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Mergers, Acquisitions and the Evolution of IT Managed Services
Jonathan Simnett, Director, Hampleton Partners
But the surest way to measure real change and spot emerging technological trends in these areas is to track the mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity that is taking place within the sector.
As technology such as big data analytics, cloud computing and internet of things continue to infiltrate IT and managed services, a wave of consolidation is being driven by companies of all hues seeking to stay ahead of the curve.
Overall, in the second half of 2018, acquirers included incumbent tech companies pursuing transformation and consolidation opportunities, conglomerates seeking growth through investment and smaller firms looking to expand their geographic reach in response to political and economic turmoil.
Software outsourcing companies, digital marketing firms and companies offering cloud and SaaS solutions have proven particularly popular with strategic buyers, public sector-serving firms and private equity investors over the last few years.
So, what has been happening in three subsectors of IT and managed services - integration services, IT outsourced services and tech services and support - across the second half of 2018?
Total transaction volume in the Integration Services segment remained steady, with trailing 30-month multiple lingering around 0.9 x EV/S (Enterprise value divided by sales valuation metric) and just under10 x EV/EBITDA (Enterprise value divided by earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation valuation metric), with little to no difference compared to previous periods.
Nevertheless, integration services proved particularly popular with public sector organisations and providers to government agencies and, in the segments largest disclosed deal, Japanese systems software corporation NEC acquired Denmark based KMD, a provider of IT outsourcing and software development, systems and security integration for government and social services agencies, for $1.22 billion.
Meanwhile, NXOF Intermediate Holdings acquired Black Box Corporation, a federal government business, which provides network and security systems design, as well as integration services, for businesses and government agencies globally.
Transaction volume in the Tech Services Support segment continued to increase in the second half of 2018, representing 42 per cent of all deals finalised in the period
In October, Maximus, a company that supports government agencies across the world with large scale IT systems, acquired the citizen engagement centres assets of General Dynamics Information Technology, strengthening its position as an administrator of government programmes. And, recently, in 2019, we’ve seen the combination of General Dynamics and Raytheon, the latter with its considerable managed IT security services capabilities.
North America leads the pack in integration acquisitions. As the demand for cloud consulting and integration services grows, companies are consolidating to both build expertise and expand their global reach. In this area, European markets remain a key target for both European and North American firms and so Europe (excluding the UK) remains the most targeted region for acquirers.
IT Outsourced Services
After a strong performance in the first half of 2018, the IT outsourced services segment continued to attract interest in the second half of the year. Transaction volume totalled around one-third of all IT Business Services deals, with a total disclosed deal value amounting to $11.6billion.
Transaction multiples continued their steady rise, rising up to 13 x EV/S from a low of 11 x EV/Sin the second half of 2016 and to 9.1 x EV/EBITDA from a low of8.7 x EV/EBITDA in the second half of 2016, suggesting that demand for digital outsourcing has remained strong.
Private equity groups further upped their stakes in the segment, as illustrated by The Carlyle Group’s $6.7 billion purchase of Sedgwick Claims Management. This was complemented by other investments, such as Blackstone's majority stake acquisition in LA customer experience outsourcing firm, TaskUs for an estimated $525 million.
In November, came NTT Data’s majority acquisition of Atom Technologies, a provider of outsourced online transaction processing services and SaaS for businesses in India. Earlier in the same month, DXC Technology, an independent, end-to-end IT services company, announced the acquisition of Argodesign a Texas-based provider of technology consulting, outsourcing and support services. Argodesign’s services extend to infrastructure, applications and business process domains, including strategic enterprise service offerings of cloud, security, analytics, and data management.
Finally, IT outsourcing companies are also being purchased as a way for companies to diversify and expand their reach, as illustrated by video conferencing firm Glowpoint’s merger with SharedLABS, a software solutions company. The decision will allow each company to reach broader market opportunities and scale more efficiently.
Tech Services and Support
Transaction volume in the Tech Services Support segment continued to increase in the second half of 2018, representing 42 per cent of all deals finalised in the period. Transaction multiples remained steady at10x EV/S, in the range of previous multiples, and continued their long-term increase at 11.7xEV/ EBITDA up from 9.6x in 2 H 2016.
Amongst the highest deals in this subsector was European IT services firm Atos’s $3.4 billion purchase of Syntel, an American provider of generalised IT services such as IT operations management, legacy systems modernisation, customer experience, analytics and IoT digital marketing high on the agenda.
I started this article by saying the predicting the future is a notoriously difficult thing to do. However, as new waves of technological change break over the IT and managed services businesses, the evidence points, in the short term at least, to the continued acquisition of new technologies and service models as M&A continues to be the new R&D.