Is Rollins for Sale?

I wasn’t going to comment on the latest Rollins rumors, but given that I’ve received scores of calls from clients, institutional investors, hedge funds, industry magazines and the financial press, I guess it’s time for me to say something. 

Last week, Bloomberg published a brief article, the relevant snippet is below:

(Bloomberg) — Rollins Inc., a pest-control services provider, is exploring strategic options including a potential sale, according to people familiar with the matter. The Atlanta-based company is working with financial advisers, said the people, who asked to not be identified because the matter isn’t public. The company has not yet launched a formal auction and Rollins could opt to remain independent, they said.

A representative for Rollins didn’t immediately respond to calls seeking comment.

In my experience, Bloomberg is not typically wrong. I think that ROL likely engaged Goldman Sachs. However, we should all keep in mind that most publicly-traded businesses engage investment banks, and most investment banking engagements are not M&A related. 

Given that the Rollins family — through individual holdings and the holdings of the family trust owns more than half of the Company — the most likely reason for Rollins to engage financial advisors is for family estate planning purposes. 

Gary Rollins (CEO) is in his 70s, and Randall Rollins (Chairman) is pushing 90. Further, the family just settled the lawsuit related to the family trust last fall, where over $2 billion in Rollins equity was in question. If there were ever a time to seek outside advice and move shares around, it would be now.

Of all of the different “options” that Rollins might be thinking through right now, there is one, and only one option that would absolutely require the company to engage a financial advisor and that is a block sale. 

If, say, the family trust wanted to sell $2 billion in Rollins stock, it couldn’t just open up an Ameritrade account and sell that stock. The sale of that stock would be an off-market transaction (known as a block sale) whereby an investment bank sells a block of stock (a minority interest) in Rollins to a buyer (perhaps a large asset management firm, or a sovereign wealth fund). 

A block sale is a privately-negotiated sale of public equities, off exchange. Such sales typically have little, if any, impact on the stock price of the company in question. The Rollins family would need a financial advisor to execute this sale for them.

If there is any fire to this smoke, this is what I think is going on. 

I don’t see any industry or financial buyers attempting to acquire Rollins at what they would have to pay in order to get the deal done.

Could the Rollins family have tired of their business being a publicly-traded company and want to take it private? Sure, that’s a possibility. But the most likely explanation here, and the simplest one is the family has privately engaged financial advisors to execute on their estate planning goals.

I don’t think that there is a whole lot to follow here with regard to the story. Just like Rollins corporate headquarters, it’s pretty boring.

We briefly discuss the situation here:

Right before the story broke, Jamie Clement and I did an interview where we discuss these and other topics. You can listen to that here or download it on Apple Podcast:

Certus Enters Arizona, Acquires Responsible Pest & Scorpion Control

The Potomac Company is pleased to announce the sale of its client Responsible Pest & Scorpion Control, to Certus. This transaction represents upstart Certus’s entry into the state of Arizona.

Founded in 1991, Responsible Pest & Scorpion is one of the oldest and fastest-growing pest control companies covering both the Phoenix and Tuscon metro areas. From 2011 to 2019 the Company grew at a 20%+ CAGR.

Paul Giannamore, managing director at Potomac commented: “Darin and David Huffaker have built a great company and were wonderful to work with. We’re beginning to see a shift in the competitive nature of the sale process from East to West, and if this sell-side process is any indication, it means that West Coast firms will likely begin to see the same multiples that their East Coast brethren have seen for the last two years.”

Responsible’s partner Darin Huffaker commented on working with Potomac:

When we were deciding if we wanted to sell the company, the obvious question was, do we use a broker or not. I did a lot of research on the different brokers and it seemed like Paul at Potomac had the greatest knowledge about our industry and the top buyers. To test the waters, I gave him a quick non-committal call and had a great conversation with him about his methods and the possible value of our company.

I was not disappointed. After a short conversation I realized my research was correct, he was very knowledgeable and I felt like he would be a great asset to help us sell. We went ahead with Potomac and his team. Franco and the other team members worked with us constantly to get all the data they needed to present our company to the top buyers. They worked with us on the timing, organization and everything. They also referred us to legal counsel that was amazing!!

As the sale of the company progressed, they were with us the entire way coaching us along and helping us gather any information that was needed. The transition was smooth and I believe we got the best buyer for our company.

I can’t say enough good things about the Potomac team. This was the second time we had sold a company. The first time we didn’t have a broker and it was very painful in comparison.

Responsible’s partner David Huffaker commented on working with Potomac:

One of our main concerns when engaging an advisor is who do you trust to help you. Having run a business for 20 years it has become obvious that whoever you choose can either make or break your deal. My brother Darin did a lot of research and proposed using Potomac because of their reputation and I would honestly say they easily exceeded our expectations. 

We used Potomac to help us in the sale of our pest control business and I don’t think we could have hired a better company. Our main interactions were with Paul and Franco–these two exceeded my expectations at all levels. It was obvious that Paul and Franco had been involved in more deals than most and had experience on their side which was greatly appreciated. Paul and Franco were both friendly and easy to work with–I can’t imagine that we could have hired a better company. I can only assume they are the best of the best! 

The Potomac Company acted as exclusive financial advisor to Responsible Pest & Scorpion Control. The terms of the transactions were not disclosed.

Potomac Pest Control Group Launches New Podcast – The Boardroom Buzz

The Potomac Pest Control Group Launches New Podcast, The Boardroom Buzz, Hosted by Patrick Baldwin and Paul Giannamore

An Ongoing, Board-Level Conversation Between a Pest Control Company Owner and His Advisor

May 14, 2020 —The Potomac Pest Control Group, valuation, strategy and mergers & acquisitions (M&A) advisors to the pest control industry, has launched a new podcast, The Boardroom Buzz, ( or on iTunes)

As the partner of Texas-based pest control company and a long-term client of Potomac, Patrick Baldwin has boardroom-level conversations with Potomac’s managing director, Paul Giannamore. 

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WEBINAR: AFTERMATH – Pest Control Valuations and M&A in a Post-Coronavirus World

The video below is a 20-minute clip of a 90-minute, invite-only / client presentation on valuation and M&A in 2020. It was presented on April 26th to Potomac clients. Unfortunately, the remaining 70 minutes are not available to those who are not clients of Potomac.

Q2 Commercial Pest Revenue Estimates Likely to be Cut by ~25% by Wall Street; ServiceMaster’s Black Wednesday – Pest Control Daily Market Update

Given the movement in the markets and the constant requests that we are receiving, Potomac will be providing a brief daily update for the time being on the pest control public and private market news.

1. Wall Street to Cut Commercial Pest Control Estimates Significantly

After speaking with several prominent wall street analysts, we expect to see some serious cuts in commercial revenue estimates for firms like Rollins and ServiceMaster. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Q2 2020 commercial revenue estimates down by a full 25%, maybe more.

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Commentary – March 13, 2020 — The PCT Top 100 Has Lost $2.5 Billion in Enterprise Value in 2020…Thus Far

Download a Reader-Friendly PDF Version Here

On September 12, 2019, I published the following in our exclusive publication for Potomac clients, Notes from the Front Line

“Last week I returned home from Stockholm after the closing of the $200 million sale of Nomor AB to ServiceMaster in what is likely the most expensive pest control deal in history. The head of M&A for ServiceMaster wrote to me: ‘Paul, you absolutely run circles around every other advisor in this industry and you should be proud of what you were able to do for your client. Over the last decade, you’ve been the architect of the highest priced deals for every acquirer out there. Which is why we hate you’ 

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Pest Control M&A Weekly Commentary – Jan 28, 2020 — The Beginning of the End? Pest Control Transaction Multiples Contract for the First Time in a Decade as ServiceMaster Hits the Skids

Download a Reader Friendly PDF Here

This story begins on the morning of October 22, 2019. My flight had just taken off and I nestled into my seat to try to get some work done. An email from Jamie Clement at Buckingham Research catches my eye; the subject line is: SERV: TIMBER!!!!!!!!!!! 

There is nothing in the body of the email. Damnit Jamie, what’s going on? 

Oh no… ServiceMaster pre-released, this isn’t good.

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Pest Control M&A Weekly Commentary – Sept 9, 2019 – ServiceMaster Enters Europe: Now the 4th Largest Pest Control Company in Europe w/ Nomor Acquisition

Left to Right: Paul Giannamore (Potomac), Tony DiLucente (CFO of ServiceMaster), and Svein Olav Stölen (CEO of Nomor).

Stockholm, Sweden
6 September 2019

Today I am writing this Commentary on the plane from Stockholm, Sweden to Geneva, Switzerland. As it was a very busy week last week, this week’s Commentary will once again be a short one… but an important one.

This afternoon we closed on the sale of our client, Nomor Holdings AB (“Nomor” or the “Company”), to ServiceMaster Global Holdings (NYSE: SERV) in what I believe is ServiceMaster’s largest and most important transaction since its IPO in June of 2014. It’s clearly the largest pest control transaction in Europe in recent history and one that will change the competitive dynamics on the continent for years to come.

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Pest Control M&A Weekly Commentary – Aug 26, 2019 – SvM Enters UK? Acquisition Spend Doubles in 2019, Potomac Completes 12th Transaction of the Summer

As you’ve noticed, the Weekly Commentary (my night job) has once again been forced to take a back seat to M&A (my day job). 

Over the course of the summer we’ve completed a dozen transactions and over the next few weeks we’ll be announcing approximately $300 million in global pest control transactions. We’ll start with a brief announcement today at the end of the Commentary.

Today’s Commentary will be very short and I will focus on what’s going on in the market today.

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Pest Control M&A Weekly Commentary – May 31, 2019 – A Rush for the Exits, Anticimex Acquires JP McHale, ServiceMaster Acquires Inspect-All

Potomac Opens an Office in Latin America

“You’re going to hurt sellers by calling the top of the market. Now everyone is going to rush for the exits and there will be a glut of sellers, pushing down prices. You need to think before you say things and how it will impact the market” said one unhappy pest control business owner to me in an email in response to this Commentary.

I am flattered that a reader thinks my words move the multi-billion dollar global pest control market, especially in light of the fact that I can’t even convince my wife where we should go out to dinner (let alone the other things I try to convince her to do). 

If I owned a pest control company and was thinking about selling it, I don’t think that I would be worried about a “glut of sellers.” 

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