The number of M&A deals for professional services firms rose from 76 in 2019 to 89 in 2020 – including 19 acquisitions backed private equity funds – with the appetite of PE houses for deals in the sector growing, says Mayer Brown, the global law firm.

Mayer Brown says the recent sales of the restructuring arms of Big Four accountancy firms KPMG and Deloitte have highlighted the increased interest in professional services firms from PE funds. KPMG sold its restructuring practice to HIG Europe, while Deloitte sold its restructuring practice to professional services platform group Teneo, owned by CVC Capital Partners.

Two of the biggest PE deals for professional services businesses in 2020 were for communications businesses. PR group Huntsworth was acquired by Clayton Dubilier & Rice for GBP514 million, while health communications consultancy Cello Health was bought by Arsenal Capital Partners for GBP175 million to add to its health-focused professional services platform Pharma Value Demonstration.

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