The Advisory business of EY has acquired Bluestone Consulting, an analytics and big data consultancy based in France. The deal boosts EY’s capabilities in the analytics space, bringing the total number of data scientists in France to 130.
With approximately 850 consultants, EY Advisory is one of the largest consultancy houses in France. Similar to performance across other Western regions in Europe, the Advisory practice has in recent years been the strongest performing unit of the Big Four. In FY12 the French country organisation of EY booked a revenue of €753 million, and at the time Advisory accounted for 33% of the total*. Three solid overall years down the line the total fee income has grown by more than €100 million to €855 million, with Advisory now at €317 million, taking a 37% share of the pie. In comparison, the revenue of EY Advisory UK sits at £584 million, while Advisory (+TAS) in the Netherlands earns €134 million.
In the FY12 to FY15 time period, Advisory grew by 27% in France, outperforming the other functions by a distance. Globally EY posted revenues of $28.7 billion this year, up 11% on the previous year, with Advisory the star performer (+17%), bringing its total to $7.3 billion, a quarter of the total. An analysis by Consultancy.uk last year showed that Advisory’s growth has been impressively consistent. In 2008 the management and IT consultancy unit racked in “just” $3.8 billion in income, implying that EY Advisory has nearly doubled in the space of seven years.
Looking ahead EY Advisory’s ambition is arguably even more challenging – in December last year Norman Lonergan, Global Vice Chair for EY Advisory, unveiled that the giant wants to double revenue in the next five years, leaving little room for the advisory, consulting and transaction teams to rest on their laurels. Achieving such growth purely organically is close to impossible, Lonergan acknowledges, and not surprisingly acquisitions are playing an integral part in EY’s pursuit of bumper growth. In recent months several acquisitions have been concluded, including Seren and Integrc in Europe, C3 Business Solutions in Australia and Entegreat in North America. From a size and prestige point of view, The Parthenon Group – picked up in July last year – represents the most important purchase over the past years.
In France EY has now added to the acquisition spree in the advisory space. This morning the firm revealed that it has bought Bluestone Consulting, a Paris based consultancy established in 1996 that provides data visualisation and statistical engineering techniques to businesses’ operations in the marketing, finance and risk domains. The deal represents the third transaction for EY Advisory France in the last two years. In July last year Lyon-based S.C.A. Consult joined EY’s ranks, while a year prior to that Greenwich Consulting was acquired. 80 of the in total 130 advisors of Greenwich Consulting were based in France and joined the French operations.
With the addition of Bluestone Consulting, EY boosts its data analytics capabilities in France and the broader EMEIA region, says Andrew Embury, EY Advisory Leader EMEIA. “The acquisition of Bluestone Consulting comes at a crucial time as today’s organisations are becoming increasingly data driven and are looking to harness data and analytics to make better decisions and accelerate their business performance. By combining our strengths, EY will be in a stronger position to help our clients address their big, complex business issues.”
As part of the integration, former Bluestone Consulting leaders Arnaud Laroche, Xavier de Boissieu and Pierre Capelle have joined EY in France and will lead the new combined team along with EY’s Karim Ben Djemiaa. According to Laroche, who previously led Bluestone Consulting, the joining of forces with EY will provide his firm and its employees the opportunity to do what it has been doing for the past 15 years “on a much bigger stage.”
The deal also comes at a time when the French consulting market is recovering from a poor run. The market is now valued at slightly more than €4 billion, says analyst firm Source for Consulting, with Technology the largest segment at €1.4 billion. The fastest growing segment however is finance & risk.
* Note that in France EY defines Advisory slightly different compared to other markets, such as for instance the UK and Netherlands. EY France’s revenue of Advisory combines traditional management and IT consultancy with accounting advisory and the TAS practice, which encompasses among other corporate finance and restructuring.