After reaching a deal to buy Internet phone company magicJack and completing the acquisition of FBR in 2017, B. Riley is not likely done seeking deals, according to CEO Bryant Riley. Armed with $250 million in equity to fund M&A, the financial services firm will continue to look for targets at a reasonable valuation, says Riley.
“From my perspective, our model is to find businesses that are undervalued,” Riley tells Mergers & Acquisitions.
magicJack Vocaltec Ltd. (Nasdaq: CALL) is a cloud communications company that allows customers to make and receive phone calls using Internet broadband access. The Netanya, Israel-based company distributes magicJack devices sold by more than 25,000 retail stores. As part of the deal, magicJack will be held by B. Riley subsidiary Principal Investments LLC, the entity that currently owns a complementary telecommunications business called United Online Inc. B. Riley Financial Inc. (Nasdaq: RILY) has agreed to pay about $143 million for the company.
Riley says that magicJack and United Online are a good fit for each other because the two companies share a similar customer base. B. Riley paid about $170 million for United, another Internet services provider in 2016. “If we can find businesses that can utilize our operational skillset and it’s something we can all value, that’s where we want to be,” Riley says.
magicJack is not the only deal Los-Angeles-based B.Riley made in 2017. The firm also bought FBR & Co., an investment banking and brokerage firm, for about $160 million. The merger agreement resulted in a newly combined firm with an increased capital base and “meaningful revenue and expense synergies,” according to B. Riley.
FBR, headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, is an independent investment bank that was spun off from the firm’s parent company in 2007. The newly combined company creates a small-cap investment bank with capital raising capabilities, such as: direct lending, recapitalizations, formation capital and growth capital.
B. Riley typically avoids auctions, and instead, finds targets through its own sources. “We have a really interesting platform to find things,” Riley points out.