Inside NewSpring’s sale of Avantus Federal; a new home service deal from TSCP

TSCP-backed PestCo acquires Reliable Pest Solutions.

Good morning, dealmakers. MK Flynn here with today’s Wire.

Today, PE Hub is taking an in-depth look at NewSpring Capital’s recent sale of Avantus Federal to QinetiQ US for $590 million. And Buyouts has some interesting insights on how private equity firms are evolving.

But first, there are a couple of deal announcements worth mentioning.

Pest control. We’ve been reporting all year on the rise in PE transactions involving services for the home. Ever since the pandemic forced us all to stay home a lot, we’ve been taking better care of our domiciles, and private equity firms have noticed.

This morning, PestCo, which is backed by Thompson Street Capital Partners, said it has acquired Reliable Pest Solutions, a provider of commercial and residential pest control, for undisclosed terms. This is the eighth investment for PestCo, an acquisition company formed to consolidate the fragmented pest control industry.

Read Iris Dorbian’s coverage of the deal here.

Keep on adding on. One European deal of note: London PE firm Cinven’s Seventh Cinven Fund, in partnership with Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board, has agreed to acquire and combine two European online presence services, group.ONE (based in Malmö, Sweden) and dogado group (based in Dortmund, Germany).

The Sixth Cinven Fund acquired group.ONE (formerly in 2019. Under Cinven’s ownership, group.ONE completed 10 add-on acquisitions. The company’s EBITDA more than tripled over the past four years, according to Cinven.

For more details, see Nina Lindholm’s story here.

Inside the exit. And now for that in-depth look at a deal I mentioned. PE Hub reporter Obey Martin Manayiti has this story:

Rapidly acquiring small, founder-led defense and security companies, then putting them under a hyper-growing platform investment, proved to be a successful bet for NewSpring Capital, a Randor, Pennsylvania-headquartered private equity firm that in late November exited Avantus Federal for $590 million to QinetiQ US.

With nine acquisitions from 2018 to 2022, NewSpring grew Avantus’ headcount from less than 20 to approximately 1,200 employees. The average acquisition multiple was approximately 6.5x EBITDA and at exit, it earned 17.2x EBITDA.

“We found great companies that were doing one specific thing for the end customer, and we wove them together into one company that could provide complete solutions to the end customers in our market,” Skip Maner, NewSpring’s general partner, told Obey.

Avantus, based in McLean and Reston, Virginia, offers a suite of services within the defense and security sectors focused on cyber technologies and operations, data and software, digital engineering and integration, intelligence analysis and operations, space domain capabilities and advisory services, among others.

Using the analogy of an hourglass, Maner said the industry has a lot of big-name investors and many small companies but very few in the middle. The strategy for NewSpring was to create a force in the middle-market space.

Maner said most smaller and founder-led companies’ desire to grow is stymied by their inability to invest in the most advanced systems. “When we employ technology and world-class management on a combined larger company, it really creates great organic growth,” he said.

The first acquisition Avantus made under NewSpring was Sentinel in September 2018. It then added E3 Federal, Oasis, Data Works, Operational Intelligence, Lucid Perspectives, Mission Tech, Occam’s Razor Technology and finally, in May this year, Far Ridge Engagements.

Investing in national security was an exciting journey for NewSpring. “That’s an important endeavor,” Maner said. “Having a mission like that really helps attract employees that want to not only have a job but a job that matters for the national security of our country.”

Read Obey’s full story here.

High net worth. To meet the demands of the increasingly challenging fundraising environment, private equity firms are evolving in a variety of ways, including seeking new types of investors, reports Buyouts’ Kirk Falconer.

The demand-supply imbalance is likely to result in “a consolidation,” where “fundraising cycles will be elongated,” HarbourVest managing director Scott Voss told Kirk. Fund sizes may grow, “but they’re not going to grow at the same rate they did.”

“With US pension systems overallocated to the asset class, many of these firms have used big global platforms to scout around for alternative capital sources to make up the difference,” Kirk wrote. “One of the most cited alternative sources is high-net-worth investors. GPs are eyeing the massive untapped capital of wealthy individuals, who have traditionally been under-represented in private equity.”

Another alternative source is institutions that are not pensions, such as insurers. In November, KKR co-CEO Scott Nuttall said, “We’re spending a lot of time with institutions we’ve never spent time with before.”

Still another is overseas LPs. Blackstone sees foreign capital sources as providing a “terrific balance” at a time when US institutions are cash-constrained, CEO Steve Schwarzman said in October.

TPG noted a mix-shift in its LP base, which is “much more international this cycle than it was last cycle,” CFO Jack Weingart said in August.

“As 2023 promises to be another challenging year for fundraising, GPs of all types and sizes may have to brace for further changes in market dynamics,” Kirk wrote.

For the full story, click here.

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That’s all for now. I’ll be back with more tomorrow.