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

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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

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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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Pest Control M&A Weekly Commentary – April 7, 2019 – Rentokil Acquires Mosquito Control Services, I Tried to Buy Rentokil North America, Q&A, Inside Paris

7 April 2019, Gulf of Suez, Egypt

It’s been a busy start to 2019. Multiples peaked in late 2018 and have remained relatively constant, drawing a continuous supply of sellers to the bargaining table.

As we rapidly approach the start of the pest control season in North America, I’ve received quite a few questions over the last few weeks as to whether or not I think that this market will continue to run. Given the fact that the ECB and the Federal Reserve have reversed course on monetary policy (i.e., they’ve finally admitted to the public that it’s impossible for them to tighten), my guess is that this buoyant M&A market will continue throughout 2019 unless we get a repeat of 2008. One thing I will say, it’s clear to me, through first-hand experience in dozens of emerging markets that global growth is beginning to slow.

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Pest Control M&A Weekly Commentary – January 21, 2019 – AX Buys Innovative, 2019 Outlook, Q&A, New Structure

A New Format for the Weekly Commentary

While I was back in the US in December, I had a dinner meeting with a client who said, “I would like to open this meeting with some criticism. I never miss an issue of your Weekly Commentary, but recently you’ve gone off the rails with your economic analysis. While I might not be the smartest guy in the industry, I consider myself smarter than most, and I wasn’t really sure what the hell you were talking about last month (in reference to this: Weekly Commentary November 5). Do you really think people in the pest control industry want to read about economics?” He might have a point, people in the United States Congress certainly don’t. Case-in-point, I just heard Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez on the news saying that the reason why the unemployment rate is so low is because people have two jobs, and they are counted twice.

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Pest Control M&A Weekly Commentary – January 8, 2019 – Over a Half Billion Dollars in Deals in 75 Days, Rollins Acquires Clark Pest Control, Gotta Kick Up Some Tribute to Uncle Paulie

In November, I “officially” called the top for the pest control M&A market for this cycle and in July I said that you would see over a half billion dollars of pest control transactions close by the end of the year. I undershot volume by at least $100 million and missed the timing by a month or so, but I was close.

December and January were extremely active months in the US pest control industry.

  • Rollins has officially entered into a purchase agreement to acquire Clark Pest Control of California, which is the 8th largest pest control company in the United States
  • Rentokil was busy in the US in the fourth quarter, which we’ll be talking about more later this month with an announcement.
  • Finally, the Anticimex crew caused me a lot of eye rolls from the wife with a New Years Eve closing, which we’ll discuss next Monday when I get back to my normal writing routine.

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Pest Control M&A Weekly Commentary – December 10, 2018 – Parasitec in Paris, Rentokil Acquires Vermont Pest Control, ServiceMaster Acquires Assured Environments

Potomac at Parasitec Pest Control Conference in Paris // Copyright The Potomac Company, LLC

10 December 2018
Paris, France ==> New York City

This week’s Commentary is going to be very short. I am back in the US and this is the busiest Q4 on record in the industry, so I don’t have much time to write. However, I received over 400 emails on my last two Commentaries with some great questions that I’ll be answering publicly next week (no, not all 400 of them).

I’m writing this on my way out of Paris, where I attended Parasitec, the Pestworld of Europe. For those of you who haven’t been, it’s similar to Pestworld except: (a) the attendees dress nicer, (b) they drink less, (c) there are no 58-year-old chemical reps making out with 30-year-old manufacturer’s reps at the Dolphin bar, and (d) the exhibition hall actually keeps normal hours. Other than that, it’s about the same.  [Read more…]

Pest Control M&A Weekly Commentary – November 5, 2018 – I’m Calling a Top, American Pest / Anticimex Acquires Triple S Services, Valuation Multiples Peak

7 November 2018
Stockholm, Sweden

Well, this is going to be a long one. 

I intended to write a short post-Pestworld piece, but I just had so much great material from Pestworld and the subsequent two weeks of meetings that this post has really taken on a life of its own.

I had meetings in Stockholm this week and now I am on the flight back to Switzerland — which is going to act as my tomato timer on writing this article. So, I apologize in advance if this one gets a little messy.

I am going to make a risky move and officially call a top in the pest control M&A market for this cycle. In doing so, I am going to attempt to provide you more fact than opinion and you can come up with your own conclusions. If I’m wrong, at some point, this will provide some great fodder for the glorified real estate agents out there.

But as usual, before we get to the juicy stuff, we’ve got some transactions to announce.  [Read more…]