News From The Middle

Q4 2018

With all of this talk of tuck-ins, you’d think that private equity pros across the middle market were obsessive bed-makers. In the past two years, private equity firms have taken advantage of a period of elevated valuations to harvest investments made following the financial crisis of 2008-2009, selling companies at a faster rate than they are buying. Of course, many of these sales are to other financial sponsors. To justify the investment case for rich multiples for platform investments (currently 0.5x-0.7x more than non-platform buyouts), sponsors plan to pursue bolt-on acquisitions of smaller firms to “average down” the purchase price over time. Valuations of smaller firms are materially lower and less volatile. Indeed, buy-and-build has become a dominant strategy across middle market private equity.