Incoming CEO Brent Baxter on What’s Next for ACG
Incoming CEO Brent Baxter discusses what's next for ACG
In this special episode of GrowthTV, we welcome ACG’s incoming CEO, Brent Baxter.
Baxter is a veteran of middle-market M&A, with 25 years of sell-side and buy-side advisory experience and more than 200 transactions with a combined value of over $1 billion under his belt. He has also worked closely with ACG for the past several years, serving as finance chair and chairman of the board, among other roles. He comes to us from Nolan & Associates, where he has been managing director since 2019.
Baxter joins GrowthTV to share his thoughts on the deal market, his plans for ACG and what gets him most excited about his new role.
A full transcript of the conversation is below.
Carolyn Vallejo: First tell us a little bit about why you wanted to step into this role and what you’re most excited about.
Brent Baxter: Well, as you mentioned, I’ve had an almost 25 year relationship with ACG, and as an investment banker ACG has been invaluable—maybe essential—to any transaction that I’ve been involved in.
And I’ve built countless incredibly valuable relationships through those many years of ACG. As you mentioned, I was also privileged to serve on the Board. I served in the Executive Committee for nearly six years—two years as Finance Chair, and four years in the Office of the Chair, and one year as Chair of the Board.
It’s an organization I know so well. It’s an organization that I owe a lot to, and it’s an organization that I have such belief and confidence in. And I am just elated to be selected for this role.
CV: We’re all very elated as well. Do you have any plans for specific ACG products that people should know about?
BB: Well, yes, that could be a very long run-on sentence! First ACG is in a wonderful place right now. As I think many of our folks know, we just achieved a record number of total members. Our chapter system is strong and capable of executing growth. And even though we have very, very significant market share in certain member segments, we have enormous room for growth.
Middle-market private equity is a huge area of ACG, but there’s probably 40% of that market that is not yet deeply engaged in ACG. When we talk about corporate acquirers, even though we have as many corporate members as we do private equity members, we probably have a tenth of that market. ACG is the right organization for all of those types of constituencies. We have the best-in-class law firms, accounting firms, service providers, and those folks will help us build an even larger constituency.
With our media properties, we’ve tripled the scope of our media outreach in the last three years. Our digital and print publications touch hundreds of thousands. And thanks to you guys, our GrowthTV has probably exceeded 2 million views. That’s incredibly exciting.
And to go on: GF Data is the source for accurate middle-market information. It’s essential to understand transaction volumes, transaction valuation, debt leverage, cost of capital, what drives a quality company—and we’re going to grow that.
CV: Definitely. Now, you’re coming to ACG from Nolan & Associates, an investment banking firm in St. Louis. Could you tell us a little bit about what you’re seeing in this deal market right now, and how you hope that ACG can help middle market M&A professionals better navigate it?
ACG is always the ante in the game. You have to be engaged in ACG to know what’s going on in these markets, to have those referrals, to see what’s happening in the investment banking community, to see where our lenders are. It’s just a vital, vital resource.
BB: Sure. Nolan, as a boutique investment banking firm, we’re not a barometer of the entire market, though we’re very robust. We’re having a wonderful year, but we can certainly see caution in owners worried about a recession. We certainly see caution in the buyer community concerned about interest rates and the cost of capital. There’s diminishing worry about recession, but it’s still there, and so anytime there’s caution, there’s caution. Sellers become cautious and sit on the sidelines.
The reverse side of that is, as our data would say from GF Data, transaction activity is still very, very strong, particularly for a quality asset. So anytime an owner or a private equity firm has quality asset, those are coming to market, and those are getting very, very robust levels of activity.
I think over the next few months as the economic uncertainty settles, we’re going to see transaction volumes return, and we’re all going to be crazy busy. And ACG is always the ante in the game. You have to be engaged in ACG to know what’s going on in these markets, to have those referrals, to see what’s happening in the investment banking community, to see where our lenders are. It’s just a vital, vital resource. Up or down, middle or sideways, please be engaged with ACG.
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