Equiteq was engaged by Paris-based Activeo, a leader in Customer Collaboration Technologies and Customer Experience Consulting, to define and implement a strategic international development plan, where organic growth would be boosted by targeted acquisitions and new ventures. The ultimate objective was to optimize the outcome of an exit strategy to be executed within the next few years. With in-depth expertise and insights in the consulting industry, Equiteq helped Activeo design and execute the strategic plan, first by creating a new unit in Switzerland, then by acquiring a majority shareholding in Kasturi Technology, and a strong minority stake in, Jusfeedback, two Singaporean companies specialized in Unified Communications (UC) and Customer Feedback Management. These moves constituted major steps for Activeo to expand in Asia-Pacific (supplementing its existing bridgehead in India) and build an integrated international network.
The client’s situation
Established in 1993 with HQ in Paris, Activeo is a recognized leader in Customer Collaboration Technologies and in Customer Experience Consulting. However, with the market getting more global, Activeo was feeling constrained by being too heavily focused and dependent on the French market, and decided to embark on an international development strategy that would pave the way towards a successful exit event to be completed by 2020. Given the expected benefits, but also the challenges of such an approach, Activeo retained Equiteq as the lead advisor to help design and execute this strategy.
Equiteq advised Activeo throughout its international expansion journey, from the planning phase to the selection and acquisition of local partners. The value was delivered in three stages:
1. Equity Growth Accelerator (EGA) Benchmark and International Development/Acquisition Strategy: Equiteq guided Activeo through a comprehensive benchmarking process that underscored the company’s strengths and weaknesses against Equiteq’s 8 Levers of Equity Value. The results were used to create a prioritised action plan, focusing on the steps to be taken to ensure that Activeo would be poised to successfully implement this international development strategy.
2. Acquisition Target Profile and Target List: Thorough scanning of the Singaporean Unified Communications market, identifying potential ‘targets’, based on the retained criteria.
3. Transaction Phase: Equiteq engaged with all potential targets, eliciting interest for discussions and guiding the parties towards a synergistic integration plan. Equiteq then assisted Activeo in the drafting of a Letter of Intent (and at a later stage the final agreements), the conduct of the due diligence process and the design of the post-acquisition integration plan.
Shareholder exit goals & deal rationale between buyer & seller
Activeo’s main shareholder, Joseph Kort, wanted to take the company, over a five-year period, from a firm that focused on the French UC market to an international organization with the same industry focus, but with a larger footprint in Europe and Asia. This expansion would result in better coverage of international accounts and optimization of cost structure, doubling the revenues and EBITDA percentage. This strategic plan, however, had to be boosted by targeted acquisitions, to be completed through mostly share deals, whereby the shareholders of the acquired companies would realize the value of their firms through the common exit strategy.
How did this deliver value to the client?
- Brought rigour and discipline in the process of exploring the various possible scenarios, with their pros & cons, benefits & concerns.
- Translated the scenarios into quantified business plans, with different possible variants - Helped Activeo build the cases that supported negotiations with the ‘targets’, as well as, in some cases, with the banks.
- Assisted in the approaches and negotiations, in a relatively complex international, multi-cultural context.
- Identifyied and addressed the post-acquisition integration and synergistic issues.
- Kept the plan geared towards the optimization of an exit event to be completed in the years to come.
Read the press release on this deal here.