Mid-market Argos Index® 2nd quarter 2022

Acquisition prices of unlisted European SMEs continue to decline, but remain high, at 10.0x EBITDA.

Paris (France) – 18 February 2022 – Argos Wityu, the independent European investment fund, and Epsilon Research, the online platform for the management of non-quoted M&A transactions, today published the Mid-market Argos Index® for the fourth quarter of 2021. This index, launched in 2006, tracks the valuations of eurozone private, mid-market companies in which a majority stake has been acquired during the last six months.

Acquisition prices of unlisted European SMEs have corrected once again.

Argos Index - Argos Wityu

Median EV/EBITDA multiple on a six-month rolling basis – Source: Mid-market Argos Index® / Epsilon Research

  • In Q2 2022, the Argos Index® declined to 10.0x EBITDA, down 14% from the high a year ago and back to its level of December 2021.

  • The change is attributable to a decline in volume of mid-market M&A activity, the war in Ukraine lasting longer than expected, a steep rise in inflation, rapid hikes in interest rates, and significantly slower growth in the United States and Europe.

  • However, the impact of these turbulent conditions on prices and mid-market activity remains moderate compared with the impact on equity markets and the global M&A market .

The EURO STOXX® TMI Small declined by 19.2% in H1 2022
[1] Global M&A activity fell 23% in value and 16% in Europe compared with H1 2021 – Source: Refinitiv

Prices paid by strategic buyers down slightly.

  • In Q2, multiples paid by funds were stable, at 10.8x EBITDA, but down by 2x EBITDA from the high of Q2 2021.

  • Multiples paid by strategic buyers declined slightly, to 9.9 EBITDA, and were affected by the sharp contraction in equity markets.

A growing share of transactions at multiples < 7x EBITDA.

  • The share of transactions > 15x EBITDA is down significantly from 2021, as it was in Q1, and accounts for 15% of analysed transactions (i.e. the pre-Covid level).

  • At the same time, the share of transactions < 7x EBITDA increased and now accounts for 20% of the sample.

Decline in European mid-market M&A activity related to fewer LBO deals.

  • Mid-market M&A activity declined by 14% in volume compared with the previous quarter, but is stable in value. It has withstood the deteriorated economic and financial outlook better than the global M&A market, which fell 23% in value in Q1 compared with 2021.

  • Mid-market buyout activity fell significantly in Q2: –19% in volume and –43% in value, particularly for large transactions (–30% for deals between €150m and €500m), a performance related to rapid hikes in interest rates and to lower borrowing capacity for LBO deals.

  • Nonetheless, funds continue to benefit from record levels of money available for investment, and unlisted assets still enjoy strong profitability.

Agence toBnext

Antoinette Darpy
+33 (0)6 72 95 07 92

About Argos Wityu / www.argos.wityu.fund
Argos Wityu is an independent European investment fund that supports companies in the transfer of business ownership. It has assisted more than 80 entrepreneurs, focusing its investment strategy on complex transactions with emphasis on transformation, growth, and close collaboration with management teams. Argos Wityu seeks to acquire majority interests and invest between €10m and €100m with each transaction. With more than €1bn under management and 30 years of experience, Argos Wityu operates from offices in Brussels, Frankfurt, Geneva, Luxembourg, Milan and Paris.

Epsilon Research developed the first online platform for the management of non-quoted M&A transactions, aimed at M&A professionals. The Epsilon platform includes data, analysis reports, software and services essential for private company valuation / deal management: EMAT, the largest database of European private company transaction multiples, with detailed analysis of 8,000 M&A deals, ranging from €1m to €500m in value, covering all industry sectors; indices and studies published regularly by Epsilon, including the Argos Index; cloud-based software for managing M&A contacts and projects; valuation of comparable private equity fund investments.

The Mid-market Argos Index® tracks the valuation of unlisted mid-market companies in the eurozone. Carried out by Argos Wityu and Epsilon Research and published every three months, it reflects median EV/EBITDA multiples, on a six-month rolling basis, of transactions meeting the following criteria: mid-market (equity value between €15m and €500m for 100%), target based in a eurozone country, acquisition of a majority stake, certain activities excluded (financial services, real estate, high-tech).

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