A lot of attention is being paid to private equity dealmaking, or lack thereof, but not as much to strategic buyers. One middle-market investment banker says that’s a mistake.
“No deals are easy to get done right now, but we have a really good pipeline actually,” New York-based Carl Marks Advisors partner Chris Parisi tells Mergers & Acquisitions. “Some deals that were expected to get done last year got pushed back into Q1 and Q2 of this year and they’re getting done at valuations we initially agreed upon.”
Parisi says that most of the deals his firm is working on are going to strategic buyers. “Over the past nine months, we’ve witnessed strategic buyers being much more aggressive and committed to closing deals than financial buyers. We’re certainly paying more attention to the risks of selling to a financial sponsor, especially with their exposure to the credit markets and their unfamiliarity with an industry, in the case of a platform investment. For those reasons, our buyers are much more heavily weighted to the strategics right now.”
Carl Marks recently advised Roane Metals Group, a metals recycling company, on its sale to Commercial Metals Company (NYSE: CMC). Parisi worked directly on that deal.
Strategic buyers have a couple of factors working in their favor in terms of financing. They have cash on their balance sheets and credit revolvers that have already been in place at more favorable interest rates. PE firms starting a new acquisition platform will have to raise new financing at higher rates. Commercial Metals’ total liquidity, as of the end of November last year was $1.5 billion, for example.
Dealmaking is tough for everyone now, but as Parisi suggests, strategic buyers have it easier than their PE peers.