Where’s the Deal Flow? (First of a Series)

With the first quarter of 2016 in the books, we kick off the second with a look at our Chart of the Week. Our content partners at Thomson Reuters LPC report middle market activity with sponsors slumped to $7.3 billion – the lowest level since 2010.

Anecdotally mid cap lenders confirm this trend. “We’re pretty slow right now,” said one regular player in the space. “It’s quiet out there,” agreed another. “And the stuff we’re seeing isn’t that interesting. Deal quality has definitely deteriorated.”

Yet in recent meetings with top-tier private equity firms, a more upbeat view emerges. “We’re seeing a record number of books this year,” a managing partner told us. “January and February are historically slow,” he said, “but not this year. There’s a lot of very aggressive bidding going on. But it does include some class B properties.”

This inflow of confidential information memoranda doesn’t always translate into meetings with potential sellers. “It’s not a question of stuff coming over the transom,” one PE principal said. “There’s plenty of that. The real question is, do you have an angle? Huge premiums are being paid out there. Can you compete at those levels?”