Business pulse: Private equity firms are hungry for quality companies

In a market hungry for deal flow, high-quality companies are in demand and valuation multiples are rising. Private equity firms continue to be active bidders at the table with the middle market being fertile ground for buying activity.

GF Data, which reports on private equity transaction activity in the lower middle market (deal values between $10 and $250 million), recently cited valuation statistics from 2012 that point to a market premium paid for quality, size and desirable industry, which, when combined, the sum of the parts can achieve a multiple of EBITDA in excess of eight times for a well-performing business, according to Private Equity Professional Digest.

PitchBook, another reporting firm focused exclusively on the private equity market, cited that more than a third of deals in 2012 had an EBITDA multiple of seven and a half times or greater, lending further support to healthy valuations in the marketplace.

With nearly $100 billion (private equity funds of $100 to $1 billion according to PitchBook) in uninvested equity capital, motivated sellers with companies that possess strong management, have shown solid performance and are in attractive industries can feel confident that the private equity radar is up for those businesses. With ample debt financing today, sponsors are open to a myriad of strategic options — from a dividend recapitalization to a partial or outright sale — for quality companies.

Local private equity firms were active in March. Linsalata Capital Partners completed its first acquisition of 2013 with Signature Systems Group, a New York-based manufacturer of specialty ground surfaces and coverings selling to more than 3,000 domestic and international customers. Signature’s founder and CEO reinvested alongside LinCap in the transaction. Financial sponsor Dubin Clark & Co. exited its investment in the sale. The sponsor completed two add-on acquisitions after purchasing the company in 2007.

Resilience Capital Partners acquired a majority interest in Memphis-based Aerospace Products International, a global aviation parts and equipment distribution and supply chain management firm. Its parent company, First Aviation Services, retained a minority equity interest in the company. The Cleveland sponsor completed five deals in 2012, including CR Brands, a manufacturer of branded and private label laundry and household cleaning products based in West Chester, Ohio, acquired from Juggernaut Capital Partners. ●

Andrew Petryk is managing director and principal of Brown Gibbons Lang & Co. LLC, an investment bank serving the middle market. Contact him at (216) 920-6613 or [email protected]

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