Tag: mergers and acquisitions

What Is Your Post-COVID-19 M&A Strategy | Blog

The International Monetary Fund has recently confirmed what most of us already know – we have entered a recession. Given the evolving COVID-19 situation, in the short-term, organizations are doing their best just to implement business continuity plans and keep the lights on. At this point, they simply don’t have the bandwidth to take a forward-looking view.

However, now – or at least very soon – maybe the best time to be bold – to consider the opportunity to slingshot through and out of the recession with a strong M&A strategy.

Increasing acquisition activity

As part of our technology research over the past few years, we’ve analyzed innovative firms (which we call Trailblazers) to identify high potential start-ups based on their growth stories, innovation, and the impact they have created in the market.

More recently, we’ve seen an uptick in M&A activity across the IT services market as organizations have sought exponential inorganic growth to expand their geographic footprints and/or fill gaps across their services portfolios. (See the exhibit below.)

timeline of acquisitions of high potential start ups presented by everest group 1

How we expect the recession to impact this activity

Although this has been an acquisition-rich industry in recent years, everything is completely different now – the post COVID-19 market is clearly headed straight into recession, or worse. If previous recessions are any indication, M&A activity is likely to take a hit. While we believe M&A activity in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic will be subdued, we also believe there will be some interesting opportunities for those willing to invest some thinking and strategizing.

Is now the right time for you to consider M&As?

As the world adjusts to the next normal following the pandemic, some specific technologies/tools are likely to see a surge in adoption, including cloud, collaboration and CX, network and security, IoT and edge, to name a few. These technologies will play an important role in ensuring business resiliency and serving a distributed and remote workforce.

Within this context, a well-planned acquisition strategy can enable competitive advantage for those organizations willing – and able – to take a bold approach. We believe this segment-specific activity will be further fueled by:

  • Lower valuations: Most start-ups take a relationship-based selling approach, with about 80% of their revenue coming from a few high-value, large clients or markets. As the recession deepens, start-ups that are highly dependent on a few clients and markets will struggle to survive, lowering their valuation and increasing their propensity to be acquired. The lower cost of capital and the impact of the financial stimulus are also going to provide acquirers an impetus to re-examine their M&A playbooks. One such example is Magic Leap, which is looking at opportunities to be acquired as the hardware sector faces threats from the COVID-19 crisis, the impending recession, and the trade war between the US and China. Cash-rich organizations (PE/VC firms, service providers, and BigTech companies) are already looking at leveraging their balance sheets amidst this downturn
  • An opportunity to fill portfolio gaps: As growth across IT services is expected to soften for the foreseeable future, now may be the time – and the price may be right – for organizations to augment their capabilities, expand their addressable market, and increase their top line

We are already seeing interest from acquiring firms focused on cloud services (AWS, Azure, GCP), enterprise platform adoption (capabilities in ServiceNow and Salesforce), network services, and security, to name a few. As we approach the fallout from the pandemic, a range of investors will be eyeing the technology sector for M&A opportunities, and we believe there will be a lot of activity. Picking the right segment bets and timing these initiatives will be crucial.

What is your post-COVID-19 M&A Strategy? Please write to us at [email protected] and [email protected].

Indian IT Stares at Major Shake-Up | In the News

The Indian tech industry is headed to a big shakeout with a couple of major mergers and acquisitions expected in 18-36 months. It could mean tier 2, 3, 4 or 5 firms exploring merger with peer or giving in to M&A invitations from external player.

Thus the leader board of Indian IT may look different in the near future as the next couple of years will flesh out a new set of league players in the business, say global analysts who track the space.

Few M&As are likely as domestic tech players are constantly forced to evaluate the size and scale needed to compete in new markets and in new technologies. The dual forces of industry consolidation and new emerging digital market will end status quo and remake the industry. Thus, the entire pecking order of IT Indian may change, they say.

According to Peter Bendor-Samuel, CEO of US-based Everest Group, clear signs of consolidation are discernible in the global markets. The latest example of it is Atos acquisition of Syntel.

Read more in mydigitalfc.com

Ascender’s Acquisition of NGA’s ANZ Business: Consolidation in a Maturing Market | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

On 31 January 2017, Australia-based Ascender and NGA Human Resources announced that Ascender had acquired NGA’s Australia and New Zealand business. Part of the agreement is a partnership between the two companies to deliver payroll and HR services solutions for the ANZ region, ensuring a seamless solution for NGA HR’s global payroll and HR clients. The deal makes Ascender one of the largest HR and Payroll providers in the ANZ and APAC region.

What are the implications of the deal?

For NGA:

  • Global deals with ANZ components will continue unaffected, as Ascender will serve as a partner provider in the region with no disruption to existing operations
  • NGA will aim to use a partnership-based approach for multi-country deals originating in the ANZ region. It will no longer be active in the single country payroll market in ANZ.

For Ascender:

  • Its single country capability and reach in the ANZ region will get a boost with the addition of NGA’s services delivery and technology capabilities, specifically the Preceda and PS Enterprise HCM platforms
  • It will have access to a new set of clients in ANZ, with an opportunity to sell into other regions of APAC through the newly acquired client portfolio. This could potentially increase its multi country payroll outsourcing (MCPO) market penetration in the APAC region.

Of course, as with any deal of this type, there are numerous things those in the region should watch out for.

First, NGA and Ascender will be looking to forge a partnership in a way that is beneficial to both parties beyond the immediate operational need. The scope and extent of this new partnership will evolve and take shape as the dust settles. It remains to be seen what form it will take, especially in light of Ascender’s recent entry into the Europe-based Payroll Services Alliance, wherein eight major payroll service companies have bundled their services into a unified offering that consists of strong local expertise and services, supplemented by coordination and integration at an international level.

As far as technology is concerned, with NGA’s PS Enterprise and Preceda HCM platforms coming into Ascender’s fold as part of the acquisition, Ascender will likely seek to integrate the different system capabilities under one brand over time. As with a lot of private equity-backed acquisitions, since the focus will be on improving margins, we are likely to see more investment in consolidating and improving technology, driving automation, and increasing self-service functionality.

Although the APAC market continues to experience relatively high growth rates – 7-9% in single country payroll outsourcing and 23-25% in MCPO – the region is fairly complex, and each country requires a distinct strategy to ensure sustainable growth. For instance, while India requires a heavily price-sensitive services sales approach, a technology-driven approach works better in Australia.

With the APAC region requiring a great deal of management attention and local presence to drive continued success, global providers’ APAC arms tend to be private equity acquisition targets. Indeed, while Western economy-based global players don’t necessarily have the focus to negotiate the uniqueness of the APAC region’s HR services and payroll requirements, private equity can certainly help bring that focus to the table. For example, Ascender is backed by a private equity-led consortium, and just two years ago, private equity firm Everstone Capital bought out Aon Hewitt’s APAC business, (renamed Excelity Global).

While not all will be private equity-driven, we do anticipate more acquisitions and consolidation in this space in the APAC region as the market matures, particularly in geographic markets that are fragmented, with no clear leader in sight.

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