Michael Maxworthy, Marlin

Nov 23, 2018, 03:00 PM

What Are The Biggest Opportunities In Fintech M&A Right Now?

We’re back in the capital markets for this week’s Fintech Focus Podcast, and it’s a good one—perennial BZ Awards judge and partner at Marlin & Associates Michael Maxworthy joins us for an assessment of the state of fintech M&A.

Maxworthy’s firm has advised a number of fintech deals this year—most recently when digital banking startup Zenmonics accepted a minority investment from Fidelity National Information Services, Inc. (NYSE: FIS).

On How Fintech Has Changed From The Start Of His Career:

“In my mind, the fintech space has kinda had its ups and downs over the years, and I can go back all the way to the SIFMA conferences back in the late 90's, when proprietary data analytics and essentially database and content-type companies were all the rage. Well, guess what, they're back. If you can find a very hard-to-find dataset that's incredibly intensive to get a hold of, actually you can command a lotta money when you go out and either raise capital or you know maybe a Thomson Reuters or a Linedata or a SS&C or a Fidessa or somebody is coming to look at acquiring it. The harder it is, the more proprietary it is, the more people think they can get Alpha out of it, the more they're gonna pay for it.”

On What He Looks For In A Deal:

“When you do an M&A deal, and a lot of it just doesn't come down to the financials. A lot of it comes down to the strategic vision of the management teams coming together, the personality of the management teams coming together. The three, four, five-year horizon of where each kind of thinks where the combined business could go, that has a huge factor.

“In some of our cases when we do M&A deals, we advise buyer and seller to go out and have dinner, have drinks, without the bankers, without the lawyers involved. Look the guy in the eye, ask him some of the tough questions that you may have thought of during the management presentation and you just didn't get to, or maybe just didn't wanna bring it up in that environment. The bankers and the lawyers, we can sit here and we can financial model all day, and we can legalese as much as we want, but you really just have to have a meeting of the minds of the two businesses, otherwise essentially it's just gonna fail.”

On What Changes We’ll See In The Next 6-12 Months:

“Two things I'm probably going to see over the next six months to maybe a year. One is I think some of the bigger acquisitions are gonna start shedding divisions. So you're going to see a lot of divestitures, or the like, where maybe ICE doesn't need a certain division of IDC and they finally realized over the last couple of years that it's just something that they need to get rid of, and I think that there's a huge amount of dry powder in the private equity sector that are just waiting on the sidelines to dig into stuff like that. And that's my second theme, where a lot of these deals I think are gonna be in the lower end of the middle market, probably deal-flow or transaction size under half a billion, maybe under 750. And I think that there is so many overlooked businesses inside that space that there is a little bit of a feeding frenzy for good companies when they do come to market. So I suspect deal-flow will increase over the next six to nine months.”


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