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Financial Services Industry Report

Financial Planning & Advisory Sector

In 2022, the market size of the financial planning & advisory industry is $59.2 billion. It is expected to increase 4% this year. Between 2017 and 2022, the market has grown 4.5% per year on average. The size of the market has increased faster in the U.S. than the overall economy. 

Industry profit declined in 2020 due to declining assets under management and lower return on assets but increased in 2021 as the economy began to recover. As macroeconomic conditions continue to improve through 2026 gradually, industry operators are expected to benefit from rising equity values and rising interest rates. 

High competition is a challenge in the industry, while the population's median age represents an opportunity. This is because the rising median age of the U.S. population is approaching retirement age, which increases the demand for retirement planning, capital preservation, and estate planning.

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The Increasing Adoption Of Enterprise Resource Planning And Customer Relationship Management Software

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been increased adoption of enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), and other entrepreneurial software. In 2020, many companies accelerated their plans to begin using these systems, and the market for them remains hot, particularly for Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) models. COVID forced most businesses to digitize their offerings in real-time as consumers began turning to online shopping and employees started working remotely—both trends that are expected to continue into the future.

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The Shift From a Seller's Market To a Buyer's Market When Interest Rates Rise

So if you are a business owner considering selling your company, the good news is that right now, it's a seller's M&A market. By October of 2021, total M&A deal activity reached $4.4 trillion, which is an increase of 92% compared to a year ago and is the strongest opening period for M&A since 1980. In addition, merger activity resulted in deals totaling $1.52 trillion in the three months prior to September 27, 2021. That's up 38% from the same quarter in 2020—and more than any other quarter on record.

In a seller's market, demand is high for assets that are in limited supply, giving sellers more pricing and negotiating power. This demand can be attributed to a recovering economy, high cash balances, big government spending, new SPAC buyers, and low-interest rates. Plus, investors are flush with cash and ready to spend it on acquisitions that can help create growth or add capabilities. When market conditions shift, buyers have the upper hand in deal negotiations. And this could happen when the U.S. Federal Reserve increases interest rates in the next year or so.

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What Does Inflation Mean For Your Ability to Sell Your Business?

Short answer – We don’t know. The M&A market has never interacted with this much inflation before. Inflation is now at a 40-year high. In 1982, there was no M&A market. The birth of the market is most often traced to KKR’s 1988 takeover of RJR Nabisco, as made famous in the 1989 book “Barbarians at the Gate” and the 1993 movie of the same name. Whether that is the actual date of birth or not can be argued. Still, at the time it was commonly thought that the cash for the $25 billion price tag was unattainable because, as the book says, there was a belief that there was not anywhere near that much excess cash floating around for doing deals in the entire world.

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The Impact of Labor Shortages on M&A

The Labor Shortage Persists

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted companies of all sizes, but small businesses have certainly been hit the hardest. First, there were total shutdowns, followed by financing problems due to slowed business, and now it is labor shortages that are the latest issue as the world works towards recovery. 

The slew of workers leaving the workforce altogether is fueling a growing labor shortage in what seems to be every industry. Demand is up, and supply is down. Businesses are facing concerns with not having enough people to get the job done—especially in sectors such as healthcare and technology. These spaces are seeing attrition rates of 3.6% and 4.5% higher, respectively, than last year. Research even shows that 36% of workers who quit their jobs did so without another job lined up.

And the labor shortage is an issue that is happening on a global scale, from the US to Canada to Europe. According to the US Census Bureau, many businesses struggle to retain and attract employees, and 49% of business owners say the labor shortage is affecting their business. And a Canadian study reported that 30% of Canadian business owners say the top motivating factor for pursuing an acquisition is gaining access to new talent. That number is up from 20% before the pandemic. Additionally, a recent Eurostat survey found that, in the third quarter of 2021, a worker shortage was hampering production at 83% of industrial companies in Hungary, 50% in Poland, and 44% in the Czech Republic.

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Benchmark International Named Best Middle Market M&A Specialists

Benchmark International has been named the Best Middle Market M&A Specialists by Corporate Vision’s Corporate Excellence Awards.
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No Recession in 2022, But 2023 May Be a Different Story

The good news is that experts agree that 2022 will be in the clear from a recession for the US economy. But the next few years may tell a different story. 

An economic downturn could arrive as early as 2023. Federal Reserve policy is expected to change, which will result in more business cycles that many companies will not be ready to face. Even if the country is lucky enough to dodge a recession in 2023, we can expect the economic decline to be more detrimental in 2024 or 2025. The Fed will eventually start easing up on stimulus initiatives and raising interest rates at the same time that inflation is on the rise. It usually takes the economy about a year to react to the Fed’s actions, putting us on track for a safe 2022, but with the following years feeling the impacts.

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Deal Structures in a Post Covid World

First off, I’m using the term “post-covid” gingerly, since, as I am writing this article, we are going through a surge of the Omicron variant. This article is intended to shed light on deal structures that we saw in 2021 and compare them to pre-covid years, as well as surmise future structures.

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2022 Is a Seller's Year for M&A

2021 Was a Record Year

In 2021, dealmakers worldwide announced $5.6 trillion in M&A transactions (that’s 30% higher than the previous record), and the U.S. reported $2.9 trillion in transactions (that’s 40% higher than the previous record). While 2021 may have been a record-breaking year for middle-market M&A activity, 2022 should be an excellent year for sellers. 

Last year several factors drove deal activity to new heights:

  • Pent-up activity from the previous slow year because of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • A wealth of capital seeking investment opportunities
  • Potential tax changes this year
  • Strong economic growth
  • Continued low-interest rates
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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between The Leadership Factory Ltd and Tack TMI UK Limited

Benchmark International is pleased to announce the acquisition of Stirling-based The Leadership Factory by London-based Tack TMI.

The Leadership Factory conducts leadership, management, and organisational development programmes with services aimed at increasing clients’ existing management capacity, enhancing leadership, developing structural efficiency, and engaging employees.

Tack TMI is a training provider that focuses on learning in sales excellence, customer experience, leadership and management development, personal development, change and innovation, and safety culture. The company was acquired in 2016 by GI Group, Italy’s largest multinational staffing company. As part of GI Group, TMI Tack operates across over 55 countries and in 37 separate languages.

The acquisition further enhances Tack TMI’s UK coverage and strengthens the leadership development and executive coaching capability within its global learning offering.

Ready to explore your exit and growth options?

Dr Andy Kelly, managing director at The Leadership Factory, said this about working with Benchmark International: “Worked with Andrew Roberts to sell our consulting business. Great service, great communications, great result! Andrew is a pleasure to work with and takes the emotions out of the process.”

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2022 Oil & Gas Report

In dollar value alone, the oil & gas sector is the world’s largest industry, employing a massive workforce of around 4 million people globally. The major oil companies account for a significant percentage of a country’s national GDP. The world’s largest producers of oil are the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and Russia.

In 2021, the oil & gas sector recovered well, with oil prices climbing to their highest levels in six years. Total revenues for the oil & gas drilling sector in 2021 came to approximately $2.1 trillion. The global oil & gas market is forecast to reach $7425.02 billion in 2025. That’s a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6%. This growth is primarily due to companies shifting their operations during recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Low-interest rates positively impacted the oil & gas industry in most developed countries. 

The global oil & gas exploration and production sector account for a large chunk of the global economy. The growth of this sector is expected to increase in the future, with OPEC crude oil production averaging 34.15 million b/d in 2022.

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between Wilnat, Inc. (doing business as KGM) and St. Louis-based private equity firm Compass Group Equity Partners

Posted on February 1, 2022 By in Deal completions + successful + MandA + KGM

Benchmark International has successfully brokered the sale of Wilnat, Inc. (doing business as KGM) to St. Louis-based private equity firm Compass Group Equity Partners. Tim and Nancy Wood, the sellers of KGM, engaged Benchmark International in June with a mandate to close by year-end with a buyer that would be precisely the right fit for their plans going forward. “Benchmark International put us in the position by mid-October of having met with four potential partners over the course of a week, each offering essentially the same deal value and structure. We had the luxury of picking the group we thought would be the best partner going forward for our family, our employees, and our business partners,” stated KGM CEO Tim Wood.

Ready to explore your exit and growth options?

These meetings followed a uniquely short 15-day marketing campaign in which over 400 potential acquirers were approached. “In today’s market, with some good preparation and an amazing one-of-a-kind opportunity like KGM, we can really make things happen quickly,” stated Benchmark International Managing Director Clinton Johnston.

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2021 Was a Record Year For M&A - And 2022 Could be, Too

After the trials and tribulations of 2020, no one really knew what to expect going into 2021. Yet, for the world of M&A, it couldn’t have been a more pleasant surprise.

Last year has most certainly been a record year for M&A deals, making a huge comeback from 2020. In 2021, the number of announced deals exceeded 62,000 globally. That’s up an unprecedented 24% from 2020. Deal values reached an all-time high of $5.1 trillion.

Almost all sectors are showing signs of recovery from 2020. Values are up and multiples are rising, with strategic M&A multiples at an all-time high (a median multiple of 16x EV/EBITDA).

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction of a Collection of Companies that Cater to the Automotive Space

Benchmark International successfully facilitated the transaction of a collection of companies, each offering products or services that cater to the automotive space. The group of companies provides auto collision repair, scrap metal recycling and shredding, auto impound, auto sales and rental, and towing services to the Houston market.

Ready to explore your exit and growth options?

The companies include Sterling Interest Investment DBA Elite Collision Center, McKaskle Industrial Complex DBA Fort Bend Recycling, Stor’N Texas DBA H-Town Scrap Metal Recycling Metro, Area 5 Vehicle Storage, Athena Investments DBA Area 5 Auto Sales, Athena Auto Leasing, Lockwood Vehicle Storage, and related entities.

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Key Insights in Selling an Architecture Business

Mergers and acquisitions in each industry have their own oddities, and architecture is no different from any other in that regard. However, the following similarities always seem to rise to the top when selling a firm.

Lead Architects are the Key to the Business’ Value.

At the end of the day, like all professional services businesses, the most valuable asset walks out the door every day – and – there is nothing you can do to force them to come back the next day. Acquirers are very aware of this, and when buying architecture firms, they will take extreme measures to ensure that they will return not only the day after the deal closes but for years to come. As a result, almost every deal in this space involves broadening corporate ownership to include, typically, the most senior/valuable 10% of the firm, covering the rainmakers, the client managers, the project managers, and the most brilliant experienced architects. If the owner falls into one or more of these categories, they should expect to retain some equity and sign a multi-year employment agreement.

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Surge in Private Equity Deal Activity 2021

Private equity transactions on a global scale returned to form in 2021 following the challenges posed by the pandemic, with private equity firms deploying record amounts of dry powder held as they looked to invest cash accumulated during the pandemic.

According to Mergermarket, a record was set for the percentage of M&A deals that involved private equity, with buyouts comprising 27% of global activity in 2021. This totalled 8,548 deals worth $2.1tn, nearly doubling the previous record set in 2007. Deal volume was also staggering, showing a 60% increase year-on-year.

Looking to 2022, it appears that global private equity deals might continue in the same vein, as private equity houses still have approximately $2.3tn of cash reserves. This, coupled with increasingly positive economic conditions such as a brightening global economic outlook, seller-favourable valuations, and low interest rates, are instilling confidence in the market.

Feel like it's a good time to sell?

At Benchmark International, the Transactions Teams stay abreast of industry trends to ensure the best and most suitable deals are completed for clients. As a result, throughout 2021, Benchmark International in the UK and Ireland has completed 18 transactions involving a private equity buyer. These include:

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How Potential Tax Changes Could Impact M&A

There are several changes to tax policy on the table in the United States under the Biden administration. The administration has discussed tax increases on high-income earners at some point in the future, while the timing is yet to be determined. If you are a business owner considering the sale of your company in the next few years, you may want to speed up your timeline because waiting could mean you have to pay higher taxes if laws do change.

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Supply Chain Issues Are Fueling M&A Transactions

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted normalcy in several aspects of the world as we knew it, and one of the things hit especially hard has been the global supply chain. These supply chain problems have impacted nearly every industry and business, both large and small. Because of so much continued uncertainty in supply chains—uncertainty that is expected to last for years—business owners and executive leaders are reassessing operations and seeking paths to gain more control.

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Benchmark International’s Gregory Jackson Named International CEO Of The Year (Corporate Finance)

Gregory Jackson, Benchmark International’s CEO, was named International CEO of the Year (Corporate Finance) by the Gamechangers™ 2022 Global Awards, adding to his growing and impressive list of accolades.

Gamechangers™ is a leading corporate news publication, serving the finance sector since 2003. They provide a global audience of more than 245,000 senior executive-level subscribers with valuable information.

The Gamechangers™ Global Awards are the largest program of their kind in the market, celebrating achievement, innovation, and brilliance in the industry. They have a legitimately independent nomination process, and the industry itself chooses the winners. They rely on reader insight and experience for the nominations and look for exemplary businesses that are the benchmark of achievement in their field on a global level. Firms of all sizes are recognized, and the awards represent an endorsement of outstanding work. In addition, the awards are the only industry honors awarded purely on the basis of voter participation.

Steven Keane, Executive Chairman of Benchmark International, said, “I can’t think of a more deserving recipient of this award. Greg inspires our team to raise their game every single day, and his dedication combined with their talent is why we earn such high esteem and respect from our industry peers.”

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Acquiring A New 401(k) Plan In An M&A Transaction

There are basically four possible outcomes for retirement plans in an M&A deal: 

  • The plans of both companies are merged.
  • The plan at the acquired company is terminated.
  • Both plans from both companies are maintained.
  • The plan from the acquired company is frozen.

So, what do you need to know if these circumstances apply to a deal that you are involved in?

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Why Home Healthcare and Hospice is Getting Investor Attention

Investors are currently seeking opportunities that will allow them to invest their funds in safe-havens.

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Building a Management Team

To have a successful business, you need to create a winning management team. There are several things to keep in mind when you are building that management team. It’s important to recognize the different backgrounds, personalities, and experiences of your employees in order to best direct their strengths in a way that will benefit your business.

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between Shift Traffic Events Limited and Chevron Traffic Management Limited

Benchmark International is pleased to announce the acquisition of Scunthorpe-headquartered Shift Traffic Events to Oxfordshire-based Chevron Traffic Management.

Shift Traffic Events specialises in traffic management within the events and utilities sectors, including high profile events such as the London Marathon. The company employs over 150 people and has depots in Scunthorpe and Essex.

Chevron Traffic Management provides physical and digital traffic controls for organisations working within utilities, rail, high-speed network, local authorities and events which need to disrupt normal traffic flow. It has 30 depots across the UK, including one in Scotland which operates as Class One Traffic Management. The company has been owned by Triton, an international investment firm, since 2018.

Chevron Traffic Management is part of the Chevron Group of companies, which includes Chevron Green Services, Chevron Green Consultancy, Class One Traffic Management and Highway Resource Solutions (HRS).

Ready to explore your exit and growth options?

The acquisition is part of the company’s buy and build strategy and will help Chevron Traffic Management to expand their existing capabilities in traffic management within the events and utilities sectors, alongside other specialisms like digital services and arboriculture.

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between Healing Educational Alternatives for Deserving Students, LLC and Health Connect America, Inc.

Posted on January 11, 2022 By in Deal completions

Benchmark International is pleased to announce the transaction between Healing Educational Alternatives for Deserving Students, LLC (“HEADS”) and Health Connect America, Inc. (“Health Connect America”).

Ready to explore your exit and growth options?

HEADS, founded in February 2012, is a trauma-focused Medicaid therapeutic services provider to at-risk children and families. HEADS provides cognitive behavioral therapy to individuals and families, specialized therapeutic foster care, 24/7 crisis support, and congregate care.

Health Connect America is a multi-state behavioral health platform that treats a comprehensive mix of issues, including conduct disorder, substance abuse, autism disorders, and emotional disturbance. Health Connect America provides mental and behavioral health services to children, families, and adults across multiple states.

Palladium Equity Partners, LLC (“Palladium”) acquired Health Connect America in August 2021, which is Palladium’s seventh platform investment in the broader healthcare industry and the recent acquisitions bring the firm’s total investments in healthcare, including follow-on acquisitions, to 46 across its last four funds.

Senior Transaction Associate Sunny Yang Garten at Benchmark International added, “We are very excited about this transaction. We understood the client’s goal and presented multiple options for the client to consider. Health Connect America provides a large platform. This acquisition further extends its footprint into Florida. There is a great strategic fit between HEADS and Health Connect America. On behalf of Benchmark International, we wish both companies continued success.”

 

Schedule A Call

 

Americas: Sam Smoot at +1 (813) 898 2350 / Smoot@BenchmarkIntl.com

Europe: Michael Lawrie at +44 (0) 161 359 4400 / Enquiries@BenchmarkIntl.com

Africa: Anthony McCardle at +27 21 300 2055 / McCardle@BenchmarkIntl.com 

 

ABOUT BENCHMARK INTERNATIONAL

Benchmark International’s global offices provide business owners in the middle market and lower middle market with creative, value-maximizing solutions for growing and exiting their businesses. To date, Benchmark International has handled engagements in excess of $7B across various industries worldwide. With decades of global M&A experience, Benchmark International’s deal teams, working from 14 offices across the world, have assisted hundreds of owners with achieving their personal objectives and ensuring the continued growth of their businesses.

 

Website: http://www.benchmarkintl.com
Blog: http://blog.benchmarkcorporate.com

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between Classic Emporium, LLC And Champion Xpress Car Wash

Benchmark International’s client Classic Emporium, DBA Rain Tunnel Car Spa, a New Mexico-based company providing vehicle wash, detailing and quick lube services, has sold to Champion Xpress Car Wash, a family-owned and operated business with multiple locations across New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Iowa.

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between Perfusion.com, Inc. and Epic Healthcare Travel Staffing, Inc.

Perfusion.com (PDC) is the leading provider of staffing services to the U.S. perfusion industry. The company’s core perfusion staffing services include autotransfusion, blood management and biologics services, the sale of disposables, capital equipment leasing, training and education services and patient transportation. The company is headquartered in Fort Myers, Florida.

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between Englander Enterprises Inc. And ESAM, Inc.

Englander Enterprises, Inc. (EEI), of Clearwater, Florida, provides mission-critical electronic and electromechanical solutions for aerospace, defense, and homeland security applications. Founded in 1993, EEI’s clients include an elite list of Tier-1 defense prime contractors and government customers, with solutions integrated into a broad array of the country’s highest-priority defense platforms and programs.

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Proposed Changes to U.S. Section 1202 Tax Reform: What You Need to Know

WHAT IS SECTION 1202?
In the United States, Section 1202 is known as the Small Business Stock Gains Exclusion. It is a section of the IRS code that allows capital gains from Qualified Small Business (QSB) stock to be exempt from federal taxes when selling. But not all small business stocks qualify:

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between Summus Group and SIA Partners

Posted on December 17, 2021 By in Deal completions

Benchmark International is pleased to announce the transaction between Summus Group and Sia Partners.

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between National Capital Flag Company, Inc. and The Henotic Group, LLC

Posted on December 16, 2021 By in Deal completions

National Capital Flag Company, Inc. (“NCF”), of Alexandria, VA, is a premier manufacturer of custom embroidered and printed flags. The company is a major provider to US Department of Defense and other Government customers, and produces flags for a range of commercial customers, on a contract basis, serving both national and international markets.

Ready to explore your exit and growth options?

With an operational history spanning more than five decades, NCF is an institution in its segment. The company’s on-premise manufacturing capabilities, dedication to quality, and firm status as a provider of USA-made products have earned NCF a bar-setting reputation for custom flag production and tradecraft.

Regarding the acquisition, NCF founder Al Ulmer stated, “It was a pleasure working with the Benchmark International team on this transaction. Benchmark was able to zero in on an array of highly qualified buyers from day-one, leading to a successful transaction with a great acquirer. I am excited for the entire NCF team and the continued bright future that lies ahead.”

Of the transaction, Benchmark Deal Analyst Lucas Marcellini commented, “Both buyer and seller showed great alignment of interests and vision throughout the transaction process. I know that Henotic is excited to take the torch that Al [Ulmer] lit. The entire Benchmark team is looking forward to watching this company’s great story continue forward.”

 

Schedule A Call

Americas: Sam Smoot at +1 (813) 898 2350 / Smoot@BenchmarkIntl.com

Europe: Michael Lawrie at +44 (0) 161 359 4400 / Enquiries@BenchmarkIntl.com

Africa: Anthony McCardle at +27 21 300 2055 / McCardle@BenchmarkIntl.com 

 

ABOUT BENCHMARK INTERNATIONAL

Benchmark International’s global offices provide business owners in the middle market and lower middle market with creative, value-maximizing solutions for growing and exiting their businesses. To date, Benchmark International has handled engagements in excess of $7B across various industries worldwide. With decades of global M&A experience, Benchmark International’s deal teams, working from 14 offices across the world, have assisted hundreds of owners with achieving their personal objectives and ensuring the continued growth of their businesses.

 

Website: http://www.benchmarkintl.com
Blog: http://blog.benchmarkcorporate.com

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between CorEnergy Limited and Sureserve Group plc

Benchmark International is pleased to announce the acquisition of Manchester-based CorEnergy by Kent-based Sureserve in a £7.5m deal.

CorEnergy was established in 2014 to capitalise on market growth in LED lighting and renewables. Focused on providing sustainable energy services for public and private sector organisations, the company provides cost analysis, design, supply, installation and commissioning of LED lighting and controls, solar photovoltaics, electrical vehicle charging, battery storage, and renewable heating solutions.

It is expected to achieve revenues in excess of £6m and EBITA of £1m for the year to 31 December 2021.

AIM-listed Sureserve, currently valued at £148m and employing over 2,100 people, is a compliance and energy services group. The bolt-on deal expands Sureserve’s range of energy services, with CorEnergy providing the firm with new expertise in solar power and electric vehicles.

Do you have an exit or growth strategy in place?

The maximum total consideration payable for CorEnergy by Sureserve is £7.5m, with an initial £5.9m payable on completion, including £2.9m in cash and the issue of 3,281,879 new ordinary shares of 10p each. Further deferred consideration of up to £1.6m may be payable, split equally between cash and shares, depending on CorEnergy's full-year results to December 2021.

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Benchmark International Awarded M&A Deal of The Year (100M - 250M)

At the 20th Annual M&A Advisor Awards, Benchmark International was awarded M&A Deal of the Year (100M-250M) for the acquisition of PBK Architects by DC Capital Partners.

As the 23rd largest US-based architecture firm, PBK, based in Houston, Texas, and its subsidiaries in California, Beijing, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong, employ more than 500 architects, engineers, and related professionals.

In addition to its Top 25 status, in 2019, PBK was ranked as the “#1 Education Design Firm” by Engineering News-Record (“ENR”), widely regarded as the engineering and design industry’s premier publication. Specializing in K-12 projects and, in particular, large public high schools, PBK has long been the go-to firm for sustainable design and next-gen integrations in particular. The company also focuses on two related building types—higher education and sports facilities.

This transaction followed closely on the heels of 11 other deals that Benchmark International closed in the architecture, engineering & construction (AEC) space in the first half of 2020.

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between Kaleidico, LLC and a Private Individual

The seller, Kaleidico, is made up of a team of experts that create and execute lead generation strategies for businesses in the mortgage lending and legal verticals. Their disciplined creative process has been generating leads since 2005.

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Benchmark International Named Investment Banking Firm of The Year

At the 20th Annual M&A Advisor Awards—known as the Oscars of the M&A world— Benchmark International was awarded Investment Banking Firm of the Year. The awards are presented by The M&A Advisor, and the winners were announced at the Gala Ceremony live event held in New York City on November 17, 2021.

Benchmark International beat out the other nominees, which included Capstone Partners, Clearsight Advisors, DC Advisory, Drake Star Partners, Generational Group, Leonis Partners, and Raymond James.

These awards serve as the industry benchmark for dealmaking excellence, recognizing the leading M&A transactions, restructurings, deal financings, products/services, firms, and professionals.

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A Full or Partial Business Transition: Which is Right For You?

Every company has its own unique circumstances and needs. As a business owner, you can choose from a number of different ways to transition out of your company in a sale or before retirement. When succession planning, you should consider your goals for both the company and your life after the transition, such as financial requirements and how much you want to remain involved in the business. Adequate succession planning ahead of time can also help to create significant value for your company.

A transition of a business can be internal or external. Under an internal transition, the company is usually passed on to the next generation of family or a management team member. In an external transition, a strategic or financial buyer purchases the company, either completely or partially. There is also the option of an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), which falls somewhere in between an internal and external transition.

Full Business Transition
A complete transition occurs when 100% of company ownership is sold to an investor, such as a strategic buyer or private equity firm. Under a full sale, there is a complete change in ownership control, either as a stock deal or asset purchase. Complete transitions are most often asset purchases because it assuages certain liabilities from the buyer. The owner could be required to stay involved with the business through a transition period that can range from months to years, especially if they are a key part of management.

Business valuations in a full transition are based on competitive negotiations. In many sectors, a multiple of the company’s EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) and factors such as size, profitability, industry, customer base, and location. In a complete sale, the seller is often given the majority of transaction proceeds upfront, with the rest paid later through an earn-out or seller note.

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U.S. Private Equity in Middle Market Continues at Record Levels

Middle-market private equity (PE) dealmaking in the United States didn’t lose its record momentum in the second quarter of 2021, some of which carried over into Q3, thanks to sustained economic recovery, ample debt, and plenty of available capital, according to data from Pitchbook. U.S. GDP grew at an annualized 6.5% in Q2 but slowed to 2% in Q3, mainly due to global supply chain issues. 

PE fundraising is also holding strong, with the 87 U.S. middle-market funds raised so far this year on course to set a new record. Additionally, the $68.4 billion in capital raised in 2021 is on track to be the second-highest annual total since 2010.

Most deal activities were put on hold for several months after March of 2020 and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, but 2021 and early 2022 may be the right time to sell. The following factors are affecting the viewpoint of sellers of privately-owned companies: 

  • Some owners are now more heedful of another crisis and how it could affect their businesses. 
  • Many owners no longer wish to sustain efforts and risks that come with their businesses. 
  • Owners who worked remotely during the pandemic got accustomed to more flexible schedules and free time. 
  • Numerous owners nearing retirement are worried about the possibility of higher corporate, personal income, capital gains, and dividend taxes. 
  • Because wealth built up in private companies is not easily converted to cash, some owners have focused on the fact that after-tax proceeds from a sale will last for a long period of time.

So far this year, the largest share of PE deals has taken place in the lower to middle markets, with deals of less than $1 billion making up nearly 70% of all deals. 2021 remains on pace to easily surpass the prior annual record from 2019. At the end of the year, numbers are expected to be even more impressive as investors may hurry to close deals before the year comes to a close. 

Ready to explore your exit and growth options?

According to the Golub Middle Market Index, U.S. middle-market companies registered 21% revenue growth in the third quarter of this year. In addition, direct lending funds account for most middle-market LBO financing and reached record fundraising levels in the second quarter. 

Add-ons increased as a share of PE deals. Middle-market firms looked to add mid-sized aggregators and sought out M&A deals to expand platforms, diversify the value chain, and embrace ESG principles. 

There was also robust exit activity in the middle market, as valuations were desirable and investor confidence was high. So far this year, the market hosted an estimated 430 exits with a combined value of $87.3 billion. Soaring valuations mean that many GPs meet their investment goals earlier than expected, driving many to cash in on investments ahead of schedule. 

Smaller, strategic exits are dwindling in the hospitality and travel sectors for expected reasons after the pandemic impacts. Middle-market sponsors are holding onto investments in these pandemic-stricken sectors. In the second quarter of 2021, there were almost zero exits of hotels, in-person dining, travel providers, or other related companies. 

Secondary buyouts are also following an upward trend. So far this year, SBOs account for nearly 62% of all middle-market exits. Buyout firms are taking advantage of limited partners’ healthy appetite for private market exposure as well as the record deal activity that enabled firms to fundraise at a very fast pace. While first-time funds and emerging managers put up positive numbers in 2021, some bigger LPs put less investment into large multi-strategy firms or shifted it to new products offered by those with whom they already had a relationship. 

Even amid all this positive activity, middle-market firms in the U.S. are still facing other challenges. While unemployment rates have improved from 2020, there is still a record number of unfilled jobs, causing major labor shortages in sectors such as manufacturing, healthcare, and hospitality. These circumstances are causing firms to focus more on deals that acquire key talent and automated technologies that help with employee management and retention. The sector of senior care has been hit particularly hard by labor shortages, which is likely to result in increased consolidation by home care platforms. Additionally, insurance brokerages, wealth management firms, and registered investment advisors (RIAs) all witnessed record M&A activity in the first half of this year. 

PE firms are also pursuing more intricate opportunities to expand lines of business, end-market exposures, and product value chains. Such game-changing add-on acquisitions can be especially effective for vertical software deals because complementary products can be woven into multi-capability platforms to create all-in-one solutions that are good for customer retention.

Deal activity is also being driven by environmental, sustainability, and governance (ESG) initiatives. ESG has moved into the forefront for businesses this year. Transactions in the renewables market represent middle-market opportunities to grow a platform into a sector leader because of the market’s highly fragmented nature. Firms in the middle market are also pursuing add-on acquisitions to better align their portfolio companies with sustainability initiatives, whether to meet changing consumer sentiment or lower capital costs by lowering carbon emissions.

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction between EFRC Holdings (Pty) Ltd and The Africa Food Security LP (AFS LP) managed by Zebu Investment Partners

Benchmark International is pleased to announce the transaction between EFRC Holdings (Pty) Ltd (including its wholly owned subsidiaries Elgin Free Range Chickens (Pty) Ltd, Elgin Poultry Abattoir (Pty) Ltd and EFRC Agri Operations (Pty) Ltd) and The Africa Food Security LP (AFS LP) managed by Zebu Investment Partners.

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between Coastal Retreats Limited & The Original Cottage Company Limited

Benchmark International is pleased to announce the acquisition of Northumberland-based Coastal Retreats to Norwich-based Original Cottages.

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between Southern Life Systems, Inc. and ADDvise

Southern Life Systems, Inc. (DBA Nurse Rosie), of Savannah, Georgia, designs and provides a wide range of medical devices and products. Nurse Rosie is a market leader in the long-term care medical device market and electronic health record (EHR) connectivity solutions.

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Benchmark International Named Among The 50 Best Workplaces Of The Year

Benchmark International has been named as one of the 50 Best Workplaces of the Year 2021 by The Silicon Review. The list is handpicked from different areas and recognizes businesses that attract both talent and clientele and stand out with regards to unique and positive company culture.  

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