Global consulting sector M&A rises 1 percent in Q3 2017, reveals new report

BY Fraser Tennant

Mergers & acquisitions (M&A) activity in the global consulting sector in Q3 2017 rose 1 percent year-on-year (YoY), with large variations across market segments, according to a new report by Equiteq.

In ‘Q3 2017 Marketing Update – The Global Consulting M&A Report’, Equiteq notes that the media & marketing and management consulting segments experienced the strongest M&A activity during the quarter.  Elsewhere, despite notable deals occurring in human resources and IT services, deal activity fell in these segments. In engineering consulting, deal activity rose strongly in comparison with the previous quarter.

Among the report’s key findings: (i) there were 609 M&A deals in total in the consulting sector in Q3 2017; (ii) North America saw strong deal flow, with 288 deals (up 7 percent (YoY) and with a median deal size of $20m); (iii) Europe saw 228 deals (flat YoY and a median deal size of $7.5m); (iv) Asia-Pacific and Australia saw 63 deals (down 21 percent YoY and a median deal size of $3.5m). Furthermore, despite continuing tensions between the US and parts of Asia, cross-border deal flow fell only slightly compared to Q2 2017.

“We are seeing strong and accelerating activity across our global platform in North America, Europe and Asia,” said David Jorgenson, chief executive of Equiteq. “Current market conditions are favorable for owners of knowledge-led businesses who are investigating their strategic and liquidity opportunities.”

In addition, the report found that private equity activity continues to remain strong despite fierce competition and strong pricing from cash rich strategic buyers. Notable financial buyer investments in Q3 2017 included Apax Partners’ acquisition of ThoughtWorks and Vista Equity Partners’ acquisition of The Advisory Board Company’s education business.

The Boston Consulting Group’s acquisition of digital design and innovation consulting lab MAYA represented another high-profile example of a move by a leading management consulting firm to capitalise on the huge opportunity for providing advisory services around digital transformation initiatives. In terms of technology M&A, global professional services company Accenture continued to be the most acquisitive buyer, acquiring seven businesses, with notable deals in spaces like communications strategy, creative media, asset management consulting, agile software-development, cloud-based mobile, and big data and analytics.

Mr Jorgenson concluded: “We are experiencing strong deal flow across our global business, which has accelerated over the last two months. The current market conditions are favourable for sellers of sale ready consulting businesses.”

Report: Q3 2017 Marketing Update – The Global Consulting M&A Report

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