Alta Communications has acquired Yankee Group, the telecom-focused research and advisory firm. Alta is a private equity firm specializing in investments in the media and telecom industries. Seller Decision Matrix Group was another private equity company that had Yankee long enough to get a taste of the research and advisory space and learn how difficult it can be to find roll-ups and build scale in a market that’s pretty mature. Decision Matrix acquired the firm from Monitor Clipper Partners and other investors, which in turn acquired it from Reuters in May 2004.
We believe Alta is likely a better fit. While it doesn’t have the experience of running a research business, at least it knows the telecom market, and it has brought in a well-credentialed CEO in Emily Nagle Green, former CEO of Cambridge Energy Research Associates and, prior to that, a top officer at Forrester Research. At some point, however, the chain of private equity ownership is going to have to be broken as a private equity buyer will want to find its exit. That exit might be difficult in the next couple of years, as a bunch of private equity firms are all seeking exits for their business information properties - the latest hot-ticket items in their portfolio. At some point there will be a glut and valuations will be harder to come by. Meanwhile, we believe Yankee has found as good a home as it’ll likely find for a while, with a solid leader who can settle things down in a firm that has gone through so many "parents" in recent years.