Mid-market Argos Index® Q4 2019

Mid-market Argos Index® Q4 2019

26/02/2020 – France – Press Release!#!

Acquisition prices of unlisted European SMEs reached a new high of 10.3x EBITDA

Very sharp rise in number of transactions with multiples in excess of 20x EBITDA.

European mid-market M&A activity down in 2019 despite a jump in the fourth quarter

Paris (France) – 26 February 2020 – 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 2019. 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.

Access to the Mid-market Argos Index® Q4 2019

Acquisition prices of unlisted European SMEs reached a new high of 10.3x EBITDA

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

Prices paid to acquire unlisted European SMEs reflected the turnaround in economic projections at the end of the year:

  • The principal central banks have inaugurated a new round of quantitative easing.
  • Fears of a worldwide recession have receded as economic growth continues in the United States and worldwide trade tensions appear to be subsiding.

The prices paid by corporate buyers remained high at 10.7x EBITDA, while the prices paid by buy-out capital funds stood at 10.0x EBITDA.

The percentage of transactions at high multiples increased in the second half of 2019 and rose nearly four times between 2018 and 2019.

In the fourth quarter, the spread between the multiples of listed mid-market eurozone companies (8.6x) and unlisted companies acquired by strategic buyers (10.7x) remained significant, demonstrating the momentum of the unlisted market since 2018 and the support it is receiving from the microeconomic context:

  • Investors are increasingly drawn to unlisted assets.
  • Acquirers, be they funds or large corporate buyers, have easier access to credit.
  • The number of acquisition opportunities in the very-competitive mid-market is limited.

European M&A activity continued to slow in 2019 despite a jump in the fourth quarter.

Mid-market M&A activity in the eurozone increased by 30% in the fourth quarter, both in value and volume terms, driven by large, listed companies, which remain very active in this market. Listed companies, which accounted for 65% of the strategic buyers in the second half of 2019, continue to be flush with record levels of cash; according to Moody’s (1), these levels have increased by 20% since 2013.

(1) Non-financial companies in the EMEA region had accumulated €1,085 billion in cash as of the end of 2018 (Source: Moody’s in Les Echos, Sept. 10, 2019)


Coralie Cornet
Communications Director
+33 1 53 67 20 63


Argos Wityu (https://argos.wityu.fund) 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 €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 comparables, 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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