The energy industry is teeming with M&A activity, as companies seek to improve operations. Hubbell, Ingersoll Rand and private equity firms AE Industrial Partners and Genstar Capital are among the buyers.
Companies in the energy industry are focused on improving operational efficiencies and analytical capabilities. The issues are urgent for oil and gas companies, because depressed prices mean profits are hard to come by, says Caroline Blitzer Phillips, who advises clients on energy deals as a partner at law firm Vinson & Elkins. They are also essential for renewable energy, which “has been quite expensive in some cases, because the infrastructure is not in place.”
From providers of “smart grids” to developers of energy management software, here are 14 recently acquired targets.
Aclara Technologies (bought by Hubbell)
Hubbell (NYSE: HUBB) purchased Aclara Technologies for $1.1 billion in a deal that was completed in February. Hubbell, which manufactures electrical and electronic products for construction and utility companies purchased Aclara to increase its own smart infrastructure capabilities. Aclara’s smart technology includes advanced metering infrastructure, meters, software and installation services. Aclara provides data, analytics and technology to water, gas and electric utilities. “Together with Aclara, Hubbell will be even better positioned to serve customers through a differentiated smart grid solution and expanded portfolio,” said Hubbell CEO David Nord in a statement. Aclara had $500 million in revenue and an adjusted Ebitda of $90 million for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30.
Agilis Energy (Ingersoll Rand)
Global diversified industrial manufacturing behemoth Ingersoll Rand (NYSE: IR) completed a deal for energy data analytics company Agilis Energy for an undisclosed sum in April. Agilis uses patented, smart-meter energy analytics applications to quantify energy usage patterns with the aim of helping energy companies with business in the commercial, multi-family residential and industrial sectors achieve annual energy savings. Agilis is used in more than 3,300 building worldwide. Its software focuses on energy use and patterns, providing information on where and how customers can reduce total building energy use. The deal bolsters Ingersoll Rand’s analytical capabilities. “Demand is high for digital solutions that help building owners measurably increase energy efficiency and address climate change,” said Donny Simmons, president of the commercial HVAC business of Ingersoll Rand, in a release.
BHI Energy (AE Industrial Partners)
Private equity firm AE Industrial Partners LP purchased BHI Energy for an undisclosed sum in a deal completed in August 2017. BHI, a maintenance and staffing company, increases AEI’s servicing and repair capabilities and brings in a large client base from the power generation, oil and gas, electricity transmission and distribution sectors. The deal was completed at a time when service and repair providers were receiving a lot of attention from buyers. “We are excited to work with the outstanding team at AEI and benefit from their deep and unique experience partnering with specialty service providers in our end markets,” said Bob Decensi, CEO of BHI Energy, in a release. “BHI is well known for its commitment to safety, quality, customers and employees. AEI brings additional expertise, relationships and financial resources necessary to continue to grow our suite of service offerings we can provide to our customer base.” In July, AEI closed its second fund with $1.36 billion in equity commitments. Fund II is making control investments in technical manufacturing, distribution and supply chain management, MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul), and industrial service-based businesses.
Drillinginfo (Genstar Capital)
PE firm Genstar Capital purchased a majority stake in Drillinginfo from Insight Venture Partners for a reported $20 million in a deal that closed in August. Insight retained a significant minority stake. Genstar invests in the software, industrial technology, healthcare and financial industry sectors. Drillinginfo provides information and analytics to more than 3,500 energy companies globally and employs 675 staffers at its Austin, Texas, headquarters. In a recent report, Drillinginfo said that the U.S. is expected to supplant Russia as the leading global producer of crude oil, increasing the availability of funding for M&A. “Our investment focus in the software sector is to identify companies with market-leading technologies operating in dynamic growth markets,” said Eli Weiss, managing director of Genstar, in a release. “As with our earlier successful partnerships, we will provide the additional investment capital and resources to further broaden Drillinginfo’s customer relationships and execute their growth strategy.” Jeff Hughes, CEO and president of Drillinginfo, said the deal would provide his company with the resources to expand.
Multi-national power utility company Enel Group purchased EnerNOC (Nasdaq: ENOC) in August 2017 for $300 million. EnerNOC provides energy management software to energy companies. EnerNOC went public in 2007 and grew its geographic footprint through a series of deals. “In combining forces with the Enel Group, we look forward to accelerating the growth of our core businesses and to delivering ever more value to our customers, as we lead the transition to a more sustainable, distributed energy future,” said Tim Healy, who served as chairman and CEO of EnerNOC at the time of the acquisition and has since left the company.
Geo-Connections (Dandelion Energy)
Geothermal heating and cooling system distributor Dandelion Energy in March announced a deal to buy Geo-Connections, which provides software for geothermal energy companies, for undisclosed terms. Dandelion is a startup company that was conceived in the research and development lab of Google’s parent company Alphabet (Nasdaq: GOOGL). The goal of the acquisition is to build technology that will make geothermal heating and cooling affordable for homeowners, said James Quazi, co-founder and chief technology officer at Dandelion. “At Dandelion, we are committed to growing the number of home geothermal installations by making geothermal affordable. Enabling our installation partners to design high-quality systems quickly is critical to this mission, and Geo-Connections has developed the most advanced tools for this.” Ryan Carda, co-founder and president of Geo-Connections, is now principal engineer for Dandelion and is focused on standardization and automation of the system engineering process.
iLandMan (P2 Energy Solutions)
Oil and gas software company P2 Energy Solutions announced in May it had signed a deal to acquire iLandMan for an undisclosed sum. iLand Man is a cloud-based land and lease management software provider whose software aims to help energy companies eliminate waste by organizing information on all company projects, maps and reports in one place. “P2 continuously strives to help our customers drive down costs and improve overall performance by ensuring we have the solutions that meet the variety of needs of the modern upstream oil and gas company,” said P2 CEO J. Scott Lockhart. “iLandMan expands our ability to optimize lease acquisition and land management processes for companies of all sizes, and brings with it excellent customers, software, and dedicated colleagues.”
Innotap (MCG Energy Solutions)
MCG Energy Solutions completed a deal in March for analytics provider Innotap for an undisclosed sum. MCG is a software company that specializes in operating and financial systems for companies in the wholesale energy marketplace. The acquisition gives the buyer access to Innotap’s data and analytics, which the firm will use to support trade execution within MCG’s operating systems. Innotap’s data and analytics are used by energy and commodities traders in real-time to help them capture opportunities in the market. MCG plans to use the acquisition to continue its growth in the energy software space, said co-founder and CEO Mike Prickett, in a release. “Innotap’s line of pre-trade analysis and transaction monitoring products extends MCG’s focus on the front office and reinforces our strong portfolio in the front, middle and back offices. We are very excited to add Innotap’s products and people to MCG’s rapidly expanding footprint in the energy software space.”
Landworks (Pandell Technologies)
Energy software company Pandell Technologies completed a deal for Landworks, for undisclosed terms, in January. Landworks provides asset management and geographic information system (GIS) software to energy companies focused on oil and gas, mining, pipelines, renewable wind energy and utilities. The Landworks acquisition brings Pandell three suites of software products and a client base of more than 100 companies. “With the acquisition of LandWorks, Pandell can now offer a full suite of land solutions to companies operating in Canada, the USA, and globally,” said Greg Chudiak, president and CEO of Pandell. “Like Pandell, LandWorks is well recognized for its innovation, reliability, and customer-focused services. We are looking forward to seeing what will be achieved when two industry leaders join forces to deliver land software tools that are second to none.”
NuGen Automatio (LineStar Integrity Services)
LineStar Integrity Services purchased NuGen Automation, for an undisclosed sum, in a deal that closed in February. LineStar, owned by private equity firm First Reserve, is looking to grow its business in the pipeline integrity, maintenance and repair services, and the acquisition of NuGen adds capabilities to the firm in the areas of supervisory control, data acquisition systems and information technology. NuGen focuses on providing automation, compliance and technological solutions for the upstream and midstream markets of the oil and gas industries. The move is part of a larger drive for growth, both through acquisitions and organically, said LineStar CEO Daniel Cowan, in a release. “NuGen represents an important building block to grow our energy, integrity, regulatory compliance, and control center operation offerings. The company’s proprietary business solutions and in-depth knowledge of how to capture, analyze, and monitor large amounts of operational data serves to greatly improve the safety, profitability, reliability and regulatory compliance standards of oil and gas assets.”
Analytics company Verisk (Nasdaq: VRSK) is looking to broaden its market intelligence capabilities with its $280 million purchase of PowerAdvocate, completed in November. Verisk provides analytics to companies in the financial services, insurance and natural resources sectors. “The acquisition will expand Verisk’s existing offerings to the energy sector by adding PowerAdvocate’s proprietary spend data and cost models,” Scott Stephenson, CEO of Verisk, told Mergers & Acquisitions. These enhanced offerings will provide our customers with unique insight to increase profitability.” PowerAdvocate has a proprietary data set on $2.7 trillion of data spending.
PowerTeam Services (Clayton, Dubilier & Rice)
Clayton, Dubilier & Rice announced in August that it is acquiring PowerTeam Services LLC, a provider of maintenance and construction services to the U.S. utility industries for undisclosed terms. PowerTeam provides services to maintain, repair, upgrade, and install natural gas and electric distribution and transmission systems. These services are critical to maintaining the safety, reliability and integrity of aging gas and electric infrastructure, says the private equity firm, which has offices in New York and London. PowerTeam’s customer base includes leading regulated utilities in the southeastern and midwestern U.S., which it serves through a network of 42 locations in 21 states with approximately 4,200 employees. Approximately two-thirds of PowerTeam's revenue is related to natural gas systems, and more than 70 percent of revenue is derived from distribution infrastructure. "The company has a very promising future," said John Krenicki, CD&R operating partner, former vice chairman of General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) and CEO of GE Energy. "PowerTeam's management has built a strong market position, and we share their vision for the future, which we believe will create rewarding career opportunities for the company's more than 4,000 talented employees." Krenicki will serve as the chairman of PowerTeam post-closing. Lewis Hay, operating advisor to CD&R funds and former chairman, president, and CEO of NextEra Energy, will serve on PowerTeam’s board of directors.
Specialized Desanders Inc. (Morgan Stanley Energy Partners)
Private equity firm Morgan Stanley Energy Partners completed a deal to acquire Calgary-based Specialized Desanders Inc. for an undisclosed sum in March. The deal gives MSEP an interest in the oil sands business centered in the Canadian province of Alberta. SDI builds, sells and services the equipment that removes sand and other solids when crude oil is extracted from oilfields. The company has long-term relationships with Canadian energy companies and has been growing its business in the U.S. The move is in line with MSEP’s strategy of investing strategically in established energy businesses primarily based in North America. “The North American energy industry continues to increase productivity, and innovative companies like SDI have proven critical in supporting this success,” said John Moon, head of MSEP. “SDI will continue to play an important and growing role in enabling the next generation of completion techniques.”
Utopus Insights (Vestas Wind Systems)
Vestas Wind Systems announced in February it had reached a deal to purchase U.S.-based Utopus Insights for $100 million. Vestas, a global wind power company based in Denmark, made the deal in an effort to provide customers with better predictability, increased energy production and more operational efficiency through analytical technology and software. “Vestas’ strategic objective is to accelerate the transition towards a fully decarbonized energy sector in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible, both for our customers and for our planet,” said Anders Runevad, Vesta group president and CEO. “Acquiring Utopus Insights significantly improves Vestas’ existing market-leading capabilities for advanced analytics and integrated energy software solutions. We will now be able to provide our customers improved forecasting, output optimization and coordination between assets, and support the larger energy ecosystem’s increased uptake of renewable energy.” Utopus Insights spun out from IBM's (NYSE: IBM) Smart Energy Research Institute and has personnel with expertise in data science, energy, meteorology, software and utility operations.