Hundreds of middle-market dealmakers from all over the world are coming together at the Association for Corporate Growth’s second annual EuroGrowth 2014 conference at the Grange St. Paul's Hotel Oct. 15-16. Piero Carbone, a partner with Duane Morris LLP and chair of EuroGrowth 2014, shares his thoughts on the significance of the conference as cross-border deals become increasingly important.
What traction did you gain at the first EuroGrowth event in 2013?
ACG delivered on its promise of global M&A in 36 hours - in one comprehensive event. Last year ACG, brought together nearly 200 PE and M&A professionals from Europe, the U.S. and across the world, including representatives from 10 countries on five continents. It's the most efficient networking event available for those interested in cross-border deals. ACG Capital Connection® was introduced to the European community; it's ACG's signature networking format and an incredibly efficient pipeline for delegates to access sources for capital. ACG is looking forward to an even larger turnout at this year's EuroGrowth on Oct 15th and 16th in London at the Grange St Paul's Hotel. We're still building ACG's presence in Europe and elsewhere outside the U.S., so EuroGrowth 2013 was a great way to show the international dealmaking community what we're all about.
What are the goals for the 2014 EuroGrowth conference?
ACG wants to make EuroGrowth the go-to conference for cross-border M&A, similar to what InterGrowth has become to dealmakers in the U.S. At its core, EuroGrowth is about providing the best possible networking opportunities and giving delegates access to an extensive community of the top middle-market M&A professionals in the world. Future EuroGrowth conferences will look to expand on that and always present a fresh, innovative experience for delegates to connect.
What's new in the format?
The opening reception will feature ACG Capital Connection, creating a fun, relaxed atmosphere to meet other delegates and the participating private equity firms and corporate strategic acquirers. The executive roundtable discussions were a hit last year, so this year these will be expanded, to include various topics including: "Are There Still Opportunities to Invest in China," "Energy Deal Flow in Europe," "Sourcing Health Care Deals in the EU," "Cybersecurity Issues in Middle-Market Companies," "European Business Expanding into the U.S." and more.
How has ACG chapter membership outside the U.S. grown over the last year?
More firms are realizing that cross-border deals are huge sources of investment opportunity. ACG's mission of driving middle-market growth is a global one - from the U.S. to Europe and emerging markets such as China, Africa and South America. As more people in the international PE and M&A communities become aware of ACG and benefits of membership - including real results in their networking and deal flow - our membership outside the U.S. will continue to expand.
What dealmaking trends has ACG seen in Europe over the last year?
In 2013, deal flow in the middle market seemed to remain stable or possibly increased slightly; however deal valuations did not appear to move up significantly. In addition to proprietary deals available to general partners in markets where companies that are good candidates for private equity ownership has not been fully penetrated, a wave of PE-owned assets acquired during the pre-recession boom years were ready for exit. That set up opportunities for sponsor-to-sponsor transactions or initial public offerings as equity capital markets opened up again.
Closing deals was challenging and required more time and creativity than in previous years, as pricing expectations from sellers and sophisticated buyers continued to diverge. The combination of good public market performance and rising valuations-due to the robust debt markets, stiff competition and large amounts of un-invested PE capital-made sellers more reluctant to sell at attractive prices for buyers.