Accenture raises the stakes with $1.8 billion acquisition plan

05 July 2017

Consulting and technology giants Accenture have announced plans to spend a huge $1.8 billion on acquisitions to strengthen its global outfit – significantly more than what its biggest rivals have spent in the past years combined.

Aided by the planned acquisitions of companies such as analytics and cloud computing firms, Accenture, which for instance does as much business as Indian players Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Infosys and Wipro put together, has seen strong growth since it went public in 2001. Other major rivals of the firm include the Big Four in the consulting space, and media agencies in the creative landscape.

A strong inorganic push has been instrumental in Accenture's growth – the global consultancy spent more than $900 million in each of the past two years on buying companies, driven by an upsurge in demand from Fortune 1000 clients for digital and IT solutions.

Accenture is renowned for being able to blend its expertise in new technologies, such as data analytics and cloud computing, with a strong consulting and creative practice, helping clients utilise innovations which help them run their businesses better.

Accenture raises the stakes with 1.8 billion acquisition plan

Acquisitions confirmed in recent months alone include that of digital product developers Intrepid, agile software consultancy Solutions IQ, e-commerce experts Media Hive and cyber-security advisors iDefense Security.

These acquisitions have also helped Accenture future-proof its own operations, with the firm reporting its third quarter earnings coming 50% from its latest offerings in automation, cloud computing and security-related solutions. While Accenture look likely to make good on their $1.8 billion spending target in M&A meanwhile, competitors TCS, Infosys and Wipro have collectively only spent $1.58 billion on acquisitions since April 2014. Even including a further $80 million spent by Infosys and Wipro through their corporate venture arms, their levels of investment pale in comparison.

Accenture is expected to end FY17 with at-best 5.8% dollar revenue growth. For the year to August 2016, the firm's management said its acquisitions accounted for 2% of overall 10.5% constant currency growth (adjusted for a 6% dollar revenue growth). However, key to the process, is that none of Accenture’s 40 acquisitions over the past three years have been large. Rather than targeting large competitors for a short-term boom, they have aimed for smaller companies to enable them to diversify, while gaining new innovative techniques from new firms who might otherwise have become competitors. Over three quarters of the firms acquired had less than 200 staff.

“Accenture has done a tremendous job with financial engineering and M&As,” said Ray Wang, founder of Constellation Research, a technology research and advisory firm. “They have bought their way into offensive growth, entered new markets such as AI, marketing operations, and digital transformation with design firms faster than others.”

Speaking after the recent acquisition of cloud-based salesforce experts Phase One Consulting, David Moskovitz, Chief Executive of Accenture Federal Services, said, “New cloud and Software-as-a-Service platforms are transforming both the federal technology landscape and the way agencies serve their customers and achieve their missions. Through investments like our acquisition of Phase One, we are expanding our capabilities, technology and skills to help lead our federal clients on their journey to be more agile, responsive and secure in a digital world.”


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SQW Group purchases property-based regeneration consultancy

19 April 2019

UK consulting firm SQW Group has completed its first acquisition since it completed a management buyout in January 2019. BBP Regeneration joins the company having collaborated with SQW for more than 20 years.

Established in 1983, SQW Group now operates all over the world. Comprising SQW, Oxford Innovation, Oxford Innovation Services – one of the UK’s leading innovation centre operators – and Oxford Investment Opportunities Network, the organisation’s origins can be traced to Britain’s two ancient university cities: Oxford, through Oxford Trust founders, Martin and Audrey Wood, and Cambridge, through SQW’s work in producing The Cambridge Phenomenon.

The consultancy specialises in public policy, working with entities from the public, private and voluntary sectors to research, develop, implement and evaluate social and economic development interventions. It now employs over 250 people across regional offices in London, Oxford and Edinburgh, and provides business support to over 4,000 entrepreneurs and small businesses each year. At the start of 2019, SQW secured its independence in a management buyout, advised on by M&A experts from Liberty Corporate Finance and Penningtons Manches.

SQW Group purchases property-based regeneration consultancy

SQW has strengthened its position as a provider of services across the business spectrum with the acquisition of BBP Regeneration. Founded in 1994, the consulting firm specialises in land and property-based regeneration and growth schemes, and is a leading social and economic development consultancy. 

The two firms first worked together over 20 years ago, when SQW and BBP collaborated to develop the first Regional Economic Strategy for the South East. More recently, they developed an economic strategy for Thanet and are now working together in locations stretching from Cwmbran via Oxfordshire to London.

With the addition of BBP, SQW can now provide an integrated advisory service for organisations developing property schemes which deliver economic benefit to their local area. By joining SQW, meanwhile, BBP hopes to further enhance its ability to support clients in delivering property and place-making ambitions. 

Speaking about the deal, SQW CEO David Crichton-Miller commented, “The UK more than ever needs solutions to the challenges of places – of high streets under threat, of meeting housing delivery targets, and of both economically over-successful and economically challenged towns and cities – and the combination of SQW and BBP is uniquely suited to developing those solutions. [This deal] brings together critical and complementary services relating to places to serve our clients with leading edge and practical advice.”

Andy Smith, Director of BBP Regeneration, added, “SQW shares with BBP the same values of seeking to provide outstanding, practical, real world advice that helps get buildings built and places developed.  We greatly look forward to the opportunities that come from joining our two organisations together.”