Equiteq appoints Nick Jones as Global Head of M&A

17 September 2018 Consultancy.uk

Equiteq, an international M&A advisory firm to the professional services industry, has appointed Nick Jones as Global Head of M&A. Jones, formerly the Head of Technology at corporate finance advisory firm Cavendish, will also take on the mantel of Equiteq’s Head of Europe.

Founded in 2006, Equiteq has since become a leading global investment bank and corporate finance consultancy for the so-called “knowledge economy”, where professional services firms use knowledge and technology to generate tangible and intangible values. Equiteq is headquartered in London, with further offices in Paris, New York, Singapore and Sydney, and provides a range of strategic advisory and transaction support services to clients in consulting and IT services industries. The firm works with, among others, owners of consulting firms to help them grow their business, acquire counterparts or prepare their venture for sale.

As the firm prepares for a period of high demand, with due diligence and a number of other issues likely to become more complex for firms looking to acquire companies across Europe and the world, as Brexit approaches, Equiteq has announced that Nick Jones has joined the firm as a Managing Director, Head of Europe and Global Head of M&A. The London-based professional will focus on leading Equiteq’s growing practice in Europe, where the firm has experienced significant growth in recent times, having expanded its office footprint with another location in Paris. Jones will also work to coordinate mergers & acquisitions activity across Equiteq’s five global offices in New York, London, Paris, Singapore and Sydney.

Equiteq appoints Nick Jones as Global Head of M&A

His appointment brings over 20 years of experience to the Equiteq fold, with Jones having worked with high growth technology and services companies in both the owner-managed and private equity arenas. Jones arrives from corporate finance advisory group Cavendish, where he served was a Partner and the firm’s Head of Technology. Throughout his stint there, Jones advised on numerous transactions, including the sales of Bfinance, Reward Gateway and Micad to private equity investors, as well as the purchase of Annodata and Star Technology by strategic buyers. Before his spell with Cavendish, Jones was Partner at Clearwater Corporate Finance, where he helped build the London business from its start-up phase.

Commenting on the appointment, David Jorgenson, Equiteq’s Chief Executive Officer since 2016, said, “Nick’s long history of advising entrepreneurs and private equity shareholders in the knowledge economy will be incredibly valuable to our clients as they build and realise equity value in their firms. This move is part of our continued commitment to build the only global investment bank focused exclusively on the knowledge economy.”

Nick Jones remarked on his new challenge, “Clients are increasingly demanding specialisation and delivery across a seamless global team and I believe Equiteq is uniquely positioned with insight-led service to continue its rapid growth and become the preeminent advisor in the sector.”

Related: Deal values in management and IT consulting on the rise.

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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.