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PSA-TEC 2016 roundup: M&A trends; The cyber opportunity; Robots

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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

There was not a free chair in the Lakehouse conference room here at PSA-TEC in Westminster, Colo. yesterday afternoon during two panel discussions that addressed topics such as: M&A, cybersecurity and managed services.

John Mack Imperial Capital said that there’s been “more significant M&A activity in the past year than in the previous 30 years.” He called that “generally good news” and predicted M&A activity will continue. He noted that new entrants into the security industry are not “taking share away” from others. Rather, new entrants are helping the security industry grow, and they’re bringing “new and interesting technology.”

NetOne’s Dave Carter said the flurry of M&A can be a concern to NetOne if a member company (there are 28) is acquired by an outsider (as happened when Safeguard Security was acquired by SAFE)  However, that is not normally the case. “For our companies, in the regions they operate, they are the acquirers," Carter said.

Brent Franklin of Unlimited Technologies looks at all of the M&A activity as an opportunity. “While the big guys are turning the battleship in the dock … [Unlimited can] pop up into that space and serve their customers,” he said.

Carey Boethel of Securadyne agreed: “When big companies are consolidating and merging they focus strategies internally. …They take their eye off the ball.”

Michael Meridith of SEi concurred,  “customers fall through the cracks,” he said. And, there's more good talent looking for jobs, he added.

Jeff Nunberg of ISS pointed out that many of the recent buyers are venture capitalist firms who “expect a return on investment in three- to five years.” As they build a business, he said, they also “suck the live out of it … which makes it hard to deliver service.” In terms of vendor M&A, Nunberg said: “We have zero control over that,” so he does not worry about it.

All of the panelist admitted concern about cybersecurity—keeping their own companies and customers as safe as possible from a breach. A couple speakers also noted that most security installation companies are not taking cybersecurity concerns seriously enough. Those companies likely will not take it seriously until there’s an incident.

Imperial Capital’s Mack and Michael Kaiser National Cyber Security Alliance talked about cybersecurity as a possible money maker for physical security integrators.

Mack said adding cybersecurity services is a “huge opportunity for people in this room.” Small and medium-sized businesses “have a lot to do to better protect their information, data, and networks.” He suggested that security integrators partner with cybersecurity experts. That would make them very valuable to customers.  “When you upgrade physical security systems [for a customer] at the same time talk to them about how to update their information security infrastructure.” Mack said if he were to get back into the operations side of security, this is where he’d focus.

Kaiser agreed that “one of the biggest gaps in cybersecurity right now is the SMB … they’re not making cybersecurity a priority,” he said. They need a provider to help them “secure their network and their security devices.”

How should you educate yourself on cybersecurity? Attend the RSA show in San Francisco, Mack said. Do your homework about companies attending RSA. Many of them really want to know about physical security. “I guarantee you there will be guys who will be incredibly interested in talking to you," Mack said.

PSA Security is also an excellent resource to educate yourself on cybersecurity he said, noting that Andrew Lanning would be presenting the initial PSA Cybersecurity playbook at PSA-TEC on May 12. Here’s information on that presentation.

“Be part of the solution,” Lanning said.

Managed services make your commercial companies more valuable, Mack said. In addition, he said that acquirers are losing their appetite for security companies that derive all of their RMR from residential accounts. Buyers don’t like the high creation costs on the resi side and the “commoditization of residential security."

“There is no question if you show up [to sell your company] with more RMR, you have a higher valuation,” Mack said. “Guys who show up with a mix of RMR with a commercial focused business will be higher valued than the gyu with the same about of RMR from a residential business,” he said.

There is technology out there now that makes managed services much easier, Mack said. And the financing model for managed services is easier to manage than the model on the resi side. “You don’t have to go upside down on the direct labor and materials,” he said. “But the selling proposition to the customer and how you define that customer and sell to them has to be different,” Mack said.

He said it is probably a good idea to create a new division, or even a new company, to do managed services. Other speakers agreed.  

Robots were another topic of discussion at PSA-TEC. Sharp announced its new SRBD. Here’s a link to this story. A key SRBD executive—Mike Kobelin—is well known to PSA Security members and PSA-TEC attendees, as he is a former PSA board president.

One of the first people in the security industry to talk to me about security robotics was Joe Lynch of Minuteman. Here’s a story I wrote a couple years ago where I spoke to 10 top integrators about tech trends.  Scroll to the end to read Lynch’s remarks. One year after I wrote that story, I asked Lynch about aerial drones and he said there were many questions about legislation and regulation, an obstacle that PSA Security CEO Bill Bozeman told me will hold back development of that technology for the short term. I ran into Lynch today and asked him about aerial drones. He said he’s been able to figure out the FAA regulations and is optimistic about the possibilities. Minuteman owns an aerial drone and is using it in beta projects currently.

Ray Dean of ASI  was at the Sharp robotics press conference and was eager to know when the company’s product would be available.

Seqouin joins investment firm Raymond James

Raymond James expands security investment banking group
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10/09/2015

MEMPHIS, Tenn.—Raymond James has hired Stephan Segouin as a managing director in the firm’s Security, Defense & Government Services Investment Banking practice. Segouin will work with group co-head Alper Cetingok to provide a full range of M&A advisory and capital-raising services to companies in the global security sector.

Who will buy AlarmForce?

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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

AlarmForce, a super-regional security company based in Toronto, announced that its board of directors is taking a look at selling the company. The company has hired Imperial Capital to help it with a possible sale.

The company's market cap value today is listed as $135m and its enterprise value is $119m.

I asked Richard Ginsburg, former CEO of Protection One who is now managing partner at G3 Capital Partners, what he thought about the sale of AlarmForce. He said he thought the company is well run and that CEO Joel Matlin "has done a fabulous job of identifying a segment of the market open to value-oriented products (like their new video offering) at prices that are at or lower in comparison to traditional systems with basic offerings."

Ginsburg also said he believes "a company like AlarmForce is in a great position to compete with the likes of industry leader ADT and the emerging cable and telecom companies because of [AlarmForce's] single-minded focus on enhanced services like two-way voice and now video services." He added that he believes "some of the traditional companies are in a weaker position to compete in comparison."

Ginsburg predicted the company will get "good interest"  and said Imperial Capital has "formed a great niche in the M&A sector so they are a good choice [to help out with a sale.]"

The last time I spoke to CEO Joel Matlin was back in the winter of 2010 when he was opening a fourth office in Minneapolis/St. Paul.It has offices in North Carolina (opened in 2005), Ohio (opened in January 2006)  and it opened an office in Georgia in 2007.

AlarmForce does security alarm monitoring, personal emergency response monitoring, video surveillance for resi and commercial customers. Something that’s unique about AlarmForce is that it manufactures and installs its own two-way voice home alarm systems. When I did that interview, AlarmForce had 103,000 accounts in Canada and the U.S., which Matlin told me was up from 56,700 accounts in 2006. Today the number of accounts is closer to 125,000.

“Canada is a tough country to do business in. It’s got a population the same as the state of the California, but it’s spread out over a country that’s much larger than the U.S.,” Matlin said. In addition to dense population centers that are easier to penetrate, “the perception of crime is stronger in the U.S. than it is in Canada.”

Wonder who some potential buyers might be? One possiblitiy, in my opinion would be Stanley, which expanded its resi business in Canada last summer with the purchase of Microtec Security Systems. It got 80,000 accounts and additional bi-lingual monitoring capability out of the deal.

Or I suppose AlarmForce could be a bolt-on for a telecom that’s getting into the security business. Rogers Communications maybe? Here’s a video from the summer of 2011 where we talk about Rogers Communications working (in secret!) with iControl to get into the security industry.  And here’s a story about the deal.

AlarmForce board of directors has formed a committee of independent directors to supervise the strategic review.