A banner year
2019 was a record year for Audax. In addition to celebrating 20 years as a firm, Audax closed on Audax Private Equity Fund VI with $3.5 billion, making it the Boston-based firm’s largest fund to date. With the raising of the new fund, Audax broadened its limited partner base to include nearly 50 percent international investors. The fund is also 50 percent larger than Audax Private Equity Fund V.
Additionally, Audax closed the most U.S.-based deals, according to Pitchbook’s 2019 Global League tables. The firm closed on 117 acquisitions totaling a record of more than $4.4 billion of total enterprise value acquired. Audax added 17 new investment professionals and a total of 24 new hires to its overall private equity team.
Expansion in every way
In addition to adding staff, Audax expanded its office space in Boston as well as implemented a more robust intern program and hosted its 2nd annual Private Equity Women’s forum, with the goal of recruiting more female deal team members. Audax also officially launched its charitable program—The Audax Charitable Foundation—which will support local charities in Boston and San Francisco and support Audax employees in their charitable endeavors.
Buying and selling
Audax bought EIS Inc., a provider of electrical parts and materials in September 2019. Audax sourced the deal from JPMorgan, one of its first from a bulge bracket firm. Audax had pre-existing knowledge of the electrical cable and interconnect sector, which allowed Audax to move quickly through the due diligence process and close. The firm plans to execute a buy-and-build strategy in the fragmented market, having already identified actionable opportunities.
Audax bought Stonewall Kitchen, a provider of artisanal, flavor-forward products, from Centre Partners. Audax has been investigating opportunities in the food and beverage space for the last couple of years. Stonewall Kitchen represents its first investment in the space. Like with EIS, Audax has already identified and vetted an acquisition pipeline, presenting the firm with multiple opportunities for add-on acquisitions in the space.
2019 was also a busy year for Audax exits, with more than $1 billion total realized from eight exited deals. Roughly half of the firm’s exits in 2019 went to strategic acquirers with the other half going to financial buyers.
In June 2019, Audax Private equity sold Imperial Dade to Bain Capital. Over a three-year holding period, Imperial Dade completed 16 acquisitions, including the transformative acquisition of Dade Paper, which led to expansion into 10 states and ultimately 30 distribution centers.
Audax also sold CoolSys, a provider of refrigeration and HVAC services to retail, food services, commercial and industrial markets. Ares Management Corp. was the buyer. Audax was attracted to Source Refrigeration, the original platform, by the recurring nature of its preventative maintenance business. The firm saw an opportunity to expand upon that core to provide a fuller suite of HVAC services. Over the course of Audax’ ownership, the company rebranded from Source Refrigeration to CoolSys and completed eight add-ons.
To see all the award winners, check out Meet the winners of Mergers & Acquisitions’ M&A Mid-Market Awards.