Judging from this year's list of MDM's top 10 most-read news stories, it's no wonder that distribution executives listed merger & acquisition activity as a key trend to watch in 2015. All 10 of the articles on the list involved M&A, whether it centered on a sale, spinoff or speculation or suspension of a potential deal.
Sonepar's purchase of IDG was the most-read news story in 2014, but deals involving other big names in distribution – United Stationers, Grainger, Fastenal and Kaman, among others – also made the list.
Here are the Top 10 distribution news stories from 2014:
1. Sonepar to Acquire IDG
Sonepar North America, a subsidiary of the privately held France-based Sonepar Group, acquired Industrial Distribution Group, a portfolio company of LKCM Capital Group LLC headquartered in Belmont, NC. MDM ranked Sonepar USA as the largest U.S. electrical distributor with 2013 revenues of $7.7 billion and IDG as the 22nd largest industrial distributor in the U.S. with 2013 revenues of $734 million.
2. Epicor Sale Suspended by Apax Partners
Apax Partners suspended its search for a buyer for ERP software provider Epicor Software Corp., according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. Apax reportedly began seeking buyers in May.
3. United Stationers Agrees to Acquire MEDCO
United Stationers (NASDAQ: USTR), Deerfield, IL, acquired MEDCO, a U.S. wholesaler of automotive aftermarket tools and supplies, and its affiliates including G2S Equipment de Fabrication et d’Entretien ULC, a Canadian wholesaler.
4. Acklands-Grainger Agrees to Acquire WFS Enterprises
Acklands-Grainger, Toronto, Ontario, agreed to acquire WFS Enterprises Inc., a distributor of tools and supplies to industrial markets in southern Ontario and in some locations in the U.S.
5. AEA Investors Agrees to Acquire Gypsum Management and Supply Inc.
Gypsum Management and Supply, Inc., Tucker, GA, distributor of wallboard, acoustical and other specialty building products in the U.S., agreed to sell a majority equity stake to AEA Investors LP. GMS operates in 30 states through more than 140 branch locations.
6. Industrial Distribution Group Makes Two Acquisitions
Industrial Distribution Group Inc., Belmont, NC, distributor of MROP products and integrated supply solutions, acquired Tommy White Supply Co. and the Industrial Division of Duncan Co.
7. Fastenal Acquires Aerospace Distributor Av-Tech Industries
The Fastenal Company (NASDAQ: FAST), Winona, MN, acquired certain assets of Av-Tech Industries, a wholesale distributor of aerospace fasteners, electronic components and miscellaneous aircraft parts.
8. Blackstone Agrees to Buy Gates Corp. for $5.4B
Private equity funds managed by Blackstone agreed to buy Gates Corp., a manufacturer of power transmission belts and fluid power products. Blackstone paid private equity firm Onex Corp. and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board about $5.4 billion for Gates.
9. Kaman Distribution Group Agrees to Acquire B.W. Rogers
Kaman Distribution Group, the distribution segment of Kaman Corp. (NYSE: KAMN), Bloomfield, CT, acquired substantially all the operating assets of B.W. Rogers Company, Akron, OH. Kaman Distribution President Steve Smidler said the company would be used as the platform for further expansion of its fluid power business.
10. Apax Partners Seeks Buyer for Epicor
ERP software provider Epicor Software Corp., Austin, TX, was put up for sale by private equity firm Apax Partners, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. Apax reportedly hired Jefferies Group LLC to seek buyers.