25/01/2022 - News

Clearwater International’s 2021 hailed as milestone year

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Global mid-market corporate finance house Clearwater International completed 209 transactions in 2021, an increase of 76% compared to 2020.

As the M&A market boomed, Clearwater stepped ahead of the market trend gaining ground across Europe, and moving up five places to 8th position in Mergermarket’s 2021 European financial advisors league table by volume.

Europe deal table Q4 2021
Clearwater International completed 209 transactions in 2021, an increase of 76% compared to 2020

The business also increased its average deal size, boosting the combined deal value of completed transactions in 2021 to €15bn, close to double that of 2020.

Over 25% of transactions completed by Clearwater in 2021 were cross-border, involving businesses and funds in over 20 countries. Almost 20% of these cross-border transactions involved a US-based acquirer, illustrating the interest of US acquirers in mid-market European businesses as well as the effectiveness of Clearwater’s partnership with KeyBanc Capital Markets (KBCM) in reaching them.

The Private Equity (PE) market was particularly busy with funds active in both exits and new investments. As Clearwater International’s Multiples Heatmap publications have indicated throughout 2021, PE multiples hit record levels, with valuations for attractive assets rising throughout the year. Clearwater’s involvement in the PE space expanded, with 72% of all transactions completed in 2021 involving PE. Working with 86 PE funds across Europe, Clearwater advised on 23 buyouts and 37 exits in 2021, placing the corporate finance house in 8th place and 4th place, respectively, in Mergermarket’s European PE buyouts and exits league tables.

Clearwater advised on 23 buyouts and 37 exits in 2021

During 2021, Clearwater International continued to invest in expertise in key growth sectors. In May 2021, Clearwater announced a number of senior promotions and appointments in the TMT sector including the promotion of UK-based tech specialist Wesley Fell-Smith to partner and the external hiring of two partners, Nathaniel Cooper in the UK and Jérémy Sartre in France.

Reaping the benefits of sustained investment in the booming TMT sector over recent years, Clearwater saw an increase of 71% in deal volume while aggregate deal value more than doubled. Notable TMT deals included the sale of Infinity Works, one of the UK’s leading digital transformation consultants, to Accenture which was completed in conjunction with Clearwater’s US partner, KBCM; the sale of Bluetab Solutions, a Spanish leader in Big Data, to IBM Global Business Services; and the sale of ContentCal, a SaaS-based content marketing planning business, to Adobe Inc.

Clearwater advised on 86% more healthcare deals than in 2020

Healthcare was another key area of focus for the business, with Clearwater enhancing ties with KBCM’s healthcare advisory business Cain Brothers as well as investing in the team throughout Europe over recent years including the appointment of Stefan Sachsenhauser as Managing Director and Head of Healthcare in the DACH region in 2021. As with TMT, this sustained strategic investment in the healthcare sector paid off handsomely in 2021 as Clearwater advised on 86% more deals than in 2020.

This landmark deal was one of 25 healthcare deals worth an aggregate of €6bn that Clearwater advised on in 2021

PE funds have shown particular interest in the healthcare sector as reflected in one of France’s largest LBOs to date which saw Clearwater advise long-term client Sagesse Retraite Sante (SRS), one of France’s leading investors in the health and medico-social sectors, on their reinvestment in DomusVi, alongside Intermediate Capital Group and management. This landmark deal was one of 25 healthcare deals worth an aggregate of €6bn that Clearwater advised on in 2021.

Clearwater continued to consolidate its strong position in the industrials & chemicals, business services and consumer sectors, which also saw substantial upticks in both deal volume and value during the year.

During 2021, Clearwater International’s European Debt Advisory team doubled the number of deals it advised on. Notable transactions included advising J.F. Hillebrand Group, the leading global player in the alcoholic beverage freight forwarding industry on a €200m refinancing, advising Churches Fire & Security, a provider of fire and safety and security compliance services on an €88m refinancing, and advising Gradiente on financing the leveraged buy-out of Giuriati Group, a supplier of nutraceuticals, natural cosmetics and sanitary products distributed to pharmacies.

the business continued to invest in its European footprint with the addition of team based in Marseille

Geographically, the business continued to invest in its European footprint with the addition of a two-partner, seven-person team based in Marseille boosting the growth of the French team as activity in the region continues to attract interest. And towards the end of the year, Clearwater was proud to announce the hiring of former PwC partner Sarah Taylor in the UK. Sarah brings 24 years of corporate finance experience and further enhances the business’ award-winning Midlands team as well as Clearwater’s presence in the business services sector in particular.

In the final quarter of 2021, Clearwater International made further investment in senior leadership with the appointment of Julian Brown as CEO. Julian joined the business with almost 30 years of international corporate finance experience in Europe and North America including 15 years’ experience at PwC building and running their corporate finance businesses in Spain, Canada and latterly the USA, as well as sitting on their Global Corporate Finance Board with responsibility for North and South America.

Clearwater International won eight awards in 2021 including UK Corporate Finance House of the Year, Corporate Finance Advisory Team of the Year in both the North West and Midlands regions in the UK and Food Team of the Year in Italy. Clearwater also won awards for their work on three specific deals during the year and partner Richard Goldsack was named Dealmaker of the Year in the Yorkshire region of the UK.

Julian Brown

Julian Brown, CEO, commented:

“The business has achieved remarkable results and recognition in 2021 thanks to the outstanding work and dedication of our people to achieving our clients’ goals. I am delighted that this dedication from the team has been recognised through multiple award nominations and wins this year. We have remained committed to developing and investing in talent across the business through external hires, leadership and training programmes, and strengthening our collaborations throughout the globe. As we move into 2022, engagement is at the heart of our strategy, engagement with our people, with our clients, and with all the other stakeholders of our growing business.”

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