15 advisory and consulting firms take home M&A Advisor Awards

17 November 2016 Consultancy.uk

The M&A Advisor has unveiled the winners of the 2016 edition of its Advisor Awards. In total around 100 investment banks, law firms and consulting firms have been recognised for their contribution to landmark M&A results and excellence in engagement delivery. Among the winners are more than fifteen consulting firms, including the likes of Bain & Company, the Big Four, Alvarez & Marsal and FTI Consulting. 

Since the inception of the M&A Advisor Awards in 2002, the annual competition – run by US-based M&A community The M&A Advisor – has grown into one of the globe’s premier events that celebrate excellence in deal making and the performance of industry professionals, spanning corporate finance, restructuring, M&A transaction support and debt advisory services, among others.

This year over 320 nominations, from over 600 companies, came through the selection procedure and became finalists for the awards. An independent judging committee of 35 leading M&A industry experts judged the testimonials of the finalists, with the winners across the 10 categories* announced at the annual gala for the M&A Advisor Awards, held last week at The New York Athletic Club.

Winners of the M&A Advisor Awards

On the evening, more than fifteen consulting firms managed to scoop an award. KPMG was recognised, together with Foley & Lardner, Bredin Prat and Green Tech Capital, for its support to the acquisition of Green Charge Networks by ENGIE. The French energy giant took an 80% stake in the California based battery storage company in May this year, a deal which was closed just a day after French oil giant Total shelled out $1.1 billion to purchase the shares of Saft, a peer of Green Charge Networks that specialises in lithium-ion battery technology.

15th annual M&A Advisor Awards Winners

KPMG also picked up an award for its work on the purchase of Market Pay by Payscale and for its advisory on the sale of Optimum Plastics, a portfolio company of US-based Huron Capital Partners, to Charter NEX Films, a private equity fund of Pamplona Capital Management. 

The category ‘Corporate/Strategic Acquisition of the Year’ in the deal range over $500 million was won by ten M&A advisory firms, including law firms Winston & Strawn, Bass, Berry & Sims, Cravath, Swaine & Moore, investment banking arms of Credit Suisse and UBS, and Big Four giants Deloitte and KPMG. They supported Community Health Systems with the spin-off of Quorum Health Corporation, which is now an independent public company and listed on the New York Stock Exchange. 

Deloitte Consulting won the most prestigious firm prize for consultants, taking home the ‘Consulting Firm of the Year Award’. The consultancy and also took home an award for its support of the merger between Cyberonics and Sorin, a move which created LivaNova, today one of the globe’s largest medical technology companies. Other parties that advised on the transaction (‘M&A Deal of the Year; $1 billion to $5 billion’) included McGuireWoods, Gattai Minoli Agostinelli & Partners, Latham & Watkins, Legance Avvocati Associati, Rothschild and Sullivan & Cromwell. Deloitte’s Financial Advisory business was heralded for its involvement with the financing of Advanced Diagnostic Group (‘Debt Financing Deal of the Year’).

Big Four rivals EY and PwC also were successful on the night. EY won an award for its role in the $50 million investment by M/C Partners and J.P. Morgan's private equity group in Everstream Solutions, a US network service provider that brings fiber-based ethernet, internet and data center solutions to business customers throughout northeast Ohio. Other deal makers that enabled the ‘Telecommunications Services Deal of the Year’ were Choate, Hall & Stewart, Morgan Stanley, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, MVP Capital and Thompson Hine. Consultants from EY in addition were among the winning teams for the ‘Consumer Staples Deal of the Year’ (the pick-up of ABL Management by Eloir North America) and ‘Industrials Deal of the Year’ (the divestment of Doosan E&C HRSG to GE Power).

M&A Advisor Awards Winners

PwC added two M&A Awards to its deals track record. The firm was involved with GTCR’s sale of AssuredPartners to private equity firm Apax Partners, which reportedly made a four times return on its investment (Private Equity Deal of the Year; over $1 billion), and part of the team that closed the $5.6 billion acquisition of GE Appliances by Chinese appliance maker Haier Group (M&A Deal of the Year; $5 billion - $20 billion). FTI Consulting, a management consultancy with 4,600 employees globally, was also involved, as were White & Case, Sidley Austin and General Electric. The same deal team managed to scoop another award category for the same engagement – that of ‘Cross Border Deal of the Year; over $1 billion’. 

The M&A Award in the category ‘Private Equity Deal of the Year; $100 million - $2250 million) went to advisers from Alvarez & Marsal, Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle, Bain & Company, Finn Dixon & Herling, McGuireWoods and Morehead Capital, for their assistance on the acquisition of Chopt Creative Salad Company by organic products company The Hain Celestial Group and private equity firm Catterton. Alvarez & Marsal also scooped awards in the categories ‘Healhtcare Deal of the Year’ (the restructuring of Capitol Lakes) and ‘Restructuring Deal of the Year’ (Chapter 11 of O.W. Bunker Debtors), both turnarounds that involved an army of law firms, including the likes of DLA Piper, Ballard Sphar, Husch Blackwell, Murphy Desmond, Sweet DeMarb, Allen & Overy, Gavin/Solmonese, Halloran & Sage, Hunton & Williams, Norton Rose Fulbright and Robinson & Cole.

Grant Thornton too was involved in the restructuring of Capitol Lakes – the retirement institution filed for protection and reorganisation under Chapter 11 in January this year after it failed to reach an agreement on the extension of loans with two foreign banks. The Corporate Finance service lines of BDO and Crowe Horwath took home prizes for supporting the carve-out of Total Plastics (M&A deal of the Year; $50 million - $75 million) and the sale of Optimum Plastics to Charter NEX Films (M&A deal of the Year; $100 million - $200 million), respectively.

Other consulting firms that were recognised for deal making excellence include P&M Corporate Finance, a corporate finance boutique with offices in Chicago and Detroit; DC Advisory, the European corporate finance arm of Daiwa Securities Group; Raymond James, a real estate consultancy, and Qatalyst Partners, a boutique M&A advisory with hubs in San Francisco and London; BCMS, a North American M&A firm; and BDA Partners, a New York headquartered financial advisory. 

M&A Advisor Awards - Advisory

Consulting deal

The category ‘Cross Border Deal of the Year’, for the range $50 million - $100 million, was won by Equiteq, an M&A firm that specialises in deals in the consulting industry. In October last year technology giant Infosys bought Noah Consulting, a US based IT consultancy for the oil and gas industry, for a reported sum of $70 million – Equiteq provided sell-side advisory. Commenting on the prize, Nico Esposito, Equiteq’s Managing Director for North America, who collected the award at the ceremony in New York, said, “Our thanks go to Noah Consulting, who gave us the opportunity to work with them and to help realise the value they had built in their very exciting business.”

Reflecting on the efforts of the winners, David Fergusson, President and Co-Chief Executive Officer of The M&A Advisor, said: “While our industry has undergone significant transformation since our first awards were presented 14 years ago, we are convinced, more than ever before, that M&A is a driving force of the economy. It is truly an honour for our firm to be able to recognise the contribution that the 2016 award finalists have made.” 

* The categories of the M&A Advisor Awards are: Firms of the Year, Sector Deals of the Year, M&A Professionals of the Year, M&A Product/Service of the Year, Deal Financing of the Year, Restructuring Deal of the Year, Corporate/Strategic Acquisition of the Year, Cross-Border Deal of the Year, Private Equity Deal of the Year and M&A Deal of the Year.


8 tips for successfully buying or selling a distressed business

18 April 2019 Consultancy.uk

Embarking on the sale of a business is one of the most challenging experiences a management team can undertake. Even serial dealmakers acknowledge that the transaction process can be gruelling, exposing management to a level of scrutiny and challenge through due diligence that can be distinctly uncomfortable.

So, to embark on a sale process when a business is in distress is twice as challenging. While management is urgently trying to keep the business afloat, they are simultaneously required to prepare it for scrutiny by potential acquirers. Tim Wainwright, an experienced Transactions Partner with Eight Advisory, says that this dual requirement means sellers of distressed businesses must focus on presenting their business in a way that supports buyers in identifying value, whilst simultaneously being open about the causes of distress. 

According to Wainwright, sellers of distressed businesses should focus on eight key aspects to ensure they are as well prepared as possible:

  • Cash: In a distressed situation cash truly is king. Accurate forecasting and day-by-day cash balances are often required to ensure any buyer is confident that scarce cash reserves are under proper control. 
  • Equity story and turnaround plan: Any buyer is going to want to understand the proposed turnaround strategy: how is the business going to enact its recovery and what value can be created that means the distressed business is worth saving? Clear presentation of this strategy is essential.
  • The business model: Clear demonstration of how the business model generates cash is required, with analysis that shows how financial performance will respond to key changes – whether these are positive improvements (e.g., increases in revenue) or emerging risks that further damage the business.  Demonstrating the business is resilient enough to cope with these changes can go a long way to assuring investors there is a viable future.
  • Management team: As outlined above, this is a challenging process. The management team are in it together and need to be consistent in presenting the turnaround. Above all, the team needs to be open about the underlying causes that resulted in the distressed situation arising.  A defensive management team who fail to acknowledge root causes of distress are unlikely to resolve the situation.

8 tips for successfully buying or selling a distressed business

  • Financing: More than in any traditional transaction, distressed businesses need to understand the impact on working capital. The distressed situation frequently results in costs rising as credit insurance becomes more difficult to obtain or as customers and suppliers reduce credit. Understanding how these unwind will be important to the potential investors.
  • Employees: Any restructuring programme can be difficult for employees. Maintaining open communications and respecting the need for consultation is the basic requirement. In successful turnarounds, employees are often deeply engaged in designing and developing solutions. Demonstrating a supportive, flexible employee base can often support the sale process.
  • Structuring: Understanding how to structure the business for the proposed acquisition can add significant value. Where possible, asset sales may be preferred, enabling buyers to move forward with limited liabilities. However, impacts on customers, employees and other stakeholders need to be considered.
  • Off balance sheet assets: In the course of selling a distressed business, additional attention is often given to communicating the value of items that may not be fully valued in the financial statements. Brands, intellectual property and historic tax losses are all examples of items that may be of significant value to a purchaser. Highlighting these aspects can make an acquisition more appealing.

“These eight focus areas can help to sell a distressed business and are important in reaching a successful outcome, but it should be noted that it will remain a challenging process,” Wainwright explains. 

With recent studies indicating that the valuation of distressed business is trending north. With increased appetite from buyers who are accustomed to taking on these situations, it is likely that more distressed deals will be seen in the coming months. “Preparing management teams as best as possible for delivering these will be key to ensuring these businesses can pass on to new owners who can hopefully drive the restructuring required to see these succeed,” Wainwright added.