This means that they may be a little behind in developing the back office. While you might be tempted to chastise them for this, please consider that studies of our clients indicate that this is the number one reason they have come to market.

3. They may not have debt. It is surprising how many businesses with revenues up to $100 million have never had any material amount of debt, especially not bank debt. So, when you speak to them about using leverage in your transaction, or them rolling over into a leveraged business, be prepared for unexpected responses. In addition, recall the mantra that debt imposes discipline. Never having debt, these owners may not adhere to strict discipline when it comes to financial reporting, timely disbursement of invoices to clients, and keeping an eye on the GAAP or IFRS version of “cash flow.”

 

Ready to explore your exit and growth options?

 

4. They may view financial statements solely for tax preparation. It may seem a bit surprising, but studies of our clients indicate that the sole use many of them have for financial statements is to allow their accountant to prepare the business’s tax returns. With that in mind, you might see why monthly financials are not available or, if available, not overly reliable.

5. They may not focus on depreciation. Owner-operators are busy growing their businesses, not studying GAAP or IFRS. They may have some significant misconceptions about how depreciation works and why it matters. We do what we can to address this before you speak with our clients but, as they say, we don’t know what we don’t know. Please exercise care when interpreting anything a seller says about depreciation and when communicating these issues with sellers. For example, the difference between accumulated depreciation (on the balance sheet) and depreciation expenses (on the income statement) can trip up some conversations and knock deals off track. Similarly, the concepts of “capitalizing” versus “expensing” costs can get confusing in short order.

6. They may not use budgets or models. Many middle-market business owners started their companies when they were 18 and they never worked in the corporate world. They have worked successfully to this point without being exposed to the concept, or they have seen it just enough to view it as more of a hassle than a benefit. If you do not use budgets, you do not need to borrow money (see above), and you don’t need to build models. Without the historical data from budgets and elsewhere, it is difficult to even make a worthy model. Add to this the obvious issues with coming up with the two key valid assumptions—growth rate and discount rate—and there is simply no way to come up with meaningful models or projections, not to mention a reluctance to attempt to do so.

7. They may define CFO differently. The four terms “CFO,” “Controller,” “CPA,” and “Bookkeeper” are used interchangeably in middle-market companies. Each may have a preconceived meaning to you but there is a 75% chance that these businesses view these titles differently. Set aside your training and experience, try not to judge a book by its cover, and take the time to assess the person in that role (whatever it is called) before making any assumptions.

At Benchmark International, we are well aware of these circumstances. That is why our unique process is built to help you address them, to assist our clients in understanding your standpoint on topics such as these, and to help our clients better speak your language.

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4 Reasons Why the UK has Deal Appeal

Political uncertainty in the UK has been a hot topic for the last year, particularly due to Brexit delays. This has had an impact on dealmaking throughout Europe in 2019, however, as we enter into 2020, greater optimism is expected with regards to deal activity.

Ready to explore your exit and growth options?

So, what are the reasons for this positive outlook, and what are the reasons for the UK’s deal appeal?

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction of Osborn Equipment Sales, Inc. to Still Holding Company

Benchmark International has successfully facilitated the transaction of Osborn Equipment Sales, Inc. to Still Holding Company. Osborn Equipment Sales, Inc. has been in business for over 60 years and serves as a manufacturer’s representative of dry process material handling equipment to customers located within Oklahoma, Western Arkansas, and the Texas Panhandle.

Still Holding Company is owned by Roy Still, an individual with an M&A advisory background, who currently owns a diverse portfolio of businesses in the Tulsa, Oklahoma region, including funeral homes in the area.

Vice President, Keith Garoutte of Osborn Equipment Sales, Inc. commented, “We are a 60- year-old company located in Oklahoma. After 40 plus years of owning the company, my business partner and l were thinking about retirement. We were contacted by Benchmark International wanting to know if we were in the market to sell our company. It was perfect timing for both of us. Benchmark International sent a gentleman to meet with us and after several phone calls we had reached an agreement to have Benchmark International solicit our company for sale in March 2019. We supplied Benchmark International with all the information they had requested, and they proceeded to market our company. Benchmark International found several companies interested in purchasing our company and after only a few months we were in negotiations. We were finally able to close and collect our money on January 6, 2020. Benchmark International did an outstanding job in marketing our company. We were very impressed with their sales team and their sales and negotiation knowledge. Their sales experience made selling our company very easy and without headaches. I would definitely recommend Benchmark International if you want a professional and aggressive sales team to sell your business.”

Ready to explore your exit and growth options?

J.P. Santos, Associate at Benchmark International added, “Randy and Keith were a pleasure to work with and the Benchmark International team is excited that we were able to play a role in the successful sale of their business. From the beginning of the sales process, Randy and Keith were looking for a buyer who could continue their legacy of decades of high quality service, as well as, meet their goals from the sale as they look towards their future endeavors. Roy Still was able to accomplish both of those objectives and the company looks to continue its success under his stewardship.”

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Benchmark International has Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between Laser Trader Limited and MBA Engineering Systems Limited

Benchmark International is pleased to announce the transaction between Laser Trader and MBA Engineering.

Do you have an exit or growth strategy in place?

Laser Trader is an importer and distributor of high-tech laser cutting, cladding and welding equipment to UK customers in sectors including aerospace, research and heavy manufacturing. The company is the sole distributor in the UK and ROI for several world leading manufacturers of laser processing and diagnostic equipment in addition to retailing laser optics and a range of consumables and non-genuine parts.

MBA Engineering was founded in 2009 and sells Kimla fibre lasers, second hand Bystronic lasers, spare parts and consumables, as well as offering services such as breakdown assistance, preventative maintenance, customer training, machine moves, and installations.

The deal will allow MBA Engineering to access key distribution agreements with European manufacturers.

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2020 Outlook For The Global Energy Sector

The global energy mix is comprised of the oil, liquefied natural gas (LNG), coal, renewable energy, and electricity sectors. The landscape of this industry has seen a great deal of change over the years, and is primed for even more change in the future. Five years ago, fossil fuels accounted for 82 percent of global primary energy. This number is targeted to decline, with large growth in the natural gas and renewable energy sectors, especially wind and solar. However, a rising global population and economic growth make it challenging for renewables to keep up with demand, meaning that fossil fuels will remain a primary source as energy demand will rise one percent each year over the next 20 years.

Oil & Gas

Oil output is projected to remain on the rise in the next 10 years, with 85 percent of the production increase coming from the United States. At the same time, oil demand is expected to slow after 2025 due to better fuel efficiency and more electric vehicles, according to a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

In 2020, shale production in the U.S. is expected to continue to grow even as growth is slowing due to reduced capital expenditures from drillers. Additionally, exports of U.S oil and LNG are forecasted to grow as infrastructure capacity increases.

As the number of U.S. oil and gas companies in distress grows amid limited funding options, there is an opportunity for smaller firms to be acquired by bigger firms, or for them to merge in order to scale operations and reduce costs. M&A strategies may be more appealing to these companies than the option of restructuring through bankruptcy.

Oil and gas prices should remain range-bound this year as production increases from non-OPEC nations such as the U.S., Brazil, and Norway.

Internationally, oil markets will be affected by the ongoing trade negotiations between the U.S. and China, as well as the result of the March expiration of the OPEC+ pledge between OPEC and non-OPEC partners for deeper production cuts.

 

Ready to explore your exit and growth options?

 

Coal

The coal industry continues to experience challenges, including declining demand, bankruptcies, climate concerns, ownership changes, and mine closures. Coal production in the U.S. is expected to decline, along with the amount of energy production that relies on coal, which is at its lowest level in more than 40 years. In contrast to the struggling coal industry, increased growth is forecasted in the renewable energy sector. According to the IEA, market share for coal will fall from 38 percent today to 25 percent in 2040, largely due to a surge in more affordable solar power.

Renewable Energy

The outlook for the renewable energy industry in 2020 is quite favorable. The sector has already seen unprecedented growth propelled by increased demand, competitive costs, innovation, and the uniting of industry forces. Renewables are likely to become a preferred provider in electricity markets this year, as customers are more concerned with saving money and addressing climate change issues. Last year, renewable energy eclipsed coal for the first time ever in the United States, with wind and solar energy accounting for about half of renewable power generation. Companies that are poised to innovate and jump on new opportunities will be in a position to thrive in this new growth phase.

Some key points regarding this sector include the following:

  • China has been the largest investor in renewable energy capacity, committing $758 billion over the past decade. The U.S. follows at $356 billion, with Japan third at $202 billion.
  • Lower prices for renewable sources and battery storage have helped to drive growth in this industry, making wind and solar more competitive with traditional energy sources.
  • Several utility companies have already outlined goals for de-carbonization and more are expected to follow suit.
  • Renewable energy will need to be scaled up significantly in order to meet the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement.
  • In 2019, 11 of the 28 countries in the European Union already met their 2020 renewable energy targets, but there has been a gradual slowing of the rate of renewable use because costs have fallen and less investment is needed to install the same level of power capacity.
  • Grid modernization projects will also contribute to growth, as renewable microgrids are becoming more popular solutions for increased efficiency.
  • In the U.S., the Production Tax Credit has been extended for 2020. However, the amount of the Solar Investment Tax Credit will be reduced from 30 percent to 26 percent. Both of these credits have been important drivers of growth in this market.

 Electricity

Power and utility companies will face several priorities and challenges in 2020, but with a balance of careful strategic planning, digital innovation, and risk management, the industry can sustain growth throughout the year.

  • Clean energy remains a major priority, as many power and utility companies are setting their own clean energy goals to help customers make the transition.
  • Cyber security is an increasing concern, with vulnerabilities being a clear and present danger.
  • Preparation and response for natural disasters will be more significant as major storms have become more common around the world.
  • Providers will continue to be more focused on improving the customer experience.

Let’s Discuss Your Options

Please contact us at Benchmark International to talk about how we can help you grow your business or formulate a solid exit plan for the future, no matter what industry in which your company operates. We look forward to hearing from you.

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Benchmark International has Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between Action Doors and Dorma UK

Ready to explore your exit and growth options?

Benchmark International has advised on the transaction between automatic door installation, servicing and maintenance company, Action Doors, and trusted global partner for premium access solutions and services, Dorma UK.

Action Doors, established in 1996, is a provider of maintenance, servicing and installation of both automatic and manual door entry systems, with offices in Hertfordshire and Kent.

Dorma UK is a provider of innovative and reliable access and security solutions for hotels, shops, sporting venues, airports, hospitals, homes and offices. It was established in 1978 and has central offices located in Tiverton, Devon, where the company assembles its mechanical cylinder ranges, and Hitchin, Hertfordshire. The company is a subsidiary of the Dormakaba Group, who, since the merger of Dorma and Kaba in 2016, is one of the top three companies engaged in access control and security solutions on the global market.

The transaction represents a strategic acquisition for the companies, allowing Dorma UK to expand its current service offering.

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Congratulations to Kendall Stafford for Being Awarded as One of the Top 10 Most Successful Businesswomen to Watch

A special congratulations to Managing Partner, Kendall Stafford at Benchmark International who was recognized and awarded by Insights Success Magazine as one of the top 10 most successful businesswomen to watch in 2019.

Insights Success Magazine focuses on leading companies, their style of conducting business and ways of delivering effective solutions to strengthen market share.  

Kendall was recognized for her compassionate leadership skills and M&A knowledge that continue to shine throughout her career and success with Benchmark International.  

Kendall began as a Director at Benchmark International’s US headquarters in Tampa, Florida. She now resides as the Managing Partner at Benchmark International’s Austin office, where she continues to lead with compassion, empathy, and transparency not only for her clients but for her team.  

She is responsible for motivating and mentoring the team in Austin, ensuring customer service standards are consistently met, and effectively transacting duties the team was hired to perform.  She says, If I do these three things successfully, everything else falls in line. My effective communication, organization, and negotiation skills serve me well in this role.” 

Kendall's reaction to receiving this recognition and award demonstrates her determination to continue to be a leader in this space and an inspiration for other women. “I’m honored to have been recognized for this award. I think it is a testament to the values I hold for myself but also for the values I continue to evoke as my role as Managing Partner at Benchmark International.”  

Kendall added in the article that for budding women leaders, she advised, “Young women who would like to start their own business should just go for it. There’s no time like the present and you must believe in yourself. Don’t listen to anyone that says you can’t do something and never let fear stop you from trying. You will learn a lot about yourself and your business during the journey and, ultimately, you will be surprised at what you accomplished along the way.” 

Check out the complete article here, and again a special congratulations to Kendall Stafford for being acknowledged and receiving this prestigious honor.  

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Do You Want To Be Featured At The Savca 2020 Southern Africa Industry Conference?

Get Your Business Showcased At The Local Industry's 'Must Attend' Event

Benchmark International is pleased to announce that we will be contributing material to the attendees’ welcome pack at the SAVCA Southern Africa Industry Conference from February 25th-27th at the Spier Wine Farm.

In 2019, the SAVCA Conference attracted 437 Private Equity delegates and 195 Venture Capital delegates who represented local and international institutional investors, fund managers, advisors policy makers and entrepreneurs.

 

Learn More About the SAVCA Southern Africa Industry Conference Here

Would you like to be showcased to these industry leaders with strong, acquisitive appetites? We will be including a limited number of client investment profiles in the flyers which will form part of the delegate bags. Contact us now to ensure your business is included.

Schedule A Call

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Benchmark International has Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between Easytesters Limited and Biopharma Process Systems Limited

Benchmark International is pleased to announce the transaction between Devon-based developer of testing equipment, Easytesters, and Winchester-based pharmaceuticals and manufacturing company, Biopharma Process Systems (BPS).

Do you have an exit or growth strategy in place?

Easytesters is an inventor and developer of unique HACCP testing equipment specifically designed to prevent hazards and contamination in liquid food processing. Its solutions are environmentally friendly and are renowned for reducing or eliminating downtime for food processors and manufacturers.

BPS is a leading supplier of equipment to the pharmaceutical, biotech and process industries in the UK, Ireland and France, with a specialisation in freeze drying, solvent removal/evaporation and high-pressure homogenisation technologies.

It is part of the Biopharma Group which is made up of Biopharma Technologies and Biopharma Technologies France. It also has a division in the USA (BTLLC) that works in close association with its product partners, SP Scientific.

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between Technology Navigators LP and Re-Sourcing Holdings

Benchmark International has successfully facilitated the transaction of Technology Navigators LP and Re-Sourcing Holdings. Technology Navigators LP, is a technical staffing firm that concentrates on recruiting individuals for contract, project, and permanent placement. 

Re-Sourcing Holdings (Re-Sourcing) is a leading provider of strategic staffing, consulting, and direct hire solutions, focusing on Compliance, Legal, Information Technology, Finance & Accounting, and HR positions. The company serves clients through five premium brands: JW Michaels & Co., Compliance Risk Concepts, ExecuSource, Perennial Resources International, and Partnership Employment with Technology Navigators now becoming the sixth brand. Founded in 2003, the company is headquartered in New York City with 15 offices in nine markets. Re-Sourcing’s differentiated operating partner model has enabled a strong focus on building direct relationships with clients to bolster retention and deepen understanding of client needs.

In reference to the transaction, Robert Taylor, Partner of Technology Navigators LP, explained his experience with Benchmark International, “We could not have completed the deal without Benchmark International.  Their team was attentive from day one and made sure that all our questions were answered throughout the entire process. The process of finding the right partner and making a deal is like a rollercoaster moving at 100 mph but Benchmark International knew how to navigate the obstacles we encountered and helped us get the deal across the line.”

Ready to explore your exit and growth options?

Allen Goldsmith, a Partner of Technology Navigators LP, mentioned that “Benchmark’s knowledge of the domestic and international markets was key to finding the right buyer that understood our unique business culture.  Benchmark International was there every step of the way and truly got to know how our business operated.  In short, they truly partnered with us to ensure we received the best deal the market could offer.”

Luis Vinals, Transaction Director at Benchmark International added, “Technology Navigators is a great example of how attractive the market has become for B2B services.  Our clients, Robert and Allen were engaged throughout the entire process and fully understood our suggestions.  They were receptive and willing to go the extra mile alongside us to ensure that their deal got done.  All in all, Robert and Allen’s collaboration enabled our team to find the right partner for the future of Technology Navigators.”

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Benchmark International has Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between Dunlop Heywood and The Leaders Romans Group

Benchmark International has advised on the transaction between chartered surveyors, Dunlop Heywood, and estate agents, The Leaders Romans Group.

Dunlop Heywood is a chartered surveying practice specialising in rating consultancy and property management with offices in London, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle and Belfast. Clients include Asda, Doncaster Rovers, Bradford City, Travis Perkins, Leeds Bradford and Dublin airports, and charities.

It is a renowned property consultancy that was established by founding partner Stuart Hicks in 2008, but the origins of the business can be traced back to 1832.

Leaders Romans Group is one of the UK’s largest property services groups following the merger of Leaders, Romans and Boyer in 2016 and is backed by leading private equity firm, Bowmark Capital. Starting in residential sales and lettings, the company has since expanded to offer a whole host of property services from planning to financial services and corporate property management. The company has 160 branches across the country and employs over 2,100 people.

Post-sale, Stuart and the senior team will remain with the business, which will continue to trade as Dunlop Heywood.

Do you have an exit or growth strategy in place?

The senior teams at Leaders Romans Group and Dunlop Heywood are now working on an investment and development plan, which will ensure that Dunlop Heywood maintains its position as the leading business rates consultancy in the UK.

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2020 Global Outlook For The Media Industry

The New Media World

The media industry has undergone several major transformations in the Internet age. Magazines and newspapers have been disrupted by digital publications. News consumption has been significantly altered by the existence of social media. Broadcast radio is now challenged by satellite radio, podcasting, and both free and fee-based music-streaming services. Television continues to undergo sweeping changes that come with more and more people cutting the cord, smart TVs, and the inundation of subscription streaming platforms on a variety of scales. And all of these sector trends affect how advertising dollars are being spent and how audiences are being targeted. 2020 proves to be no different, as these trends will continue to reshape the industry.

Streaming Wars

Companies and TV networks are faced with the task of inventing new offerings for delivering content in ways that facilitate direct relationships with consumers. New bundling and tiered options will be more in demand as viewers grow frustrated with having to manage various streaming options amid a crowded sea of subscription services that go beyond Netflix and Amazon Prime. Individual TV networks are offering their own on-demand services (such as HBO Now), and big industry players are getting in the game with their own digital networks such as Disney+. And the availability of tiered streaming platforms such as BritBox and Sling TV continues to grow. The major streaming networks will be faced with how to leverage an influx of competition. These options will also need to address how advertising is delivered regarding ad-free options and ad-supported video.

Podcast Popularity

There are currently more than 700,000 active podcasts, and research shows that the consumer appetite for podcasts continues to thrive. Podcasts are going to be seen as a new vehicle for content and will garner more advertising money, with predictions that the spending amount will surpass $1 billion by the end of 2020.

 

Ready to explore your exit and growth options?

 

For the Love of Data

As media companies compete for more audiences, data will become more imperative to achieving the goals of these companies. This means that the data platforms used by media companies and advertising agencies are going to become paramount. The gathering and processing of the third-party data needed to create more meaningful and personalized experiences and services for consumers will be essential to the ability to remain competitive.

User-Generated Content

In today’s social-media-driven world, users are able to generate their own content through various mobile applications such as SnapChat and TikTok. As more of these types of platforms emerge, larger parent companies (such as the Facebooks and Googles of the world) may be inclined to acquire them to diversify their offerings and expand their user bases.

M&A Opportunity

As media companies continue to need more diverse content and content delivery options, it creates significant opportunities for mergers and acquisitions. This M&A activity is expected to be on smaller scales than the megadeals that occurred in the last couple of years. This is because there are fewer opportunities for the major networks to consolidate, especially as there is a growing over-supply of third-party streaming applications and the content rights are being withdrawn. 

Contact Us

If you think that it is time to sell or grow your company, or even start your exit planning strategy, please reach out to our experts at Benchmark International. We look forward to taking your future to the next level.

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Why 2020 Is The Right Time To Transition A Business

When determining the best time to sell or exit a company, unfortunately nobody has a crystal ball. However, there are several circumstances that should be considered, from fundamental business positions to external influential factors.

The state of the M&A market is among the most significant factors in a decision to sell a business. The market held steady from 2015 to 2017, and optimism skyrocketed in 2018. In 2019, the market dipped slightly but remained strong in deal volume and value, with a wave of multi-billion-dollar megadeals being completed.

While some expect a modest drop in global M&A value in 2020 due to what is perceived as inevitable economic correction after a lengthy, seemingly unstoppable up-cycle, many experts predict that little change is expected due to sustained economic growth, low unemployment, low inflation, high consumer confidence, and strong corporate earnings. Companies still have a need to diversify their portfolios, acquire talent, and innovate technologies in order to stay competitive—all needs that are best addressed through M&A. Also, plenty of capital is available and private equity has amassed the dry powder that can drive larger deals, even in the event of an economic downturn.

Additionally, there is potential for more aggressive M&A strategies earlier in the year to get ahead of a potential downturn and downgrade in valuations. Companies that have proven to perform well during times of recession may be especially appealing targets.

The 2020 U.S. Election

Regarding a potential downturn, one of the major factors that play into the state of this year’s M&A market is the upcoming November 2020 presidential election in the United States and the issue of impeachment of the current president. History indicates that economies typically perform well in election years. However, as uncertainty looms contingent upon the results of the election when it comes to topics such as trade and regulation, acquirers may become hesitant and the M&A market could lose momentum leading up to November, with the market remaining slow in the months following, depending on the election results.

Another matter affected by the election results is capital gains taxes, which is a matter of concern if you are selling a company because how much profit you yield from the sale will be taxable. Some presidential candidates are proposing higher taxation of the highest-income taxpayers’ accrued wealth and income, and this includes capital gains. Most candidates’ plans would tax capital gains at ordinary income rates, with just the very top marginal tax rates varying at incomes of more than $488,850.

The closer the election nears, the more every single day counts. If you hope to sell, the sooner you initiate the process, the better, as most M&A deals take several months.

Ready to explore your exit and growth options?

Brexit

As of January 31, 2020, the United Kingdom is officially no longer part of the European Union, but a second round of negotiations will continue with the goal of reaching a deal by the end of 2020. With lessened political uncertainty now that an initial Brexit deal has been made, there is heightened confidence in deal-making activity. The inability to make a second deal by the end of the year will mean higher costs and barriers to trade.

The Brexit situation is affecting changes to M&A strategies. M&A could be used to secure an operational presence in the EU to maintain access to European markets. M&A could also facilitate access to markets outside the EU. Additionally, some companies could be facing new pressures that can directly impact share prices.  

The Boomer Retirement Wave

While it seems as though we have been talking about it for years, the Baby Boomer generation remains a factor in 2020.

According To Pew Research Center population data, 10,000 Baby Boomers will turn 65 on each day of this year.

In the U.S. alone, Baby Boomers own 2.34 million small businesses, and employ more than 25 million people. This aging ownership pool points to a flood of M&A activity in the lower and middle markets this year, especially in certain sectors such as those that offer professional services.

As this population retires, there will be an increased need for consolidation, succession planning, and exit planning. If Boomers do not properly plan for these scenarios, it could result in an economic crisis that in turn affects millions of jobs. Also, most of these business owners have the majority of their net worth tied up in their company. This means that if the company should lose value, so does the owner’s ability to retire.

The unfortunate reality is that the majority (75%) of owners of small to mid-sized businesses choose to procrastinate and do not have a plan in place. If you are a part of this generation, you should most certainly already have your plans for the future underway. Even if you are not a Boomer and are considering selling, this is the time to get ahead of the massive wave of businesses that are expected to hit the market this year.    

Are You Ready to Sell?

If you are considering selling your business, we encourage you to enlist the expert M&A guidance of Benchmark International’s team to create your growth strategy, exit strategy, or company sale for maximum value. The time to start planning is now.

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Benchmark International Facilitated the Transaction Between Catastrophe Cleaning & Restoration Co, Inc. and Interstate Restoration

Catastrophe Cleaning & Restoration Co, Inc. (“CATCO”) has been acquired by Interstate Restoration. CATCO is a 50-person company that has operated for over 35 years providing highly-skilled restoration and remediation expertise to residential, commercial, public, and industrial customers.

Former owner Michael Hammack will continue as President as he helps transition the firm.

Michael Hammack, President of CATCO commented, “Benchmark International and Robert West were very professional, knowledgeable, extraordinarily helpful, and extremely encouraging during the sales process.  Robert and his team ran a focused and competitive process resulting in a great cultural fit and financial outcome.  CATCO looks forward to many years of success under the ownership of FirstService | Interstate Restoration.”

Ready to explore your exit and growth options?

Interstate Restoration is an emergency response and general restoration contractor founded in 1998.  With more than 50 locations spread across the US and Canada, they have a proven record of providing rapid disaster response in every corner of North America. Interstate is a subsidiary of FirstService Corporation (NASDAQ: FSV), a Canadian public property services company generating over $2B in annual revenue.

Tyrus O'Neill, Managing Partner at Benchmark International stated, “This was one of the more rewarding client relationships I have had the opportunity to build over my time with Benchmark International.  Our team being intimately involved with Michael and his company through marketing, deal negotiation, and financial due diligence afforded us the opportunity to stitch together a deal that made tremendous sense for the client in both a cultural and financial context.  He was able to monetize the great business he has built while also handing the keys over to an organization in Interstate that will genuinely carry on the legacy of CATCO as it continues to grow its presence.” 

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2020 Global IT Industry Outlook

The global Information Technology industry encompasses the sectors of hardware, software and services, telecom, and emerging tech including ‘as-a-service’ solutions under the umbrella of the Internet of Things (IoT) and automating technologies.

 The global IT industry is projected to reach $5.2 trillion in 2020, with global spending growing 3.7%

As the world continues to be more digitally connected and industries become more automated, technology will remain a massively growing market in the beginning of the new decade, especially as companies focus less on cost reduction and more on innovation.

The United States is the world’s largest tech market, accounting for one-third of the total market, and exceeding the gross domestic product of most other industries. Although the US market is so large, the lion’s share of tech spending actually happens outside of the US (68%) and is made by enterprise or government entities. Western Europe is a major contributor in the global tech market, and China is also a significant player with focuses in robotics, infrastructure, software, and services.

 

Ready to explore your exit and growth options?

 

Forecasted IT Spending

In 2020, IT spending budgets will be largely driven by the needs to upgrade outdated infrastructure, address security issues, and accommodate growth. The amount of spending and the mix of services will vary by company size.

  • Smaller businesses are expected to spend more on hardware such as servers and laptops.
  • Mid-size companies will be spending more on mobile devices.
  • Larger corporations will spend more on managed infrastructure IT services such as power and climate solutions.

For software spending specifically, small businesses will focus their spending on operating systems. Mid-size companies will have a larger budget for productivity software and business support applications. Large enterprises will be spending more of their money on virtualization, database management, and communications software. Cloud services and recovery software will represent major budget allocations in the coming year and cloud spend will vary by company size.

Cloud Security

With the increasing popularity of cloud-based software and services and hybrid cloud solutions comes the increasing concern regarding cloud security. This is further reinforced by an ongoing rise in cyber attacks and data breaches. Cloud-based security solutions will remain a growing need across several sectors, especially in highly regulated ones such as finance and government. The global cloud security market was anticipated to garner $8.9 billion by the start of 2020. This need will create more opportunities for companies, entrepreneurs and investors.

 

Feel like it's a good time to sell?

 

The Year of 5G

The highly anticipated 5G technology will see a much more momentous rollout in 2020, in contrast to the lackluster emergence in 2019. Hundreds of millions of 5G-enabled smartphones are expected to ship in 2020. 5G will deliver significantly high speeds and remarkable data capacity to expand the financial possibilities for businesses. It is able to support billions of connected devices across sectors, allow new innovation for the IoT, Artificial Intelligence, and Virtual Reality. It will also enable a new world of autonomous vehicles and smart cities through a fully connected society, shattering boundaries to create a scalable global marketplace through unified technologies. Businesses will need to be prepared with how this new technology is going to dramatically alter the possibilities of the cloud and the need for virtualization-based networks as opposed to fixed-function equipment. While it is not going to happen overnight, 5G technology will grow increasingly more available throughout 2020, changing the availability of certain devices and transforming industrial possibilities.

Edge Computing

Edge computing is not a new concept, as it has existed for years. However, the value opportunity that it represents across industries is enormous. 2020 is anticipated to be a highly emergent year for edge computing due to the availability of faster networking technologies such as 5G and analytic capabilities in smaller devices.

Edge computing allows data processing to be done physically closer to where the data is generated (the edge of the network) rather than at a massive data processing center, which in turn reduces latency and processes the data much faster. This opens up countless new opportunities. Additionally, this technology offers several benefits for businesses, such as reduced costs, improved energy efficiencies, predictive maintenance, increased reliability, smart manufacturing, and security enhancements.

Let’s Talk Soon

At Benchmark International, our team of M&A advisors is ready to help you plan the next steps for you and your company. Whether it is selling your business, creating an exit strategy, seeking investor assistance, or finding ways to create growth, we are here to work on your terms to help you make your future as bright as possible.

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