Mid-market Argos Index® Q4 2022

Acquisition prices of European SMEs down slightly to 9.9x EBITDA, signalling the start of an anticipated decline.

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 Argos Index® Mid-market for the fourth quarter of 2022. 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.

“In the fourth quarter of 2022, acquisition prices of euro-zone SMEs began to decline, as anticipated. Transaction values were nonetheless driven by major deals, while the number of transactions remained stable, owing to the number of small transactions. In 2022, mid-market M&A activity indicated that the euro-zone’s mid-market companies were resilient despite the downturn in economic and financial conditions,” said Louis Godron, Managing Partner at Argos Wityu.

Limited decline in acquisition prices of unlisted European SMEs to under 10x EBITDA

Median EV/EBITDA multiple, 6-mo. rolling basis – Source: Argos Index® Mid-market / Epsilon Research

  • In the fourth quarter of 2022, the Argos Index® declined slightly to 9.9x EBITDA, slipping below 10x EBITDA for the first time in two and a half years (Q2 2020).

    This relative stability must be qualified, however:

  • Acquisition prices on the most recent transactions in the index sample are down, confirming the anticipated decline in valuations, against a background of inflation, high interest rates and geopolitical uncertainties.

  • The spread widened between the multiples of the upper mid-market (now 12.6x EBITDA), which are driving the market, and the lower mid-market (down further to 8.6x EBITDA).

Slight erosion in prices paid, both by investment funds and strategic buyers.

  • During the quarter, the multiples paid by investment funds declined by 2% to 10.5x EBITDA, while the number of private-equity transactions declined by 12%, reflecting higher interest rates and bank selectivity.

  • Prices paid by strategic buyers were also down slightly, at 9.8x EBITDA. They have been remarkably stable for the past year, despite the volatility in equity markets, as large companies have been taking advantage of the opportunity to transform their business models to respond to structural changes.

The share of transactions at multiples > 15x EBITDA has stabilised at its pre-Covid level.

  • Transactions > 15x EBITDA represented 14% of those analysed. This proportion is in line with that observed since the first quarter of 2022 and has stabilised at its pre-Covid level. In the fourth quarter, all transactions were in the technology or pharmaceutical sectors.

  • Those < 7x EBITDA represented 19% of transactions analysed, an increase compared with previous quarters in 2022.

In 2022, mid-market M&A activity was resilient.

  • This quarter, euro-zone mid-market M&A activity fell 43% in value terms, weighed down by the upper mid-market’s 57% decline. Yet the number of transactions remained stable (as it did over all of 2022), underpinned by small transactions.

  • In 2022, the M&A mid-market was more resilient, in value terms, than the overall M&A market. It declined by 18% but remains at an historically high level, whereas the European M&A market contracted by 39%.

Argos Wityu

Coralie Cornet
+33 6 14 48 33 37

About Argos Wityu / argos.wityu.fund

One company, two strategies.

Argos Wityu is an independent European private-equity group supporting the growth of SMEs and their management teams.

It has more than €1.4bn in assets under management, 30+ years of experience, has supported more than 90 companies and operates from offices in Brussels, Frankfurt, Geneva, Luxembourg, Milan and Paris. The group seeks to acquire majority interests and invests between €10m and €100m per investment in its two strategies:

  • The Mid-market fund helps companies use new capital to accelerate their growth.
  • The Climate Action fund aims to create sustainable European leaders by helping them to realise their grey-to-green transition.

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 comparables, private equity fund investments.

The Argos Index® Mid-market 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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Jean-Pierre Di Benedetto - Argos Wityu

Jean Pierre Di Benedetto

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Giuseppe Bonsignore - Argos Wityu

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Louis Godron - Argos Wityu

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Karel Kroupa - Argos Wityu

karel Kroupa

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Gilles Lorang - Argos Wityu

Gilles Lorang

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Coralie Cornet - Argos Wityu

Coralie Cornet

Head of communications


Jacqui Darbyshire - Argos Wityu

Jacqui Darbyshire

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