Private Equity round upTuesday 11 February 2020 | News
Despite some of the macro-economic and political uncertainties, private equity activity remained strong in 2019, supported by high levels of cash and dry powder seeking good investment opportunities. Underlying this, private equity investors are becoming ever more international in their outlook and building up deep industry sector areas of expertise and knowledge to give themselves an edge in a more competitive investment environment.
In 2019, OC&C mirrored that same trajectory on the commercial advisory side. It was the busiest year for our Private Equity practice in our 32 year history, supporting private equity clients on hundreds of deals globally across our core sectors. Our approach, combining deep sector expertise with local insight and transaction experience enabled us to support key transactions in our focus industry sectors across the US, Europe and Asia. We also enhanced our own network depth through our merger with Long Term Partners, our new colleagues in Milan who bring highly complimentary sector practices and deep Italy experience to help us better serve our clients.
Our deal support activity demonstrates the continuing growth of our business and sector practices in both topic expertise and international footprint. Below, we share some selected successful transactions we have supported in the last 12 months that highlight our experience:
- Communications & Technology: Software, unified comms, IoT and cloud services and ICT integrators generated significant deal-flow across Europe and the US, continuing recent structural trends. A long-standing OC&C area of strength, we continued to work with major Tech-focused and other debt and equity investors across Europe and the US, including on origination, in-deal diligence and value-creation assignments. Successful transactions included work Hg (Visma refinancing), CVC (Webpros), Waterland ( Ad Ultima, Microsoft Integrator), 3i (Magnitude Software acquisition) and Providence Equity Partners (OEC sale). PE-backed and wider Corporates have also been active, and we’ve supported market leaders such as Wireless Logic (IoT), team.blue (mass hosting) and Roper Technologies (software).
- Media: Our deal support in 2019 clustered around 3 core areas: Education, where we supported TPG on the sale for both TES Global and THE, plus Ardian’s acquisition of Study Group; Publishing, where we looked at one of Europe’s largest media groups; and Classifieds, working with Apax on the acquisition of Estonian business Auto24, as well as supporting Schibsted with a £5bn IPO of Adevinta.
- Business Products & Services: 2019 saw diverse activity from private equity community within the business products and services space, with landmark deals in facilities management, professional services, testing insurance, packaging. We were pleased to support longstanding clients out of our younger offices, with our US office supporting CVC in their acquisition of Teneo, a US Professional Services firm. We are also excited to benefit from the expertise of our new colleagues Long Term Partners in Milan, whose work in verticals like packaging (Poplast acquisition by Green Arrow) and industrial manufacturing (Lambda acquisition by Principia) is a great addition to our global footprint. We also continued to consolidate our knowledge in catering (Eurochef DD for Alcedo), testing (divestment support for Spectris) and marine (Marine Press DD for ChartCo).
- Consumer Goods: Consumer goods saw activity across assets of a broad range of sizes and sub-sectors – and OC&C activity reflected that. In Food & Drink, we supported the sale of Young’s in the UK – and in CEE (where we have built the leading consumer practice in transactions), we supported Mid Europa Partners with their divestment of Balkan snacks business Bambi to Coca-Cola and water/soft drinks Knjaz Milos to KMV and PepsiCo. In durables, apparel manufacturing was a very strong area of activity (particularly in Italy), where we advised on Lampa, Ciesse Piumini and Euromoda, among others.
- Retail & Leisure: While online disruption has made retail in general a more challenging area for investment, there remained some attractive sub-sectors within this; luxury, value/ discount retail, gas stations and niche apparel/brands have all been active areas of interest. This was reflected in some of the retail deals OC&C supported, the IPO of UK-US luxury watch retailer, Watches of Switzerland and the Findos acquisition of Zizzi (in the Nordics-Germany) being prime examples. The Leisure space remained very active with highlights of successful deals OC&C supported ranging from sectors such as pubs (Greene King, acquired for £2.7bn by CKA), Nordic homeware (Wendelbo acquisition) and vacation booking (sale of ABI Caravans).
- Travel: Travel continued to be a very active sector for private equity, with particular interest in technology driven platforms, experiential travel and B2B travel players. OC&C also continued to be extremely busy in the space across the US and Europe for both corporate and private equity clients. We supported successful parties on some of the major deals of 2019 including KKR’s £1.7bn IPO of Trainline and the Carlyle acquisition of Amex Global Business Travel.
We’re delighted to have had the opportunity to work with so many great partners on such important opportunities. We would be delighted to share our deep sector and topic expertise with you further on any of the areas highlighted here that are of interest to you.