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 internationalised 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 specialises in regulatory-driven change, organisational improvement and talent development programmes for global financial institutions. Since its foundation in 1994, Catalyst has worked with more than 70 clients in over 30 financial centres 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, optimisation 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 that 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 have highly regarded expertise in our core banking market, enabling us to scale our delivery of complex assignments for clients globally thanks to their lead 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 We’re known as experts in our field and as fast-growth disruptors of outdated models of consultancy.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.”

Livingbridge Partner, Pete Clarke, commented: “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.”

Will Evans, Associate Director at Livingstone concluded: “We are delighted to have advised Catalyst and Livingbridge on this latest milestone in the Group’s development. The strategic fit with Sionic is compelling and gives the group an established international platform to deliver its growth strategy and support its clients on a global basis.”

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