Mid-market advisory firm Clearwater International completed deals with an average value of over €90m during 2017, illustrating the ambitious trajectory the business continues to follow; all territories, sectors and service lines experienced exceptional levels of activity.
For the fourth year running, the Industrials and Chemicals team was the most active in deal completions including the UK team advising LDC on the €100m sale of Mini-Cam to Halma plc and advising the shareholders of SELIT Dämmtechnik GmbH and SELIT-TEC Dämmsysteme GmbH (SELIT) on the formation of a strategic alliance with NMC, in a deal led by the German team. The keynote deal of the year came in the Energy and Utilities sector when Clearwater advised the shareholders of leading engineering services company Imtech, including private equity firm Endless LLP, on the sale of the business to EDF Energy Services.
2017 also saw the number of deals completed with private equity (PE) increase, the team worked on some 50 deals involving over 50 different PE firms; some notable transactions included: the UK team advising private equity firm Equistone Partners Europe on acquiring a majority stake in marketing services provider Inspired Thinking Group (ITG) from Bridgepoint Development Capital, acting for Irish IT services firm Version 1 and Volpi Capital on the management buy-out of one of Western Europe’s fastest growing IT services companies and Bridgepoint Development Capital’s acquisition of a majority stake in Group CIR and Urban Premium advised by the team in Paris.
Clearwater continued to release quarterly updates to its Multiples Heatmap research, in association with unquote”. For the first time since the initiation of the coverage of PE multiples, the research showed double digit multiples have been paid in each of the last six quarters. 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, 2018 looks to be another great year for PE acquisition activity.
The business saw a rise in transactions involving debt advisory, with nearly a third of deals being supported by the debt team. The team also continued to grow with the addition of six new members across the international business demonstrating the growing importance of debt advisory within the market, as the funding universe continues to become more diversified. Clearwater recently advised Seabrook Crisps Ltd, backed by private equity firm LDC, on its refinance with funding provided by Apera Capital.
Clearwater’s success was reflected in its recruitment activity across Europe and China, including new partners in France, Germany and the UK and the addition of a Head of Learning and Development, Liz Knight, who will help the business build upon its current talent development strategy, including an international training curriculum.
All this progress did not go unnoticed with the team winning multiple awards including Insider’s Deal of the Year, Team of the Year, and Dealmakers of the Year awards in multiple UK regions. This was alongside the German team winning Best of Consulting award and a shortlisting for Team of the Year in Denmark. Additionally Clearwater rose to enter the top 15 in both Thomson Reuters and MergerMarket’s ranking tables.
Michael Reeves, CEO, Clearwater International, said: “Our focus on building long standing relationships and providing expert knowledge to our clients has continued throughout 2017. With an international team committed to supporting clients’ ambitions we have grown our business accordingly – be that deepening sector knowledge via partner recruitment, strengthening our partnerships in the US, or formalising our graduate recruitment programme. We start 2018 reflecting on the unpredictably of the last 12 months, but confident in our ability to help support our clients and connect them with exciting opportunities.”