IT Services Insight; considerable M&A activity

There has been considerable M&A activity in the IT services sector over the last 5 years. Key buyers in the industry are the big IT services companies such as Accenture, CGI Group, Capgemini, KPMG and Atos. Private Equity is also showing more activity in the market, indicating future consolidation and strong expected growth. A selection of Private Equity players active in the Dutch IT services market are: Waterland (Ad Ultima Group), Holland Capital (Wortell), Egeria (Ilionx) and The Carlyle Group (HSO). These Private Equity companies are pursuing a Buy & Build strategy within a specific Internet Technology stack (such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 & Azure).

Most of the target companies (2014 – 2019) acquired are headquartered in the US and Europe
With an average of almost 800 transactions per year in the last 5 years the sector is very active, the absolute peak took place in 2018 (932 transactions worldwide). In the last five years 1,899 targets headquartered in Europe where acquired, a significant number of these transactions involved a target headquartered in The Netherlands and neighboring countries.

The US is the global market leader when it comes to buying IT services companies (1,835 transactions where the buyer was headquartered in the US), followed by the UK (466 transactions), France (312), Japan (269) and Germany (191). The Netherlands as a buyer is on the tenth place with 98 transactions.

High (EBITDA) multiples are paid for large companies
As can be seen in the figure below EBITDA multiples are remarkably high for companies with significant size (> € 100m enterprise value). A noticeable transaction in the last years was the acquisition of Luxoft (CH) which provides digital transformation services by IT services company DMX Technology Company (USA) for almost $ 2bn (EBITDA multiple of 20.7!)

Domestic transactions are dominant in Europe
The majority of the deals in the European landscape are domestic. However, what can be noticed is that the UK (82%) and France (89%) have significantly more domestic transactions than other countries in Europe. Besides strategic buyers, an accelerated M&A activity can be noticed from Private Equity.

* Analysis is based on Capitalmind’s proprietary database, covering over 5,500 IT services transactions from 2014 till 2019. No representation or warranty, express or implied, is made as to the accuracy, reasonableness or completeness of the database.

Ron Belt
Ron Belt
Managing Partner
Benelux

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