More M&A: Mergermarket Sale and the Purchase of Revere Data

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Pearson’s auction of Mergermarket Group, a research firm covering the M&A and related markets, was a success.   BC Partners, a London-based private-equity firm, bought Mergermarket for £382 million ($623 million), well above Pearson’s floor of £300 million.  We should also note that FactSet Research Systems earlier acquired Revere Data, a prominent provider of supply chain data, in a smaller, tuck-in purchase.  While neither Mergermarket nor Revere are traditional research houses, their sales show promise for future research transactions.

Mergermarket Group

As we noted earlier in a more detailed review of the auction, Mergermarket’s 2012 revenues were reportedly around £100 million ($162 million).  Mergermarket’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation were £28m ($45 million), according to offering documents.    At a purchase price of £382 million, Mergermarket’s revenue multiple is close to 4x (3.8x) and its EBITDA multiple is 13.8x.  Thomson Reuters and McGraw-Hill Financial trade at multiples around 14x EBITDA.

Nikos Stathopoulos, the managing partner on the Mergermarket deal for BC Partners, stated that the transaction was valued at 10-11x Mergermarket’s 2013 EBITDA, indicating that Mergermarket’s 2013 earnings are expected to be in the $56 to 62 million range, a 30-40% jump in profits from 2012. Stathopoulos cited Mergermarket’s double digit revenue growth as a justification for BC Partners’ valuation.

Mergermarket was acquired by the Financial Times in 2006 for £101 million ($192 million), giving Pearson a nice profit on the transaction.  Now speculation turns to what Pearson will want to sell next: Medley Global? the FT itself?

Revere Data

Factset acquired Revere Data LLC in September 2013 reportedly for $15.4 million, a much smaller transaction than Mergermarket’s.  Based in San Francisco, Revere Data maintains a supply chain taxonomy used by instutional investors and the sell side for peer group analysis.

The Revere Hierarchy (TM) is a patented classification system that details suppliers, customers and competitors. The Revere Relationships (TM) database maps a company to its key competitors, customers, suppliers, and strategic partners. Revere’s custormers use its products to identify competitors by product; highlight customers, suppliers, and partners; find companies with any combination of characteristics and perform comparisons and peer-group analysis.

Revere has been leveraging its expertise to create investable index products.  It has partnered with Powershares and other product providers to create over 20 ETFs tied to indices which have input from Revere.  Revere claims that $2billion in assets are linked to the products it helps manage.  Revere’s royalties are likely to be modest at this AUM level, but the business is highly profitable.

We estimate Revere’s revenues at around $6 million for a 2.5x revenue multiple on the transaction.  Factset is a good strategic partner for Revere, giving it both a technology platform for additional product development, and a larger customer set for growth.

Conclusion

In the current research environment, few research firms can rival Mergermarket’s growth trajectory.  Revere Data has had more modest growth, but has successfully built a differentiated research product which is useful to clients and complements other research product.  We can learn from both examples, but Revere Data is a more likely role model for other research shops.

Both transactions bode well for research providers, suggesting that the M&A market is continuing to improve, with growing appetite from both strategic and financial investors for solid research properties.

 

 

 

FactSet Research Systems Inc
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