Livingbridge-backed Catalyst merges with Sionic Advisors

  • Mar 2019
  • Business Services
  • M&A: Buy-Side
  • UK
  • US
  • Trans-Atlantic
Catalyst Development has merged with Sionic Advisors

Livingstone’s Business Services sector team has advised London-based Catalyst Development, an award-winning financial markets consulting firm, on its merger with global financial services specialists Sionic Advisors. The deal will create one of the world’s largest and fastest growing specialist consulting firms, operating with a fully internationalized platform for their global client base. Following the merger, Catalyst will have a combined revenue of over $60M and more than 300 professionals based in a dozen locations.

Backed by investment from private equity firm Livingbridge since 2017, Catalyst specializes in regulatory-driven change, organizational improvement and talent development programs for global financial institutions. Since its foundation in 1994, Catalyst has worked with more than 70 clients in over 30 financial centers worldwide, including nine out of the world’s top 12 investment banks, and has mentored more than 250 of the most senior figures in financial markets.

Sionic delivers change, optimization and strategic initiatives to a wide range of financial services institutions from bases in more than eight countries. This merger follows Catalyst’s acquisition of asset and wealth management specialists Knadel in February 2018.

The combined business now plans to accelerate its growth of ‘specialism at scale’ in response to client demand. Global spend on financial services consulting in 2018 was £38bn, up from $17bn in 2008, with 8–10% average forecast growth. Over 70% of that spend relates to technology, operations, risk and regulatory compliance and change in banking, capital markets and insurance in North America, Europe and Asia: exactly the combined firm’s key areas of expertise.

This is the third deal Livingstone has advised Catalyst on, having supported their growth strategy since the 2017 buy-out backed by Livingbridge, the subsequent acquisition of Knadel in 2018 and the merger with Sionic.

Catalyst Group CEO, Andrew Middleton, comments: “This is a transformational merger that will create a world-leading specialist firm. Sionic has highly regarded expertise in our core banking market, enabling us to scale our delivery of complex assignments for clients globally thanks to their leading position in the US and Canada.”

Sionic Co-Founder and Group CEO, Craig Sher, added: “This is a perfect match. We’re known as experts in our field and as fast-growth disruptors of outdated models of consultancy.  Like Catalyst, we deliver measurable value and best-in-class change services in control and governance, regulatory change, operations, risk, finance and technology. We’re looking forward to working together to expand our services and reach to create an even bigger and better firm for our clients, staff and investors alike.”

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  • "The Livingstone M&A and Debt Advisory teams played a key role in supporting Livingbridge and the Catalyst team throughout this complex cross-border transaction and we highly value their ongoing advice and execution support."
    Pete Clarke, Partner, Livingbridge

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