AlixPartners to acquire rival Zolfo Cooper's US operations

28 September 2018

Management consultancy has announced its intention to acquire the US operations of Zolfo Cooper, a boutique financial advisory and interim management firm. The deal will bolster AlixPartners’ prominent turnaround and restructuring business, while also eliminating a competitor in the space.

The transaction is the latest in series of moves which have led to a near total absorption of Zolfo Cooper by AlixPartners, a New York-based consulting firm best known for its leading turnaround and restructuring expertise. In 2015, AlixPartners acquired Zolfo Cooper’s European franchise, adding 200 advisors from offices in London, Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, and Glasgow. Then, in 2016, the firm also acquired the smaller Caribbean operations of Zolfo Cooper, adding 25 staff in the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands.

With the completion of the deal for the US business, the Zolfo Cooper brand will be reduced to its Asia business, based in Hong Kong and Shanghai. AlixPartners intends to retire the Zolfo Cooper brand from the international restructuring marketplace, according to their press release, though Zolfo Cooper in Asia will ostensibly remain.

All of Zolfo Cooper’s partners and staff – based out of offices in New York and LA – will join AlixPartners, with most swelling the ranks of its Turnaround and Restructuring (TRS) practice. The transaction will grow the global TRS team to 350 senior professionals, including 66 managing directors.AlixPartners to acquire rival Zolfo Cooper’s US operationsTogether, the expanded team will have worked on recent high-profile restructuring assignments like Avaya, Caesars Entertainment, Sabine Oil & Gas, and Westinghouse Electric Company. On completion of the deal, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter, Zolfo Cooper Managing Partner Joff Mitchell will become joint head of AlixPartners’ global TRS practice, co-leading with Lisa Donahue.

Both parties to the transaction stressed the well-aligned cultures of the two companies, an incredibly important factor in the successful integration of firms in the mergers and acquisition process, according to a recent report from Mercer.

“Their skills and culture are an excellent fit with AlixPartners and this transaction reflects our strategy of identifying high-impact, tuck-in acquisitions which deliver our clients immediate value while adding to our top quality talent base,” said AlixPartners CEO Simon Freakley. “As we continue to build our business by helping our clients contend with the most complex of problems, we will continue to identify and evaluate such opportunities across all areas of our global business.”

Joff Mitchell added, “For our people, joining AlixPartners affords access to the significant personal and career development opportunities available only at such a global and multi-faceted organization. We are exceptionally proud of what we have achieved as a market-leading boutique business, and now look forward to joining a larger organization with whom we have so much in common.”

The deal will strengthen AlixPartners’ turnaround and restructuring capabilities in a competitive marketplace where the firm competes not only with somewhat specialized turnaround, corporate finance, and legal consultancies like itself FTI Consulting, and Alvarez & Marsal, but also with the turnaround practices of the Big Three strategists (BCG, Bain, and McKinsey) and the Big Four accountancies (EY, Deloitte, KPMG, and PwC).

“This is an exciting time in the history of the firm,” commented Lisa Donahue, Global Leader of AlixPartners’ TRS Practice. “It’s not every day that you have an opportunity to combine two world class restructuring practices, and we feel tremendously fortunate to be in a position to make this happen.”


OneDigital buys Northwestern Benefit in company's largest acquisition yet

11 April 2019

Human resources and benefits consultancy OneDigital Health and Benefits has acquired Northwestern Benefit, the largest privately held benefits broker in Georgia.

Atlanta-based OneDigital has carried out an aggressive acquisition strategy in past years, completing 28 deals in 2018, as well as five in 2019 thus far. Its recent acquisitions have included consulting firms Paradigm Group, Cherry Creek Benefits, and Veritas Risk Services. OneDigital’s rapid expansion last year boosted annual revenue by $100 million in 2018, reaching $400 million.

OneDigital’s core offerings include strategic benefit advisory services, analytics, compliance support, human resources management technology, and insurance broking. The firm has more than 80 offices in the United States.

The consulting firm has continued its accelerated growth strategy with the purchase of benefits and HR consultancy Northwestern Benefit, which is also based in Atlanta. “This represents an exciting milestone for OneDigital, where our largest acquisition to date is also located right here in our home state of Georgia,” Adam Bruckman, CEO of OneDigital, said. “Northwestern lets us compete in the Atlanta benefits marketplace in an entirely new way.”OneDigital buys Northwestern Benefit in company's largest acquisition yetThe acquired firm was founded in 1996, and provides benefits, HR, compliance, wellness, education, and workforce planning advisory services to clients in George and across the US. Northwestern Benefit’s 150 employees will join OneDigital, bringing the firm’s headcount to over 1,600 employees, and its employer client count to approximately 50,000.

OneDigital’s chief growth officer, Mike Sullivan, highlighted Northwestern’s excellent sales culture and client service models as factors in the deal, while noting that the deal will significantly expand the firm’s middle market scale and capabilities. Sullivan expects more deals on the horizon, as OneDigital seeks to scale up further. “We expect north of 25 acquisitions again this year to bring us over the $500 million revenue threshold,” he said.

David Asbury, CEO of Northwestern Benefit, will join OneDigital as a senior managing principal. “As the benefits space continued to consolidate and we considered acquirers, it was incredibly important to me to find the right partner,” he said. “With OneDigital’s scale, reach and long-term vision, we knew our organizations would fit together and be stronger together right off the bat.”

As employment levels remain at record highs, employers are increasingly turning to effective and comprehensive benefits packages in order to attract and retain a dwindling pool of talent. HR and benefits firms help employers strategize the ideal benefits and compensation packages to get the talent they need, while doing so in the most cost-effective manner. “In a rapidly changing economy, an employer’s ability to attract and retain talent is often directly tied to the benefits they can provide, and OneDigital ensures we’re supplying our clients with the most robust health, wealth, and HR advisory services,” Bruckman said.