France's leading strategy consulting firms for private equity

09 July 2019 6 min. read

With deal activity at a high in France, in the slipstream of Europe’s hot market for mergers & acquisitions (M&A), French private equity firms are increasingly turning to external dealmakers to bring their deals to a successful close. New analysis of client ratings reveals France’s top strategy consulting firms to the private equity sector.

Aided by capital superabundance and high demand for inorganic growth strategies, global deal value jumped to $3.4 trillion last year, according to an analysis by Bain & Company, the third highest level noted in the past two decades. Despite a drop in the volume of transactions, Europe saw a double-digit upshift in deal value, on the back of strong M&A fundamentals. 

Private equity firms – companies that leverage their financial muscle to take stakes in companies/start-ups with the aim of selling that stake for more 3-6 years down the line – are a growing force in Europe’s merger & acquisition landscape. Bain estimates that nearly $1 trillion in value was closed by the upwards of 1,200 financial sponsor firms currently active across all corners of the globe. 

In France, Europe’s third largest economy, the picture is no different. The country is according to research firm Preqin home to over 220 private equity firms, the second largest amount in Europe, behind the UK, but ahead of Germany. Demonstrating France’s importance on the European stage – since the turn of the decade, France-based private equity managers have accounted for almost 16% of all funds raised across Europe. Among the country’s largest private equity firms are well-known players such as Ardian, PAI Partners, Bpifrance, Access Capital Partners, LBO, Astorg Partners, Idinvest Partners, Apax France and ACG Capital.

Leading strategy consulting firms for private equity in France

In their M&A endeavours, private equity firms are advised by a number of external advisor groups, including bankers, corporate finance advisors, consultants specialised in strategy and transaction advisory, lawyers and tax experts. These external experts are in fierce competition for working on the largest, most prestigious or game-changing deals in the market, with track record and reputation – alongside the obvious personal network –determining which advisors are selected to perform the job. 

Top strategy consulting firms

Strategy consultants play an integral role in mergers & acquisitions, responsible for aspects such as strategic planning, commercial due diligence and business case planning. When it comes to tapping strategy consultants, according to a new survey of services quality and company reputation among decision-makers (consultancy buyers) and consultants, private equity firms are most satisfied with a select group of 25 strategy consulting firms. 

According to the researchers from Magazine Decideurs, a French publication for leaders, a group of five global strategy consulting leaders are at the industry’s forefront. The trio of American strategic consultancies of McKinsey & Company, Bain & Company and Boston Consulting Group are a household name in the space, and also the three largest strategy consulting firms overall in France. Sitting in between the MBB are two European players: L.E.K. Consulting (founded in the UK) and Roland Berger (founded by namesake Roland Berger in Germany).

Leading strategy consulting firms for private equity in France

The quintet are followed by four companies that have their services ranked as ‘excellent’ by clients. Notably, all four are French players and all four are based in Paris. Advancy was founded in 1999 and has a network of some 220 consultants across seven locales, Advention Business Partners has a team of around 60 consultants across seven offices globally; Emerton is a firm with around 50 consultants that specialise in strategic services; while Estin & Co was established in 1997 and operates with five hubs globally. 

A group of eight consultancies follow suit. A.T. Kearney, Arthur D. Little, OC&C Strategy Consultants, Oliver Wyman and Strategy& are all big names in the global consulting industry, and operate across industries. In France , they all have a strong presence, albeit within a certain niche. Oliver Wyman for instance is strong in financial services and retail, among others, while OC&C Strategy Consultants is a leader in the media and telecom, consumer goods retail and education sectors. Arthur D. Little meanwhile focuses on high tech sectors, while in private equity A.T. Kearney is a frontrunner in operational due diligence.

Established in 2013, Archery is a strategy consulting firm that focuses exclusively on three industries (aerospace & defence, transport & logistics and energy). Paris-based CMI Stratégies has a team of around 30 consultants, of which a significant amount work for its private equity group, while Indefi is a strategic and corporate finance firm dedicated to the private equity industry. The firm recently supported deals completed by the likes of Arkea Capital, Galinea Capital, Naxicap Partners, Paluel Marmont Capital and Weinberg Capital Partners. 

Other consulting firms that made the list of France's leading strategy consulting firms for the private equity industry are AlixPartners, Corporate Value Associates (CVA), Kea & Partners, Simon-Kucher & Partners and PMSI Consulting.