I may have spent a good chunk of the week at a conference, but the deal announcements have ticked along nicely all week. The tech sector was especially busy, with Audax-backed BlueCat Networks adding on a provider of network management services, Aquiline Capital Partners investing in a savings and investments platform and Verdane’s portfolio company Papirfly picking up a digital asset management company.
We also have a report on European M&A activity to dive into, courtesy of the investment bank DC Advisory.
Of mice and cats
BlueCat Networks, a portfolio company of Audax Private Equity, acquired Men&Mice, a provider of network management services.
Kopavogur, Iceland-based Men&Mice’s IP address management (IPAM) and orchestration solution, Micetro, will strengthen BlueCat’s market position and further extends BlueCat’s mid-market offerings, according to a release.
Audax Private Equity acquired BlueCat from Madison Dearborn Partners in 2022.
“BlueCat is the right step for the continued growth of Men&Mice and the acquisition recognises the impact of the employees who helped build and support Micetro and the customers who invested in it,” said Magnus Bjornsson, CEO, Men&Mice.
Next up we have a report on European M&A appetite. DC Advisory, an international investment bank, released its latest European Mid Market Monitor for Q1 2023. I wanted to share some points that stood out to me.
For the UK, debt markets remain tough, according to the report. “We see sponsors opting to avoid megadeals in favour of smaller deals and bolt-on acquisitions, where debt solutions may be more attainable,” said Andrew Strudwick, a managing director and Tara Stowe, a director at DC Advisory.
PE buyers are being more cautious, and they require more data and time to comprehensively diligence potential deals, the report said. DC Advisory has noted comms, IT services, infra services and business information as some of the most active sectors in the UK over the past quarter.
In France, high energy prices and rising inflation have led to a slowdown, which the French government is attempting to tackle with initiatives to support business growth. Consumer, leisure and retail sectors are especially struggling in the region according to the report, while healthcare, social, fibre and technology infrastructure continue to grow.
Further south, the report noted that Spain is an attractive region for foreign investors due to its steady economic growth. The Spanish government has set a target to achieve 74 percent renewable electricity by 2030, leading the country’s renewables sector to offer investment opportunities. Investors have also remained active in sectors resilient to economic uncertainty and protected by government policies, the reports said. These include infrastructure and technology, media, and telecom (TMT).
Italian M&A activity in Q1 has been driven by consumer, leisure, retail and healthcare sectors. Buyers are especially interested in ESG-related topics that provide a sustainable competitive advantage in the long-term, the report said. The report also noted an increasing number of carve-outs and portfolio clean-up activity, particularly selling assets that are not generating value. DC Advisory expects M&A activity in Italy to pick up in sectors of aerospace, defence and government services later in 2023, driven by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine.
Let’s go back to the tech deals. Aquiline Capital Partners invested in Smart, a global savings and investments technology platform provider.
London-headquartered Smart has over £5.5 billion (€6.3 billion; $6.85 billion) in assets and is expected to exceed £10 billion by the end of June following this funding round.
The total amount invested is $95 million and Aquiline is the lead investor. The existing investors who participated in the round include Chrysalis Investments, Fidelity International Strategic Ventures, DWS, Barclays and Natixis Investment Managers.
“Smart’s distinct retirement technology leadership coupled with Aquiline’s deep experience in the retirement technology industry makes this a compelling investment, as does the growing global need for better retirement saving technology,” said Jeff Greenberg, chairman and CEO of Aquiline.
This investment will bolster Smart’s global expansion plans, according to a release.
The proceeds from the funding round will also help finance near-term acquisitions and accelerate Smart’s investment in and distribution of its proprietary retirement savings technology platform, Keystone, the release added.
Papirfly Group, backed by Verdane, acquired Keepeek, a digital asset management (DAM) company.
Keepeek is headquartered in Paris, France. The company offers a platform for marketing and communication teams to organise, manage and distribute their multimedia content.
The acquisition of Keepeek was financed by Papirfly using fresh equity from Verdane, according to a source close to the matter.
Verdane acquired a majority stake in Papirfly in January 2022 via Verdane Edda II fund.
“With Verdane’s backing, Papirfly will cement market leadership through further acquisitions in key European geographies,” said Joakim Kjemperud, principal at Verdane. “Paired with the company’s impressive organic growth, this ambitious strategy will put Papirfly on track to become Europe’s go-to brand management platform.”