M&A awards 2022 www.acquisition-international.com • M&A Awards 2022 Best U.S. Small & Medium Business Buyer 2022 Founders Trust works with founders and owners who are looking to sell their small- and mediumsized privately held companies. These individuals have spent decades building their companies; developed them, grown them, and now it is time to exit. Some are ready to retire, others enjoy what they do and would like to continue doing some of the work – but they don’t want ownership weighing on them anymore. We take a closer look at how Founders Trust ensures the long-term success of each of the companies it buys, while also preserving their values, teams, and independence.
2 Acquisition International - M & A Awards 2022 About the M&A Awards 2022 After a record-breaking year in 2021, we are seeing dynamic structural changes as the M&A industry begins to reinvent and recover. Sectors like Technology, Healthcare and Advanced Manufacturing and many more will target the systemic issues and prove to be triumphant again in 2022. The M&A Awards is hosted by Acquisition international again for the sixth year and will once again highlight the leading companies whose performances have stood out in this competitive market. As mentioned, the deal making environment is advancing greatly, and Acquisition international is looking to award the companies who are evolving too. Nominees in the M&A Awards 2022 will be assessed based on their achievements over the year by our in-house panel of judges. This assessment will be centred around the evaluation of commercial success, resilience and considering those who are building trust across a wider coalition. Sofi Bajor - Senior Editor Contents 4 Founders Trust: Best U.S. Small & Medium Business Buyer 2022 6 Virtual Services Company: M&A Integration Specialist of the Year 2022 (UK): Samantha French 8 MetaU Corp: Most Innovative Cryptocurrency Purchase & Sales Exchange Platform 2022 10 Transworld UK M&A Advisors: Lower Mid-Market M&A Advisory Firm of the Year - UK 11 Quinta Capital SGR: Most Innovative Asset Management Firm – Italy 12 NorthC: Best Data Centre & Connectivity Acquisition (Europe): NorthC/Netrics 13 SCD Advisory: Best M&A Boutique 2022 - Australia No information contained on or in this website constitutes investment advice or an offer to invest or to provide management services and is subject to correction, completion and amendment without notice. Neither AI nor any of its associated entities are authorised to give financial advice of any nature nor are they regulated by the Financial Services Authority. Prior to making any investment, AI recommends that any prospective investor should consult with its own investment, accounting, legal and tax advisers to evaluate independently the risks, consequences and suitability of that investment. AI Global Media, Ltd. (AI) takes reasonable measures to ensure the quality of the information on this web site. However, AI will not assume any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, correctness or completeness of any information that is available through this web site. If errors are brought to our attention, we will try to correct them. The information available through the website and our partner publications is for your general information and use and is not intended to address any particular finance or investment requirements. In particular, the information does not constitute any form of advice or recommendation by us or any of our partner publications and is not intended to be relied upon by users in making or refraining from making any investment or financial decisions. Appropriate independent advice should be obtained before making any such decision. Any arrangement made between you and any third party named in the site is at your sole risk and responsibility. Editors Sofi Bajor, Senior Editor Rebecca Scotland, Editor Designers Daniela Levinte, Graphic Designer Lauren Baldwin, Graphic Designer 14 SIFI: Best Eye Care Cross-Border Joint Venture Project: Project China 15 WTA Partners: Best Technology M&A & Business Advisory Service 2022 16 SysGroup PLC: Best Cyber Security Acquisition (UK): SysGroup PLC/ Truststream Security Solutions 17 Mazars in Romania: Best Mid-Market Due Diligence Experts – CEE 18 Venture Corporate Finance: M&A Newcomer of the Year 2022 – UK & Best Communications Business Sale 2022 (UK): ADSI Ltd. 19 OnCentive & SyncStream: Best Compliance Software Acquisition 2022:SyncStream / OnCentive
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4 Acquisition International - M & A Awards 2022 Oct22615 Best U.S. Small & Medium Business Buyer 2022 Founders Trust works with founders and owners who are looking to sell their small- and medium-sized privately held companies. These individuals have spent decades building their companies; developed them, grown them, and now it is time to exit. Some are ready to retire, others enjoy what they do and would like to continue doing some of the work – but they don’t want ownership weighing on them anymore. We take a closer look at how Founders Trust ensures the long-term success of each of the companies it buys, while also preserving their values, teams, and independence. Founders Trust is a big admirer of founders. People that start from scratch, people who essentially begin their business journey with nothing. Most of the time, they don’t even know the business that they are getting into, and they don’t have any connections from the start. But over time, they build a great business, often with a lot of personal sacrifices. They bring jobs to many employees who are able to grow personally and professionally and support their families. They help numerous clients, whose lives are enhanced by receiving great products or services. The time comes that the founder has worked all these years, and it’s time for him to exit and to pass the baton. To do that successfully, he has to do it early enough that he has time for a successful transition. Some founders want to exit and retire; others want to exit and continue working in the company without the weight of ownership. This is where Founders Trust comes in. CEO of Founders Trust, Matt Williamson says, “We believe that businesses have intrinsic value, and they should continue to grow and succeed.” Mr. Williamson says, “Business owners build their companies from nothing. We have respect for these people. And we’re here to help them achieve their exit. They deserve to see their work and what they believe in, to continue on. And the employees deserve to grow and be successful. We give a part of the ownership to all of the employees, and we incentivize them. We support companies for success and growth, and give companies what they need to do that.” Usually, buyers belong to two categories, the ‘strategic’ and the ‘financial’ buyers. ‘Strategic’ buyers typically lay off employees, cut costs, or absorb, merge, or conglomerate the company into their existing operations, and the company soon disappears, and it is like it never existed. ‘Financial’ buyers focus on time-framed returns and short term investment horizons. They also typically lay off employees, cut costs, do a few quick fixes, over-leverage the company, and exit the company to hit their IRR target. This puts the company into an endless cycle of acquisition and disposition to financial buyers in order to achieve IRRs. This puts a lot of pressure on the employees, the company, and often the quality of the product or service that the company offers. Both types of buyers use other people’s money, so they don’t have the same sense of stewardship. They are the faceless organizations that conglomerate investors and companies. Companies disappear into the Borg. To be a different type of buyer is why Founders Trust exists. Mr. Williamson explains, “We are for sellers that care about their legacy, employees, clients, brand name, history, vendors, and local community. All of these are preserved. We are for sellers that care about the continuation of their company and its culture, and the company achieving its potential. We are for sellers that care about their employees and want to see them succeed, and see them given part of the equity, and incentivized. They want to see their employees do well, too, because they helped the business owner to reach where he is today. With Founders Trust shared ownership, the employees do very well.” Mr. Williamson also explains, “The companies grow, and become stronger and stronger. It is a permanent home for the company. We are not returns driven, we are quality of company driven: if it is a good quality company, then over time, long term value will be created. We don’t need our money back within a certain time frame.” Each exiting founder has different needs, goals, and timeframes. For retiring business owners, their need is often to have a short transition period due to certain circumstances that do not allow them to spend time in the business anymore. In cases like this, Founders Trust works with the ownership to design a successful transition period around their schedule. Wherever possible, existing employees at the company are trained and prepared to step up and create a new leadership team. Founders Trust has developed processes in how to prepare these individuals to replace the owner-manager. It is a difficult process and one which has been refined extensively over the decades. In some cases, Founders Trust will bring in talent from outside of the company, but it is preferred that it comes from within. This gives the opportunity to existing employees and executives to take on roles with more advanced responsibilities. All of the activities during the transition period are overseen by Founders Trust, including the strategy and creating budget limits with the leadership team. It is there to help in any way possible. Founders
Acquisition International - M & A Awards 2022 5 Best U.S. Small & Medium Business Buyer 2022 Trust’s role is to support and help and reinforce in any other area needed, whether legal, accounting, marketing, branding, online presence, or sales team development. It can provide any kind of specialized advice, appreciating that different companies need help in different areas. Founders Trust talks transparently with founders to come up with a solution that supports founders’ timelines and what they want to do. Founders may want to have a longer transition period. Other times, business owners want to be able to keep doing what they love in their own business, minus the heavy admin work that comes with ownership. They want to go back to doing what they used to love in their business. In cases like this, Founders Trust can provide this luxury: to buy their business, and let them continue being part of the organisation – either in a leadership position or not, depending on their preference. On many occasions, previous owners of companies stay with the company in the form of a board member or an advisory role, and they keep their desks at the company, contributing as and when they want to, not in an obligatory manner. Mr. Williamson says, “Founders Trust has very specific criteria for the businesses that we are interested in. We buy small to mediumsized privately-owned companies, with successful management in place, and a strong operating track record. That means profitable companies that have some successful history behind them. We’re not interested in start-ups because start-ups do not have management in place which is already successful, with a history behind them.” Founders Trust’s process is transparent. Once it understands that a company might be the right company for it, a very short pre due diligence will take place. Mr. Williamson explains, “When we reach the point that we have decided to submit an offer, the offer will be transparent, and will be explained in detail. There won’t be unclarified points that are going to be negotiated or defined or thought about later.” He continues, “The owner can ask anything, or their advisors can ask anything they need to, and we explain it. Now, the reason that’s important is because the majority of other potential buyers do not work like that. You receive an offer that is not very well defined. And it definitely doesn’t explain the reasons of why, or how it is calculated. Very, very important.” So, as an expert in M&A, we asked Mr. Williamson what advice he would give to those who are looking to succeed within the industry. He shares, “First is having a very well-defined criteria about the businesses. Second is having the courage to be upfront with the sellers and everyone you work with. Explain to them your criteria, so it’s clear whether it’s a company for you, so you don’t waste your time and they don’t waste their time. Also, let them know how you do the pricing of these companies. What are your parameters? Being up front with that; not being vague about it and then later stumbling into problems.” Company: Founders Trust Contact: Matt Williamson Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: (312) 373-1123 Web Address: www.founderstrust.org
6 Acquisition International - M & A Awards 2022 Oct22285 M&A Integration Specialist of the Year 2022 (UK): Samantha French Samantha French’s Virtual Services Company offers a different perspective on business services – it is trustworthy, supportive, passionate, and professional, and it strives to provide the best solutions for its clients. With customers flocking in from a plethora of industries, the company’s success is clear to see, henceforth, Acquisition International is delighted to recognise Samantha and Virtual Services Company as leaders within their industry. 2020 was a turbulent year, with the Covid-19 pandemic, political upheaval, and an economic crisis being at the forefront of everyone’s minds. The M&A sector met with a slow start in Q1; however, by Q2 demand was beginning to sky rocket as customers capitalised on the predictions of slow growth. The success of the sector has continued throughout 2020, 2021, and into 2022, with activity only just beginning to fall. Innovation flowed into the industry and out of it came an abundance of exciting new projects, businesses, and ideas. The Virtual Services Company came to be in 2020, founded by Samantha French as a specialist consultancy in M&A Integration and Separation as well as several other disciplines: Operating Model and Business Model design and implementation, e-Learning, Programme Management, Strategy and planning, Corporate Communications and Social Media. Indeed, the company provides these services to a highly diverse clientele, with customers ranging from start-ups to global corporations across a number of sectors, including Financial Services, Pharma, Healthcare, Telco, Media, e-Sports, Gaming, Automotive, Data, Food and Beverage, FMCG and many more. Moreover, the Virtual Services Company has worked on a number of well publicised transactions, such as the Divestment of Borsa Italiana from the London Stock Exchange to Euronext. Such projects were able to take place thanks to the extensive industry knowledge Virtual Services Company boasts. As Samantha tells us, ‘Our knowledge is based on experience from working within industry, this is where we differ from other consultancies and advisory firms. We have the knowledge and understanding of the full life cycle of M&A. We understand the challenges our clients face on a daily basis; we work to resolve these and so we put this at the forefront of our delivery. We work with our clients to ensure their business is set up for success. When our teams work on projects, the clients can rely on us to deliver and ensure the Integration or the Separation is successful. Our goal is to ensure the acquisition or divestment’s operational capability whilst building strong relationships with the programme and leadership teams – across both sides of the transaction.’ Client-centricity is, in essence, the company’s main priority, and therefore, Virtual Services Company embraces its core values. It vows to always provide a professional, quality service that is competitive in the market and exceeds its customers expectations. As such, it treats its clients with respect, working collaboratively with them in order to achieve their goals and objectives. These values – and the company’s strong moral principles – inform the way in which Virtual Services Company interacts with its clients from the beginning to the end of a project. Of course, this attitude ties into Virtual Services Company’s mission: to support UK professionals. Behind this goal is the Virtual Services Company team who work exceptionally hard to bring clients’ dreams to life. Each member of the team is treated as leader; their opinions are valuable to the company and the team works together to share knowledge. ‘Our vision is clear - the client comes first. Our values demonstrate honesty and integrity and recent feedback from client surveys has shown that this is well received,’ Samantha adds. The team’s role is quite simply integral to the company’s success, which is why Virtual Services Company strives to treat its employees with respect and understanding. For example, the teams are provided with a healthy work/life balance, which Samantha states ‘makes our Monday morning conversations enjoyable with catchups from the weekends.’ Samantha leads the team with integrity and transparency, utilising her wealth of experience in Strategy, M&A, and Integration and Separation to create a positive and motivated working environment. A leader through and through, Samantha is constantly looking for new ways to upskill – for new ways to benefit the clients – and as a result, she has built a business that is ever evolving and is adaptable. Consequently, as a hobby and for development, she is currently working towards a Doctorate at Aston University focusing
Acquisition International - M & A Awards 2022 7 M&A Integration Specialist of the Year 2022 (UK): Samantha French on the M&A landscape. When asked about her role, Samantha comments, ‘As a leader; we all face similar challenges, ensuring we spend the right amount of time with our clients and our teams and ensuring we have time to grow personally. Internally we’ve built a strong relationship with the team, where we value everyone’s knowledge, expertise, and input.’ It is thanks to Samantha’s ingenuity that Virtual Services Company has been able to thrive within the changing industry. In fact, the team are busy working on a mountain of transactions due to close in late 2022 and early 2023, with exciting projects lying in wait for the long-term future. The company is excited about leading the way for newcomers in the industry – this year, Samantha presented to Aston University’s MSc students on Integration and Separation. Virtual Services Company plans to continue fulfilling projects such as this going forwards. Contact: Samantha French Company: Virtual Services Company Web Address: https://www.virtualservicescompany.com/ Email: email@example.com
8 Acquisition International - M & A Awards 2022 Nov22249 Most Innovative Cryptocurrency Purchase & Sales Exchange Platform 2022 Californian fintech firm, MetaU Corp provides clients with a secure platform from which to buy and sell cryptocurrency. It offers a ‘no hidden fee’ guarantee and a real-time view of cryptocurrency prices. We take a look at the world of crypto and speak to MetaU founder, Dan Clayton to find out more. In 2009, the world’s first cryptocurrency, Bitcoin was born, and it was in 2010 that the first crypto transaction was made, where 10,000 Bitcoin were exchanged for two pizzas. This virtual ‘money’ exists purely as a digital entry in an online database, with transactions being recorded in a public ledger, or blockchain. Created using encryption algorithms, crypto is able to function as both currency and a virtual accounting system. According to crypto supporters, blockchain transactions are more secure than traditional payment mechanisms. Offered as an alternative to fiat currencies such as the US dollar, many believed crypto would fast become the universal currency for the evolving digital world. 13 years on, the reality is perhaps slower and less impactful than first predicted. But, with thousands of different cryptos on the market today, it’s hard to deny the popularity of this digital currency to conventional money. Thus, it is increasingly possible to use crypto to make purchases. Yet, when the multi-billion dollar exchange, FTX, filed for bankruptcy recently, it served to highlight further doubts about the validity of the sector. With no centralised regulation or recovery plan, the value of major cryptocurrencies fell dramatically. At the time of writing, the situation is changing daily as other exchanges work to reassure the public of their liquidity. One company that’s building an honest and reliable reputation in the crypto market is MetaU Corp, putting powerful Bitcoin and crypto exchange in users’ pockets and enabling the powerful buying, selling, and trading of crypto on the go. MetaU states its vision as “wanting to transform the world with the power of cryptocurrency”. In this little-regulated sector, security is of paramount importance and the company prides itself on providing access to the “most secure exchange”. With over 30 cryptocurrencies on offer including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Solana, and Dogecoin, MetaU’s platform is supported by state-ofthe-art technology and the highest security protocols. MetaU’s app is accessible on Android and iOS devices and enables users to access and trade digital assets, tokens, stocks, and FX from anywhere in the world, 24 hours a day. It has grown a community of over 10 million crypto users who are highly satisfied with the platform. The company boasts a five-star rating on the app, with one user commenting, “Very nice! The platform is very user-friendly and relevant. Well done, MetaU!” In addition, the company will soon be adding a fast and secure multilingual cryptocurrency wallet to its portfolio. Next, we ask Dan to tell us about current trends in the industry: “There’s a lot of potential in the crypto market. But currently, we’re seeing a downturn. It’s not the first time crypto value has fallen. Over the years, when the market slumped, it jumped back even more powerfully. So we think the chances are high that crypto will bounce back in 2023.” In fact, crypto is already making a comeback at present, with Bitcoin prices having stabilised at around $23,000 to $24,000 after plunging below $20,000 in June. The prices of Ethereum and other leading digital currencies have also rallied in recent months, leading to hopes that this growing market may have reached its bottom. Leading by example, Dan believes in bringing out the best in his team through mutual understanding and respect. He says, “It helps to keep the team aligned with, and working towards our company vision. We focus on solving problems based on the needs of our clients and market demands.” Valuing clarity and resourcefulness, Dan and the team are equipped with all the resources needed to fulfil their objectives, while committed to dreaming big but staying humble. With determination, they have their sights firmly set on innovation and the future, executing their ideas accordingly, and driving positive change. So what challenges has MetaU faced so far? Dan tells us, “We’ve experienced some unavoidable issues. The technological advances needed to ensure the security of our platform took longer than anticipated. This inevitably impacted our platform launch. Our priority has always been to gain and retain the trust of our traders. To do that, we needed the best possible platform. In fact, although this was a challenge, it felt more like an opportunity.”
Acquisition International - M & A Awards 2022 9 Most Innovative Cryptocurrency Purchase & Sales Exchange Platform 2022 Dan attributes much of the company’s success to good, honest, hard work and keeping its feet firmly on the ground. He subscribes to what he calls the 30/70 method. “I spend 30% of my effort reviewing historical data and 70% planning for the future using AI and machine learning technology. It’s important to think outside the box, and just keep going, keep running on the track.” Despite a larger-than-normal amount of investors pulling out of crypto exchanges in recent months, the sector remains optimistic. Thanks to an emergence of secure platforms such as MetaU, experts’ predictions for 2023 say the market could recover and that now is likely the best time to invest. The bear market is looking to be over at the beginning of next year, and once the crypto market is at the bottom, a bull market is expected to happen. Perhaps even web3 will become the next big thing. Ultimately, MetaU loves to retain its leadership of the market. Dan says, “It’s wonderful that the worldwide markets are starting to adopt crypto as a secure method of payment. We know it’s going to be a long and involved process to move from traditional credit card and fiat payments to digital currency. But we’re excited to see it happening in our era.” Contact: Dan Clayton Company: MetaU Corp Web Address: www.metauco.com
10 Acquisition International - M & A Awards 2022 Lower Mid-Market M&A Advisory Firm of the Year - UK ince 2015, the team at Transworld have been helping business owners and investors to secure mutually beneficial deals. Under the capable leadership of Henry Ziff, alongside his team of local partners based around the UK in local markets, Transworld has earned itself a recognised and trusted name within the challenging field of M&A. The sheer volume and range of variety in the transactions and sectors that Transworld has been able to complete is very impressive and is what drives this dynamic team to further successes. Each new client and business is approached with the same level of problem-solving and commitment to finding the optimum outcome for all parties involved. Transworld look after their smallest and biggest clients like it’s their own business. Whether its retirement sales, management buy-outs or earlier stage growth capital, Transworld will find the most effective and efficient path to success for all parties. It is this relentless and reliable approach that has quickly carved Transworld out as the obvious team to turn to when selling or acquiring a business. So confident in their ability to achieve desired results, Transworld guarantees a lack of fee in the event of an unsuccessful outcome. Their willingness to stake their own reputation to find the best deal for their clients is testament to the company’s resolve and conviction in getting the right results for all parties. Typically, the team’s transactions range between 0-£100m in enterprise value, with most owner managed clients tending to sit between the £1-10m EBITDA range. Currently, Transworld has 15 partner offices across the UK. Each of these satellite offices benefits from the incredible resources of Transworld’s centralised support functions and deal platform. Instead of channelling valuable energy into doing the legwork, partners are able to focus on the unique needs of their clients to get the deal done as quickly as possible and get the best value for them. When it comes to delivering exceptional value for money and impressive customer service, the system has proven to be a roaring success. Transworld’s unique structure makes it an immensely scalable system. The company is continually expanding across the UK and beyond. S Expertise, experience, and remarkable insight are the unique skills integral to transactions of companies valued between £3 - £50 million. The Transworld UK M&A team has (mastered) this elusive, and highly effective, combination of skillsets , which is why time and time again they are able to meet the specialised needs of vendors and investors. Their continued success has been reflected at the Acquisition International’s M & A Awards 2022, where the team scooped the award for Lower Mid-Market M&A Advisory Firm of the Year - UK. Here, we explore how Transworld’s unique and exceptional approach to business has yielded great results so far. Company: Transworld UK M&A Advisors Name: Henry Ziff Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web Address: https://transworldukmanda.com/ Aug22226 Beyond the UK’s borders, the team have over 250 offices in 18 countries which includes the UK, the USA, Canada, the Middle East and beyond. Needless to say, this incredible flexibility means that the team’s clients’ chances of maximising the potential of a timely and successful transaction is increased significantly, with access to a wider pool of buyers. With such an incredible record of success and an inbuilt ability to guide clients through important, life-changing transactions, it’s of little surprise that the team has achieved such great success and continues to. We congratulate and celebrate their rightfully achieved award and cannot wait to see what they do next!
Acquisition International - M & A Awards 2022 11 developing alternative asset classes for solid growth. This includes the launch of two more funds alongside the pre-existing repertoire. First is the PHHL Nursing Homes Fund, a fund already operational and born thanks to some foreign family offices. It is a closed-end real estate alternative investment fund reserved for professional investors. The fund is focused on pursuing investments in the RSA sector – including senior housing and assisted living – through the acquisition and management of assets located throughout Italy. This asset class is a market niche that shows ample margins for development. Then there is the Camplus Long Term Fund, the first fund of Quinta Capital classified under Article. 8 of the SFDR Regulation. The fund is focused on the student housing sector, born from a partnership stipulated with a primary operator in the industry, both for the enhancement of the real estate assets owned by the manager through a sale and leaseback operation and for investing into future opportunities. In fact, it also covers the development of a pipeline of new real estate initiatives already identified in properties to be converted into student residences. Despite the success of these endeavours, the national and international climate continues to bring new challenges. From inflation, cost of living, a spike in construction costs, international geopolitical events, and more, Quinta has many factors it must remain aware of. But Quinta is also coming out of a period of record numbers – and monitoring and accounting for the market are what it does best. Together with the fact that the investment approach of foreign capital is mainly opportunistic in nature, Quinta has decided on a cooldown on other new operations in favour of further pumping these newer funds – as well as its additional funds – to solidify its stake in the Italian market further and continue its streak of record numbers. Its particular knowledge of the investment market and ability to provide innovative and customised solutions ensures that Quinta Capital SGR can satisfy its partners with excellent results. All this has earned it the award for Most Innovative Asset Management Firm in Italy as it continually invests in many unique and innovative ways that always find easy success under its expert guidance. Contact: Stefano Miola Company: Quinta Capital SGR Web Address: https://quintacapital.com/ Email Address: email@example.com Oct22294 Most Innovative Asset Management Firm – Italy Like the rest of Europe, Italy has many factors that investors and funds must be aware of to maintain or grow their levels of success. Quinta Capital SGR keeps things fresh and it is always hunting for new ways to enter the market or develop. It stands clear of its competitors with its innovative investments and approach. he Quinta Capital Group is an independent group with impressive knowledge and experience in the Italian market. It offers personalised investment advice and fund management services, from implementing innovative asset management solutions to establishing, structuring, and managing real estate, credit, and private equity funds. Quinta provides a distinctive combination of unique nuances and strengths that allow it to stand out among the asset management companies in Italy, finding value where traditional investors and operators fail. As such, throughQuinta, investors andpartners receive full coordination through the investment, asset management and divestment process from the firm’s experts, who can quickly identify the best strategies for maximising the value of assets. The team accomplishes this by remaining cognizant of the movements of the Italian market, and not just the sectors in which it is personally involved. This allows Quinta to aid institutional clients in implementing business plans and real estate strategies, provide expert consultancy in the acquisition, sale and evaluation of properties, and loans and craft structured solutions. This is all for selected investors who wish to invest in Italian properties or portfolios. Clients appreciate its diligence and commitment to providing solutions that present lasting value to investors through carefully managing the real estate assets, companies and businesses they have invested in. This mindfulness has ensured that Quinta has noticed that over the last few years, foreign investors have represented a significant pool of capital for the Italian market, representing over 70% of the volume transacted in the commercial market since 2016. Given this context, Quinta’s strategy – in addition to continuing the traditional investment activity of its existing funds – is focused on new projects and T 94 57 6 1 58 38 35 21 87 12 0 0
12 Acquisition International - M & A Awards 2022 Best Data Centre & Connectivity Acquisition (Europe): NorthC/Netrics ith a deep commitment to client, staff, and stakeholder alike, NorthC is quickly making itself a linchpin of its industry with its data and connectivity services, directly and indirectly via partners. Indeed, it operates both on a client-to-client basis and through its extensive partner network, making great use of connection and outreach to grow its business and to improve the communication status of the corporate landscape in the macro scale. Building new locations, creating selective new M&A opportunities, as well as taking a rigorous approach to accommodate inorganic growth within its field, it carefully assesses new investment opportunities to reliably offer chances to creative positive returns on investments. With data centers in general being a very hot market at present, it has seen trends come and go. Over the course of the past couple of years, such trends have included prevailing post-pandemic digitization increase on an international level, the rise of working from home, an increase in businesses going paperless, and so much more; by keeping abreast of these changes, it maintains its place at the head of the pack, and keeps its customers in the loop. Potential headwinds currently include high energy prices and public scrutiny, and it promises its clients that it will be continuing to keep track of these going forward. Critically, its people are at the heart of its operation in this way. From its diligent, dedicated, and talented employees – all of whom work hard to hold each other accountable and to grant each other the utmost respect – to its loyal clientele, it only hopes to benefit each of them through its work. With an local, open, flexible, and entrepreneurial mindset, its stalwart and focused attitude in the face of challenge has allowed it to continue to be an inspiring market leader, assessing investments with a level head and the experience of its staff, each of whom draw from an outstanding depth and breadth of knowledge. The entrepreneurial mindset shows itself in the sustainable initiatives NorthC is currently implementing. The company has the first European data center to run a carbon neutral backup based on fuel cells that are powered by green hydrogen. Furthermore, it helps to heat over 10,000 homes in Rotterdam in the largest residual heat project in the Netherlands to date. And for every new data center that is being build, W A sustainable and leading regional data center and connectivity provider that operates, manages, and owns data centres all over the Netherlands, Germany, and Switzerland, NorthC Datacenters (NorthC) offers its services to all manner of retail and enterprise customers. Currently with 16 centres in active operation – and with the creation of many more in the pipeline for the coming years – its aim is to further grow in its region, becoming a top 3 player in the data center market and connectivity. Aug22251 hydrogen and residual heat are in the blueprints. All new data centres are sustainable by design, in essence, establishing it as a pioneer in green corporate function as well as a darling of modern business; similarly, this is something it will see that it brings with it as it moves forward towards a brighter – and greener – future. Company: NorthC Contact: Maarten Goeman Website: northcdatacenters.com
Acquisition International - M & A Awards 2022 13 Best M&A Boutique 2022 - Australia Based in Sydney, SCD Advisory is an independent corporate and M&A advisory boutique. Founded in 2019, the company focuses on selling private People and IP-based businesses. SCD has developed a network of affiliate experts around the world giving the company a truly international reach. Oct22124 aluing a business for sale is a balancing act. Setting the right price to ensure the seller gets the best deal, whilst at the same time attracting the right buyer can be tricky to say the least. Although assessing the value of intangible assets is challenging, estimating the selling price of intellectual property and people’s knowhow realistically requires specific expertise. SCD Advisory provides end-to-end transaction advice and specialises in People and IP-based private mid-cap transactions. Operating in sectors such as management consulting, Software and IT services, media/marketing, design and engineering, SCD works with private businesses with revenues of $10 million and above seeking an exit strategy. Ensuring that a business is investor ready, SCD often provides its clients with help and advice in the months before going to market. The company also works with large groups and PE funds to identify and execute ‘buy’ deals. Pierre Briand is SCD’s Founder and Managing Partner. Pierre, whose background is in corporate finance, banking and wealth management, has 25 years of experience advising entrepreneurs. Having worked on many deals both in Australia and France, he has developed a reputation as a knowledgeable and trusted advisor. 3 core values drive SCD forward: trust, expertise and delivering outcomes. We ask Pierre to tell us about the challenges the company has faced recently: “The M&A markets are still in good condition, especially on the midcap segment. There are several reasons for this. Despite recent interest rates increase, there is still demand due to the post-COVID growth and the level of cash available. The sectors we work with are in demand and attractive to investors. In Australia we’re experiencing a shortage of talent due to reduced international mobility, recruiting the right people is challenging. Prioritising tasks and managing the expectations of clients and buyers has become more important than ever before.” Since its inception, SCD has facilitated over 25 major deals, selling businesses to Deloitte, DXC, Mercer, McKinsey, Nous, Capgemini, IBM, Alten, Rapid Circle or Cyient. Clients describe the team’s passion as contagious and its experience as invaluable. Pierre is actively involved with managing both his team and the company’s clients. He tells us: “In current conditions, drive, focus and V a lot of discipline are required to make a deal happen. Both parties need to know what they want. Our focus is to provide visibility for all stakeholders thereby gaining trust.” When asked which skills a successful M&A advisor needs, Pierre explains: “It takes time to accumulate the experience needed. The work is technical, but client and deal management requires an understanding of psychology too. Dealmakers need to have good listening skills and be empathetic. It’s important to learn how to manage stress and how to not take things personally too. You can’t consider yourself a winner or a loser based on the positive or negative outcome of a deal. The job could be binary: at the end of the day, a deal is either signed or it is not.” Looking to the future the company plans to continue making deals in the People and IP-based sectors in Australia. The aim, to be recognised as a leader in this niche. Continuing to expand the team is on the agenda too. You can find a host of glowing customer testimonials on SCD’s recently updated website. If you’re looking for an expert in IP-based M&A, why not pay it a visit? Contact: Pierre Briand Company: SCD Advisory Web Address: www.scdadvisory.com
14 Acquisition International - M & A Awards 2022 Oct22350 Best Eye Care Cross-Border Joint Venture Project: Project China SIFI is establishing a Joint Venture company, AffaMed Technologies, together with its Chinese partner AffaMed Therapeutics. It will focus on the Greater China market and allow the partnership to serve patients with its innovative solutions for cataract surgery. SIFI’s mission to improve people’s lives through innovation in eye care is now entering a new dimension given the size of China demographics as well as its growing adoption of premium medical care. ataracts are among the leading public health issues in China today, with the total prevalence estimated at over 100 million, but with only approximately 4 million cataract surgeries performed annually. As awareness and access to effective treatment options such as intraocular lenses’ (IOL) increases, the number of cataract surgeries in China is expected to grow by 8-10% per year, representing one of the highest growth rates globally. The JV will target the under-served premium market for patients seeking a high level of spectacle independence through its Extended-Depth-OfFocus (EDOF) IOLs based on the Mini Well® IOL technology and the WELL FUSION™ system, while it will also provide the highest quality mono-focal IOLs to help expand access to treatments for the wider population of patients. SIFI’s Project China and its resulting Joint Venture agreement represent a significant milestone in its international expansion program, as it is striving to forge strategic alliances globally on innovative technologies in key therapeutic areas. The creation of the JV will maximize the value of one of its key assets, SIFI’s proprietary IOL technology, leveraging on the firm’s capabilities and global market potential. Under the terms of the agreement, AffaMed Therapeutics will provide funding for growth, and support the JV in clinical development, regulatory affairs and commercial operations, while SIFI will contribute its IP, technical and manufacturing expertise, as explained by Fabrizio Chines, SIFI Chairman and CEO, and Andrea Quaglino, SIFI CFO. The Business Development team conducted Project China from preliminary market research and partner prospection up to the deal signing, with the leadership of Axel Richard, CFA, consultant to SIFI for Project China, as well as the Shanghai-based broker, YAFO Capital. “The complementarity of skills and expertise, from everyone involved either internally or externally, was the key to find the right strategic balance and to drive Project China to success” as presented by Maria Grazia Mazzone, Executive Director of Business Development & Open Innovation at SIFI. Project China is one part of a broader expansion program run by the firm. In the last few years and since 2015 (when 21 Invest, a private equity firmfoundedbyAlessandroBenetton, entered theshareholding), SIFI has undergone a virtuous growth of its business, evolving into an industrial group of companies, consolidating domestic leadership in Italy, and expanding into international markets. As a matter of fact, in July 2019 in France, SIFI concluded its first M&A operation since its foundation with the acquisition of two leading ophthalmic antiseptic brands from Laboratoire Gifrer Barbezat, Dacudoses® and Novoptine®, with the objective to accelerate penetration into France, one of the largest and most competitive markets in Western Europe. C SIFI now exports products to more than 20 countries worldwide with direct commercial operations in Italy, Spain, France, Romania, Mexico and Turkey. Looking ahead in terms of projects, SIFI is currently conducting development programs of innovative drugs including for orphan diseases such as acanthamoeba keratitis and fungal infections (AKANTIOR® recently completed its Phase 3 Trial), as well as for a dry eye disease through a molecule carrying a new mode of action and administration route. The pipeline development of SIFI is balanced between pharmaceutical and surgical projects, with a recently new focus on digital therapeutics. Making a deal amid COVID-related challenges The COVID-19 pandemic and its contingent mobility restrictions may have been perceived as a major hurdle on the road of SIFI to reach a deal in China. In 2020, numerous firms recentred their strategy on their core portfolio and competencies to mitigate risks through the uncertainty of the pandemic. However, “this situation allowed for our potential Chinese partners to strengthen their convictions, either in reinforcing their interest in SIFI’s products for China, or in pursuing other plans. In spite of a challenging global environment and travel restrictions, our mutual interests were found significantly reinforced” as commented by Axel Richard, paving the way for the JV agreement with AffaMed Therapeutics in March 2021. Picture, from left to right: Maria Grazia Mazzone, Salvatore Sciuto (Senior Manager, Medical Devices and Healthcare Regulatory Affairs), Andrea Quaglino, Fabrizio Chines, Maria Cristina Curatolo (Innovation and Medical Science Director), Axel Richard, Francesco Giuliano (Senior Manager, BD & Alliance Management). SIFI is a leading ophthalmic company, headquartered in Italy, focusing on eye care since 1935. SIFI develops, manufactures and markets innovative therapeutic solutions for patients with ophthalmic diseases across 20 countries worldwide. Website: sifigroup.com
Acquisition International - M & A Awards 2022 15 Best Technology M&A & Business Advisory Service 2022 Technology mergers and acquisitions company, WTA Partners (WTA) works with clients on both the ‘buy’ and ‘sell’ sides of M&A. The team, which also provides business advisory services including exit planning, is made up of IT professionals, all of whom have first-hand experience in building, running and exiting technology companies. We take a look at M&A in the technology sector with WTA founder, Jeffrey Jenner and partner, Alan Butterworth. Oct22430 efore founding WTAPartners, Jeffrey Jenner had worked in the IT sector for over forty years, and Alan Butterworth was a highly experienced management professional in IT and technology. Unsurprisingly, the pair, and WTA, have built a stellar reputation for their knowledge and effectiveness in the mid-market technology space. We ask Jeffrey to tell us more about WTA’s current focus: “We provide M&A services that are targeted solely on the IT sector. We cover software and SaaS, consulting services, and cloud-managed services propositions. On the sell-side, our clients are mainly ownermanaged businesses, typically with an enterprise value of £5-30 million. On the buy-side, our clients include PE-backed trade buyers, AIM-listed and overseas businesses who want to acquire UK and European businesses with an enterprise value of up to £100 million.” Being a team of dedicated IT professionals, rather than from other business backgrounds, enables WTA to identify a strategic market fit for each business with ease. Understanding the mechanics of the industry, WTA emphasises the value proposition to potential acquirers. Thorough knowledge of the sector is non-negotiable for any new recruits to the company. Jeffrey explains, “One of our great strengths is our deep knowledge of the sector. We avoid employing inexperienced people. Our clients should not have to spend time educating team members on the intricacies of the business.” This is part of WTA’s drive to deliver outstanding client service every time. A thorough understanding of every client’s requirements is vital B to allow the company to only take on mandates it believes will lead to successful outcomes for its clients. Alan says, “We want every client to be a great reference for the business. That entails not only working effectively but being honest and transparent and providing the best, unbiased advice.” Currently, WTA works in core market sectors such as local and central government, health and social care, and public safety and education. It has also developed a presence in the transport and ‘smart cities’ sectors, and, so far, a particular expertise in enterprise software, SaaS, cloud technology, and managed services. We ask Alan to share his thoughts on the current M&A landscape. He tells us, “It’s a time of great uncertainty in the sector. Global and national circumstances are changing and this is concurrent with a weakening of IT company valuations. We’re seeing rising interest rates, high inflation, tightening debt markets, and a rapid fall of publicly-quoted listed technology companies, particularly on the NASDAQ. But it’s not all bad news - the inflow of funds to private equity continues to rise, and that capital needs to be deployed.” For WTA, at least, progress appears to be steady. 18 months ago, the company opened a new office in North America led by a past client of the company, Nick Nardi. The venture has proven successful and, in part, led to WTA recruiting its first ever communications manager to publicise WTA’s many recent success stories and to more effectively engage with the market. Looking to the future, WTA will be working on a continued expansion of its UK team to add new specialisms and expertise. Further expansion into the North American market is anticipated too. Contact: Jeffrey Jenner, Alan Butterworth and Nick Nardi Company: WTA Partners Web Address: https://www.wtallp.com/ Nick Nardi Jeffrey Jenner Alan Butterworth
16 Acquisition International - M & A Awards 2022 Best Cyber Security Acquisition (UK): SysGroup PLC/ Truststream Security Solutions iverpool company, SysGroup PLC, has been providing its managed IT services to businesses since 2007. With satellite offices in Bristol, London, Manchester, Newport, and now Edinburgh, the company employs around 120 members of staff and serves over 700 customers. SysGroup is the partner of choice for many successful organisations, from SMEs to global enterprises, in both the public and private sectors. It proclaims its ‘sweet spot’ to be medium-sized enterprises with between 50 and 500 employees, often in the financial services and retail sectors. The company attributes its success and rapid growth to its commitment to reputational excellence. Jason tells us, “Our customer service is our bedrock. We always say that we are not too small to make a difference, and not too big to care. Our teams are laser-focused on the individual needs of our customers. And our consistent customer satisfaction rating sits around 97%.” One of SysGroup’s flagship services is SysCloud. A credible alternative to solutions such as Microsoft Azure, AWS, and G-Cloud, SysCloud can help customers reduce overheads whilst speeding up productivity. The cloud solution also improves overall IT security, helps lower capital expenditure, and can even reduce clients’ carbon footprints. It’s competitively priced, too! We ask Jason what makes SysGroup stand out from its competitors. He explains, “We’re helping businesses to access enterprise-grade IT services and solutions. Historically, these tools were only available to multi-national organisations. This enables smaller businesses to be safe and productive in a time when dangers from sophisticated hackers are ever-present.” The company views its reputation as a trusted and established brand to be its greatest achievement to date. Jason tells us, “Customer satisfaction and winning business through word of mouth both serve to highlight the hard work and dedication of our people. Becoming a trusted brand has to come from within. We’ve always been mindful not to obscure the reasons for bringing us together. Our customers enjoy partnering with us and feel that our acquisitions have benefited them too.” L Leading managed IT service and cloud hosting provider, SysGroup branched out into the cybersecurity space this year when the company acquired Edinburgh-based firm Truststream Security Solutions. We take a look at SysGroup and its latest acquisition in detail with its Head of Marketing, Jason Davis-D’Cruz. Contact: Jason Davis-D’Cruz (Head of Marketing) Company: SysGroup PLC Web Address: www.sysgroup.com Oct22365 As part of its ongoing growth strategy, SysGroup has acquired several specialist providers in the IT space. The companies were selected for their complementary skills and understanding of the local business landscape. SysGroup’s most recent acquisition, Truststream will further enhance its service offering to include services such as threat analysis, detection, and incident response. The company’s recent investments into systems and infrastructure will enable Truststream’s services to be integrated into its overall offering with speed and agility. SysGroup CEO, Adam Binks, commented at the time of the acquisition, “The addition of Truststream to the Group further supports our stated strategy to become the leading provider of managed IT services to the UK mid-market. The business strongly complements our existing portfolio of services and has high levels of recurring revenue.” SysGroup holds a range of strategic partnerships with leading technology vendors including Dell Gold, WatchGuard Platinum, Veeam Gold, Microsoft Gold Datacentre, HPE Silver, VMWare, Mimecast, and Zerto. For further information, please visit the company website.www.acquisition-international.com