Asian management consultancy Solidiance has acquired Technomic Asia, a China-based management and M&A advisory. As part of the bolt-on, Solidiance adds around 20 consultants and associates to its ranks and expands its Chinese operations with a third hub.
Founded in 2006, by Damien Duhamel (the current CEO of the firm) and Heiko Bugs (COO), Solidiance is one of Asia’s larger specialised management consulting firms. The consultancy has seen a steep growth trajectory since its inception – what started as a two man show ten years ago from bases in Singapore and China has grown into a consultancy with a team of around 130 consultants across locations in 11 countries. Solidiance differentiates itself through a portfolio of high-end consulting services and through its dedicated focus on the Middle East and in particular the Asia region*, with offices spanning from Lebanon’s capital Beirut (launched early 2016) to its most Eastern hub in the Philippines (based in Manila; opened in 2013).
On the back of the growth, the firm’s leadership team has set out an ambitious expansion strategy for the years to come – in the summer of last year Duhamel stated that the consultancy has “plenty of room to double, if not triple, in revenue size within the next few years”, adding “there are several more emerging markets in Asia to enter and a few mature ones to tackle as well.”
As part of its execution plans, Solidiance has ramped up hiring across the region over the past 12 months, and, in a move that departs from its strategy to grow its base from within, set its sights on potential acquisition targets. “We have been approached several times to be acquired by large consulting groups,” said Duhamel a while ago, highlighting the firm’s strategy to continue as an independent partnership, adding “we are now also presented with potential acquisitions of our own.”
Solidiance’s M&A endeavours have now come to fruition as the consulting firm earlier this month unveiled that it has picked up Technomic Asia, a China-based counterpart. Technomic Asia, founded in the late ‘70s by CEO Steven Ganster, is a Shanghai-based firm that provides a range of growth strategy, M&A and operational support services. The business advisory has built a track record of almost 1,000 assignments in Asia, of which over 700 in China alone, serving both corporates such as DuPont and General Motors, as well as startups.
The move provides, according to the newly wed partners, the combined entity in China (led by Pilar Dieter; a former advisor of Accenture and Alaris Consulting) three main benefits. Firstly, it delivers the consultancy with more scale in the Chinese market, in particular key for the attractiveness of its service portfolio towards multinationals – clients which typically demand larger on the ground resourcing. The ramp up will further enable Solidiance to tap into the growing Chinese consulting market – the top tier segment of the advisory landscape is valued at around $3.3 billion according to data from Source Global Research, with the industry still seeing healthy growth rates despite the overall slowdown.
The joining of forces in addition bolsters the firm’s industry experience. “Together both parties will cover virtually every major market sector,” explains Duhamel, and sees a variety of IP, productivity tools and best practices in internal operations exchange hands. The combination of the above three factors will ultimately lead to a “greater level of service to clients” and, more importantly, a “greater capability to advancing client company value,” states the Solidiance chief executive.
Asked for how the blending of cultures is set to materialise – a feat commonly cited as a major challenge in strategy and management consulting deals (recall the cultural issues following the mergers between A.T. Kearney and EDS, KPMG Consulting and Atos or Roland Berger calling off a deal with two of the Big Four’s just to name a few) – Ganster says that he foresees no such scenario’s following integration. “We share the same no-nonsense, street-smart approach to helping our clients grow.”
Looking ahead, Solidiance COO Bugs says that the firm is looking forward to the road ahead, stating “China is again transforming its economy and our clients’ businesses with it. We, as Solidiance, are committed to supporting our clients on the ground in China with market driven actionable advice.” Among the topics forecasted to dominate transformation agendas in the country are growth strategy, innovation (China is becoming the globe’s hotspot for R&D export), talent management (top three strategic priority for CEOs in China) and corporate governance (a key barrier at corporates according to McKinsey).
The deal was completed on 12th July 2016. M&A dealmaker Equiteq acted as exclusive financial adviser to Solidiance.
* To support engagements outside the Middle East and Asia, Solidiance works together with other consultancies affiliated with NextContinent, an international network of consulting firms with around 1,100 consultants in 28 countries.