Catalyst Development kicks off acquisition campaign with Knadel deal

01 March 2018 4 min. read
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Catalyst Development, a UK-based financial markets consultancy, has acquired management consultancy Knadel. Catalyst were advised on the deal by M&A firm Livingstone’s Business Services sector team.

Financial service advisory is a hugely lucrative business at present. In 2016 alone, global banks spent about $30 billion on consultancy fees, up from $17 billion in 2008. Client demand for consulting in the sector is therefore significant, driven by far-reaching G20 commitments to making markets safer in the wake of the financial crisis.

Catalyst Development is a financial-services-focused consulting firm, with an emphasis on regulatory-driven change, organisational improvement and talent development programmes for global financial markets firms. Since its foundation in 1994, Catalyst has worked with more than 70 clients in over 30 financial centres worldwide, including nine out of the world’s top 12 investment banks, and has mentored more than 250 of the most senior figures in financial markets. Catalyst’s clients traditionally require scalable solutions for large, complex programmes of transformational change, and with a number of UK and EU-driven changes, to regulation on the horizon, such as Mifid II and GDPR, Catalyst is currently preparing for a period of sustained growth.

In Autumn 2017, this saw the financial services consultancy secure a growth investment, in the form of a management buy-out backed by Private Equity investor Livingbridge. The deal was advised by Livingstone’s Business Services sector team, with Alex John, Partner at Livingstone London, stating at the time, “The Catalyst team are one of the most impressive management teams we have worked with, and have developed an excellent reputation for deep subject matter expertise and service delivery. There is a clear market opportunity, and with the backing of Livingbridge, we are confident they will build a highly attractive specialist consultancy of genuine scale.”

Catalyst Development kicks off acquisition campaign with Knadel deal

Catalyst’s purchase of Knadel marks the first in a series of planned strategic acquisitions which will be backed by this investment. Illustrating the potential growth ahead, the combined group is forecasted to almost double business revenues in the coming financial year.

Launched in 2009, Knadel is a market-leading investment management consultancy, providing business and technology consulting across the full scale of the investment industry. Since its launch, Knadel has worked on approximately 400 projects, and with over 120 different clients. With offices in London and Jersey, Knadel works with firms who have UK, European and global business models, supporting both onshore and offshore clients.

Deal makers

Commenting on the acquisition, Andrew Middleton, CEO at Catalyst, said, “Our clients increasingly require ‘specialism at scale’: high levels of integrated expertise to tackle large, complex programmes of change. This deal will significantly broaden our offer across the full spectrum of financial markets. Catalyst has long-standing relationships with many of the world’s largest financial institutions and a strong reputation for excellence; Knadel have a remarkably similar profile with the investment management community.”

Remarking that the complimentary cultures of the two firms had been a key part of Knadel joining Catalyst, Paul Miller, Founding Managing Director at Knadel said, “Over the last nine years we have built a very successful business providing knowledge, advice and delivery to the investment & wealth management communities. Bringing together two specialist teams will allow us to extend our capabilities into new markets and provide additional services to our many clients.”

Andrew Middleton, Catalyst and Paul Miller, Knadel

Once again, Catalyst Development relied on the advice of Livingstone to complete the deal. The international firm specialises in mid-market M&A and debt advisory services, with offices in Beijing, Chicago, Düsseldorf, London, Los Angeles, Madrid and Stockholm. Its 110 professional staff completed over 60 deals in 2016, alone, while their most credentials in the specialist consultancy space include sale of Technicon Design to French engineering group Segula Technologies, Tata Technologies’ strategic acquisition of Escenda and the sale of Javelin Group to Accenture.

Speaking about Livingstone’s role in the purchase of Knadel, Andrew Middleton added, “A key pillar of our strategy for the buy-out was accelerating our growth through strategic acquisitions and, thanks to the support of Livingbridge and Livingstone, we have made our first major step on that journey.” 

Alex John, Partner at Livingstone, meanwhile concluded, “This value-enhancing acquisition, completed only four months after the buy-out with Livingbridge, adds immediate scale and greater diversity to the group. It is great to see the buy-and-build strategy coming to fruition so quickly and we look forward to continuing to support the group going forwards.”