Plant engineering, manufacturing M&A: April 2023
The Bundy Group reported nine automation transactions in the month of April. Analysis on the acquisitions and reports are highlighted below.
Bundy Group, an investment bank and advisory firm, provides an update on mergers & acquisitions and capital placement activity for companies that address the manufacturing and plant management fields.
Highlights in recent system integrator acquisition
Bundy Group recently represented Bob Zeigenfuse in a sale of Avanceon to Vinci Energies. Founded in 1984, Avanceon is an automation solutions and systems integration firm that works with clients across a variety of end-markets, including infrastructure, food & beverage, pharma, data centers and chemicals. Zeigenfuse was a long-time relationship of Bundy Group’s, and he retained our firm to market the business to a pool of quality buyers that have a seasoned acquisition track record in the automation sector. Vinci Energies submitted a preemptive offer worthy of our client pausing marketing efforts and moving forward with this strategic buyer.
Zeigenfuse offered insights related to the sale of Avanceon highlighted below.
Bundy Group: As your investment banking advisor, I know that you had a lot of buyer options to consider. Why did you select VINCI Energies as the buyer for your firm?
Bob Zeigenfuse: There are certainly a lot of great buyer options out there! My foremost consideration was my beloved associates at Avanceon. The key criteria I had for my associates in a transaction included:
Cultural fit: I needed to envision my executives and associates enjoying and thriving under a new owner’s structure. I really liked Vinci’s management style, which focuses on operations running autonomously and retaining Avanceon’s culture. Through the Control System Integrators Association (CSIA), I had seen plenty of examples of roll-up strategies that had struggled and failed because the buyers didn’t commit to these fundamentals.
Stability: Vinci Energies is a $50 billion international corporation, with a strong financial backbone, which will allow our team to continue to grow the Avanceon platform.
Opportunities: Vinci Energies offers my team members new career growth opportunities, stock option plans, and access to an international network of employees and clients.
My needs were straightforward:
Receiving an attractive valuation and deal structure.
Selecting a strategic buyer platform focused on building an organization to last forever. I wasn’t interested in a short-, medium- or long-term flipper.
Working with a buyer that was transparent, professional, and compassionate from beginning to end.
At the conclusion of the transaction, I can say with confidence that Vinci Energies fulfilled all of my above expectations.
Bundy Group: What advice would you give owners in the Automation market as they contemplate how to build value in their business?
Bob Zeigenfuse: Build value that buyers want! There are several key components that make up this business value:
- Focus on repeatable financial performance with solid clients in desirable markets. If you build repeat business with strong Accounts Receivable collections, then it proves to a buyer that your company is well run.
- Achieve a 10%+ Adjusted EBITDA. For determining the most accurate Adjusted EBITDA, you need to track extraordinary and one-time expenses so you can prove those critical financial details to a buyer.
- If you want to receive a strong valuation, then plan for leaving a normal level of working capital in the business at a transaction close. The buyer will expect there to be enough balance sheet proceeds (i.e. Accounts Receivable + Inventory – Accounts Payable) left in the business to help fund operations immediately after a transaction close.
- Don’t get innovative/creative with accounting. Follow GAP accounting guidelines or suffer corrections… and less deal dollars… after buyer due diligence.
- If an owner wants to fully retire, then building a seasoned management team with a proven operations track record is critical. However, this can be a double edge sword, as there is increased risk to an owner not involved in the day to day. In short, that owner doesn’t have as much control over the business and management, including during the sale process. In hindsight, I would have remained more involved in the business and phased myself out over a three-year period after transaction close. This would have created less risk for me in a sale process.
Bundy Group: I’m a believer in the advisory, or deal, team that is there to support an owner in the run up to, and then through, a sale process. Who was critical to you from an advisory standpoint and why?
Zeigenfuse: There are several key players for an owner to have in his corner in a transaction:
Investment banker – From keeping informed about the state of the automation M&A market, I knew that it was cycling high. An investment banking advisor experienced in the automation sector greatly increases the chance of realizing those robust valuation goals.
Legal advisor – I learned through a prior transaction what happens if you hire an inexperienced lawyer more focused on wasting time and not closing a transaction. An experienced, deal making lawyer is key, as it will make the process go much smoother while also protecting the seller’s interests. In addition, the buyer (and my wallet) appreciated the fact that I hired an experienced legal team.
Transaction accounting team – I was advised to hire an outside transaction accounting team to complete a quality of earnings report (“QofE”). This thorough analysis, managed by an experienced, independent third accounting party, validated the financial strength of Avanceon and gave me the leverage to negotiate terms around my desired transaction goals. In addition, the buyer and its transaction accounting team had an easier path to complete due diligence, especially since they found no major issues with my Company’s QofE. Finally, it was great to have a transaction accounting team in my corner during due diligence.
April 2023 automation transactions
Scandinavian mid-market GP Polaris has acquired a majority stake in Sealing System, a Danish supplier and production of packaging and palletizing lines, according to a statement. Learn more.
East West Manufacturing, LLC, an integrated design, engineering, manufacturing, and distribution services partner for original equipment manufacturers and distributors throughout North America and Europe, has acquired Eastprint Incorporated, a printed electronics solutions provider. Learn more.
EBSCO Capital Announces the Acquisition of Industrial Electronic Controls for Bailey International.As a leader in the manufacturing and distribution of mobile hydraulic power solutions, Bailey acquired IEC to expand its product portfolio and provide additional expertise in electronic throttles, displays, and sensor manufacturing. Learn more.
Applied Industrial Technologies acquired Advanced Motion Systems Inc. a provider of automation products, services, and engineered solutions focused on a full range of machine vision, robotics, and motion control products and technologies. Learn more.
Technical Safety Services (TSS) LLC, a leader in controlled environmental equipment services, is excited to announce the acquisition of Precision Air Technology. Precision Air Technology (PAT), founded in 1994 and headquartered in North Carolina, offers best-in-class Cleanroom Certification, Microbial Testing, and Testing/Calibration services in addition to providing HEPA filters, HVAC Air Filters, and associated installation services. Learn more.
Convergix Automation Solutions, an automation solutions company backed by leading private equity firm Crestview Partners, has completed the acquisition of Eagle Technologies, a Bridgman, Michigan-based systems integrator specializing in turnkey automated production and testing solutions. Learn more.
Architect Equity, a private equity firm focused on the lower middle market, announced the sale of Solution Net Systems, a leading global supplier of industrial automation solutions, to Alstef Group, a leading provider of automated turnkey solutions for airport, intralogistics and parcel markets. Learn more.
Sverica Capital Management LP, a private equity investment firm, made a strategic investment in Hirebotics, an innovative, high-growth automation company that has created a differentiated collaborative robot solution designed specifically for welding applications. Learn more.
Agôn Electronics, a company supported by Argos Wityu, signed the agreement to acquire MIOS Elettronica, an Italian provider of customized and advanced solutions for the Railway industry. Learn more.
Bundy Group is a boutique investment bank that specializes in representing controls and automation, Internet of Things, and cybersecurity companies in business sales, capital raises, and acquisitions. Over the past 33 years, Bundy Group has advised and closed on over 250 transactions, which includes numerous automation-related transactions. You can learn more at www.bundygroup.com or by contacting Clint Bundy.