U.S. staffing industry M&A activity declined significantly in the second quarter of 2020, as COVID-19 related shutdowns greatly impacted the staffing ecosystem. The number of completed staffing M&A transactions in the near term will continue to be adversely impacted, as many deal processes have been delayed.
Even before the pandemic, many of the U.S. public staffing companies were absent from notable M&A activity, as staffing industry acquisition activity remains primarily driven by private equity-owned strategic buyers seeking to scale their existing platforms to create value for subsequent exits.
Strategic buyers accounted for 83% of the staffing industry acquisitions in the first half of 2020, with private equity funds (financial buyers) investing in new platform acquisitions accounting for the other 17% of transactions.
– Private equity acquired 10 new platform staffing investments in the first half of 2020. This follows the 65 new platform investments in the staffing industry made by private equity from 2017-2019.
Companies in the professional staffing sector appear to be performing the best through the COVID-19 pandemic, while industrial staffing providers appear to be experiencing the sharpest revenue declines. Our conversations with potential buyers and sellers suggest that after the worst of the COVID-19 crisis passes, staffing M&A activity may recover fairly quickly, as there is no shortage of active buyers in many segments of the staffing industry.