United States

McGladrey Survey Private Equity Optimism Growth Set Stage for Increased Deal Making

Deal-making risks, including lack of IT due diligence during acquisitions, remain


CHICAGO, IL – Private equity firms are in a state of growth and considerable optimism, according to newly released results from the 2013 McGladrey Private Equity Survey. The survey, which includes responses from 125 private equity firms, shows that more than three-quarters of respondents (77 percent) are optimistic about their own economic conditions, with 20 percent reporting a neutral outlook and only three percent reporting that they were "not optimistic."

"These survey results clearly indicate that private equity firms are regaining confidence," said Don Lipari, national leader – private equity services for McGladrey. "These firms have exited companies they could, held tight to existing portfolios and taken advantage of obvious cost-cutting opportunities. Now, having spent several years cautiously watching for signs of an economic turnaround, they are enthusiastic about growth opportunities in the year ahead."

Despite growing optimism, the survey does suggest that firms remain cautious about the economic conditions around them, with less than half (48 percent) reporting optimism about the global economy. The cautious sense of optimism about the external economic environment was also apparent when respondents indicated which external factors were having a high impact on their portfolio companies' performance. While more than half of the respondents indicated that typical factors such as "market conditions" and "energy costs" had a high impact, a relatively small number (16 percent) chose international economic factors. At the same time, a smaller but still considerable number of respondents pointed to policy matters such as regulatory compliance (30 percent), taxes (29 percent) and health care costs (15 percent).

With a potential surge in M&A activity on the horizon, the survey also sheds light on some of the risks and barriers firms must confront while managing their portfolio investments. While respondents reported running into a wide range of issues, the survey revealed a particularly notable – and surprising – series of challenges related to IT infrastructure. Specifically, more than one-third of the respondents indicated that they "always" or "usually" find portfolio companies to have outdated business applications, infrastructure limitations, inadequate business analytics, and inadequate web and e-business capabilities. In each case, the number of respondents who said they "sometimes" encountered these problems was also more than 50 percent.

"While a solid IT infrastructure is widely recognized as a 'must' in the corporate world, these survey results indicate that private equity firms have yet to make IT due diligence a 'must' when targeting acquisitions," said Dave Noonan, national director – private equity consulting, with McGladrey. "The deficiencies respondents reported finding post-acquisition could interfere with a firm's ability to execute its plan and result in substantial capital outlay; if combined, they could cripple an investment. That's why it's crucial for firms to not only conduct an IT review during the due diligence phase of acquisitions, but that they also review existing investments to plan appropriately for add-ons, carve-outs and exits."

Read the McGladrey Private Equity Survey for more details.

Survey Methodology
The 2013 McGladrey Private Equity Survey is an annual survey of private equity firms sponsored by McGladrey LLP, the leading U.S. provider of assurance, tax and consulting services focused on the middle market. The survey, which was conducted by the research unit of Mergers & Acquisitions publisher SourceMedia, was fielded between mid-January through mid-February, and includes responses from 125 private equity firms (in the United States).

About SourceMedia
SourceMedia, an Investcorp company, is a leading provider of timely and essential news, analysis, research, data and insights for members of the financial services community, and related fields in professionals services and technology. SourceMedia offers it clients and subscribers publications and online information services, industry-standard data applications and in-depth seminars and conferences.

About McGladrey
McGladrey LLP is the leading U.S. provider of assurance, tax and consulting services focused on the middle market, with more than 6,500 professionals and associates in 75 offices nationwide. McGladrey is a licensed CPA firm, and is a member of RSM International, the seventh largest global network of independent accounting, tax and consulting firms. For more information join our Facebook fan page at McGladrey News, follow us on Twitter @McGladrey, and connect with us on LinkedIn, and/or on YouTube.

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