Mergers and Acquisitions, Mergers and Acquisitions, MSP

MSP M&A: Cogent Growth Partners Advises on 60 Deals

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Sixty deals in six years. That's the latest scorecard at Cogent Growth Partners, a buy-side merger and acquisition (M&A) advisory firm that assists IT services providers and MSPs.

Cogent's latest engagement involved Aldridge's buyout of Arterian and PacketDrivers --  two Seattle-area IT service providers. Cogent worked behind the scenes, advising Aldridge on the simultaneous acquisitions. ChannelE2E heard about the deal on February 8, and Cogent emerged as part of the official deal announcement on February 9.

George Sierchio
George Sierchio

Aldridge has been an active Cogent client for more than four years, but piecing together the Arterian and PacketDrivers buyouts was the "most complex deal" for the M&A specialist to date, according to George Sierchio, VP and senior partner at Cogent, who led the transaction process.

As part of the agreement, PacketDrivers founder Scott Hamlin will lead Aldridge's Seattle-area operations, while Arterian founder Jamison West will focus full-time on a cloud services initiative. That cloud effort, managed under the Arterian brand, will seek to build managed and cloud services atop Office 365 and Azure.

Cogent's Background

I've tracked Cogent off and on since about 2012. My first interactions involved David S. Schafran, who has since moved on to Aldridge Health. More recently, I've had some back and forth with Sierchio. We expect to connect for a deeper dive on M&A trends over the next few weeks.

Many MSP M&A advisors have come and gone, but I think Cogent's clear focus explains the company's staying power. As I've written over the years:

  • Cogent client companies are "typically closely held or family run businesses with revenues between $5 million and $100 million, most of which are in the $10 million to $40 million range, with some who are much larger subsidiaries of public companies or private equity firms," the company says.
  • Cogent only advises buy-side MSPs. In other words, Cogent avoids the temptation to play both sides of the table, and never advises sell-side companies.
  • Cogent has actually declined consulting engagements that involved questionable M&A deals. If Cogent doesn't see potential synergies in the deal, the consulting firm typically does not engage the opportunity.

So what's next for Cogent? Surely, more M&A negotiations and management, though many of the dealings will typically remain confidential. And stay tuned. We'll do a deeper dive conversation with Sierchio and his team in the next few weeks.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.