Mid-market advisory firm Clearwater International completed a record breaking 106 deals worth over €9 billion in 2016 – a deal value increase of over 120% from 2015; average deal values also nearly doubled during the period.
In a year where the business completed mergers with firms in both France and Germany, all territories, sectors and service lines experienced exceptional levels of M&A activity.
For the third year running, the Industrials & Chemicals team was the most active in deal completions including the merger of X-label with RAKO and Baumgaten – a cross border deal which created the largest global labels business, a fundraising and acquisition advisory role for FM Conway, and advising Taziker Industrials on an IBO, backed by Bregal Freshstream. The keynote industrials deal of the year came in technical services with the sale of automation specialist MacDonald Humfrey to US firm L-3 Communications for €300m.
2016 also saw a large number of deals with private equity (PE) involvement; some notable transactions included: leading affordable housing provider Westleigh receiving capital growth investment from Palatine Private Equity, MCH Private Equity’s acquisition of a shareholding in Grupo Brasmar, the sale of B&B Hotels from Carlyle to PAI and advising the management of Funeral Service Partners on their secondary buyout.
Clearwater International continued to release quarterly updates to its Multiple Heatmap research, in association with unquote”. This bespoke analysis of the multiples being paid by PE for businesses across Europe has led to the Clearwater team increasingly supporting PE on their investment decisions. With deployment of investment still high in the minds of PE, 2017 looks to be another great year for PE acquisition activity.
The business saw further strong levels of activity from its debt advisory practice, which increased the number of deals structured with debt. As we predicted in early 2016, there has continued to be a shift in the debt finance market towards alternative lenders, with this being particularly pronounced in sponsored deals. These alternative lenders are looking further afield outside London and into Europe as they strive for improved returns through lower competition and leverage multiples.
Clearwater International’s deal levels were matched by activity to extend the business, including the aforementioned mergers with a French and German firms. Significant gains have been made in sector depth with Clearwater’s cross border sector teams in Automotive, Energy and Utilities and Real Estate led by partners from Germany and France.
All this progress has not gone unnoticed with the team winning multiple awards including Insider’s Deal team of the year. Additionally the high volumes of quality deals also saw Clearwater enter the Thomson Reuters ranking table top 20 for the first time.
Michael Reeves, CEO of Clearwater International, said: “2016 has been another tremendous year for Clearwater International and our clients, with our deal values increasing 120% in the last year. With extended sector coverage and more team members across Europe and Asia than ever before we look forward to increasing opportunities for our clients in 2017.“