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Top 25 Lower Middle Market Investment Banks | Q2 2023


Axial is excited to release its Q2 2023 Lower Middle Market Investment Banking League Tables. 

These quarterly league tables reveal the top 25 investment banks active on the Axial platform in Q2. In Q2, 771 sell-side investment banks and M&A advisors brought a total of 2,647 deals to market. Q2 2023 League Table recipients represented 120 of those 2,647 deals (4.5%) in the quarter.

Axial’s league table ranking methodology (detailed methodology available in the footnotes) is driven largely by four factors:

  • Client quality (based on pursuits per deal and total recommended buyers)
  • Buyside targeting (pursuit rate per deal)
  • M&A Process effectiveness (ability to progress buyers from initial pursuit to NDA to CIM)
  • Deal outcome (IOI, LOI, and closure rates)

In Q2, the top 25 investment banks had an average pursuit rate of 10.92%, over 40% higher than the platform-wide average of 7.71%. The deals they marketed had an average revenue and EBITDA of $16,890,646 and $3,134,083, respectively. Those revenue and EBITDA averages are nearly 50% larger than the Q2 platform-wide averages.

Similar to Q1, Industrials was once again the most active sector of deal activity, followed by Food & Hospitality, Consumer Goods, and Technology. For a more detailed breakdown of Q2 2023’s lower middle market deal activity on the Axial platform, check out The SMB M&A Pipeline: Q2 2023.

Research Investment Bankers to Help Sell Your Business

Congratulations to Q2 2023’s League Table recipients!

Top 25 Investment Banks

Rank Firm HQ
1 FOCUS Investment Banking VA
2 ASA Ventures Group CO
3 Vertess Healthcare Advisors, LLC TX
4 Woodbridge International CT
5 Plethora Businesses CA
6 Murphy McCormack Capital Advisors PA
7 Merritt Healthcare Advisors CT
8 Vista Business Group KS
9 Peakstone Group IL
10 Meritage Partners, Inc. CA
11 Gleason Advisors PA
12 ACT Capital Advisors WA
13 Vercor GA
14 EBB Group TX
15 Sun Mergers & Acquisitions NJ
16 New Direction Partners PA
17 Marshall-Stevens CA
18 Cornerstone Business Services, Inc. WI
19 Madison Street Capital TX
20 True North M&A MN
21 Kreshmore Group IL
22 Fortunet ISR
23 CRI Capital Advisors AL
24 STS Capital Partners BRB
25 EC2 Finance CAN

Honorable Mentions

Client Quality

Firm HQ
FourBridges Capital Advisors TN
LB Transitions MN
PCE Investment Bankers FL
Paragon Ventures LLC PA
Groce, Rose & Moore, LLC SC

Process Effectiveness

Firm HQ
 JD Merit & Company WA
A Neumann Associates, LLC NJ
Peakview Partners CO
Brandywine Mergers & Acquisitions, LLC PA
Everingham & Kerr, Inc. NJ

Buyer Targeting

Firm HQ
Kratos Capital TX
Capital Canada Limited CAN
Potomac Business Capital MD
Tsalach Corporate Finance IL
Skyway Capital Markets FL

Industry Specialists 

Firm HQ
Brentwood Growth Corp NJ
M&A Healthcare Advisors CA
Wood Warren & Co. CA
Consensus Advisors LLC MA
Mertz Taggart FL

– 1 closed deal on Axial |  2 or more closed deals on Axial

About the Top 25


“With more than three decades of experience, FOCUS Investment Banking is a trusted name in M&A advisory services with a nationwide footprint and a global reach. Headquartered in the Washington, DC metro area, FOCUS also has corporate offices in Atlanta and the Los Angeles metro area. Its team of 35+ senior bankers is supported by more than a dozen analysts, senior advisors and support staff. Each FOCUS banker maintains a core practice in one of the 12 industry verticals comprising the firm’s current areas of specialization, keeping FOCUS abreast of developments in today’s rapidly changing market environments.”

Industries: Consumer Goods, Energy & Utilities, Technology, Industrials, Business Services, Manufacturing, Distribution, Health Care, Telecommunications, Consumer Services, Financial Services, Retail

Visit FOCUS IB’s Profile

“ASA Ventures Group (AVG) provides M & A representation to middle-market private companies. ASA has 25 years experience in Mergers, Acquisitions, and corporate exits.”

Industries: Manufacturing, Industrials, Materials, Technology, Business Services, Distribution, Health Care, Real Estate, Telecommunications

Visit ASA Ventures’ Profile

“VERTESS is a healthcare-focused Mergers + Acquisitions (M+A) advisory firm that helps owners increase their company’s financial value and negotiate the best price when they decide to sell their own company or grow through acquisition. Our expertise spans diverse healthcare and human service verticals, ranging from behavioral health and intellectual/developmental disabilities to DME, pharmacies, home care/hospice, urgent care, dental practices, life sciences, and other specialized services and products. Each VERTESS Managing Director has had executive experience in either launching or managing and ultimately successfully exiting a healthcare company.”

Industries: Heath Care, Life Sciences

Visit VERTESS’ Profile

“Woodbridge International has been closing lower-middle-market M&A deals for 30 years. We closed 32 deals in 2022 in various industries, including manufacturing, distribution, e-commerce, logistics, consulting and healthcare; generating $619 million in liquidity for our clients.

We do ground-breaking, confidential global client marketing. We create powerful marketing videos showcasing our client’s companies. We have an innovative 150-day timeline-driven auction that establishes a closing date upfront, and all clients attend a 2-day virtual, Management Meeting Training Program. We are a technology-driven, fully virtual firm. That’s why Woodbridge International is well-positioned to dominate the highly fragmented, underserved lower middle market.”

Industries: Manufacturing, Financial Services, Consumer Goods, Industrials, Materials, Technology, Energy & Utilities, Retail, Business Services, Distribution, Health Care, Consumer Services, Media, Life Sciences, Telecommunications, Real Estate, Financial Services

Visit Woodbridge’s Profile

“Plethora Businesses is a leading M&A Advisor for the lower middle market. We were formed in 1999 with the objective of creating a market place for buyers and sellers of privately held businesses. Throughout the years we have pursued this objective with constant vigor and dedication. We’re proud of our history, the relationships we’ve built and the hundreds of completed transactions and projects.

Whether an acquisition or merger, we believe these transactions are a significant milestone for every client. Each transaction helps to transform an individual’s life, create opportunities, transfer wealth and build upon prior success. We have fun doing what we do, enjoy the challenges, and find satisfaction navigating and completing complex transactions.”

Industries: Consumer Goods, Industrials, Materials, Retail, Business Services, Consumer Services, Media

Visit Plethora’s Profile

“Murphy McCormack Capital Advisors is a regional investment banking firm offering unparalleled expertise, advice and experience in the transfer of ownership within middle market privately-held companies. With offices and a team of professionals in Lewisburg, Harrisburg and Sayre, we are widely regarded as central and southeastern Pennsylvania’s leading investment banking and strategic consulting firm for mid-size companies.”

Industries: Distribution, Financial Services, Media

Visit Murphy McCormack’s Profile

“Merritt Healthcare Advisors (MHA) is focused exclusively on representing owners of surgical facilities, healthcare practices and other healthcare related sub-sectors that are considering strategic options, whether it is selling an interest in their organization, creating a new partnership or growing through acquisition.

MHA is unique in that we are the only firm that combines an investment banking background* with actual “owners” experience that comes from developing and managing our own healthcare facilities. We have used this experience to successfully complete more than $4 billion in transactions on behalf of our Clients.”

Industries: Health Care

Visit Merritt Healthcare’s Profile

“Vista Business Group is a leading mergers and acquisitions firm that specializes in connecting buyers and sellers of businesses in a confidential manner. Based in Kansas, we operate nationally, leveraging our extensive banking experience and in-depth knowledge of financing to provide a seamless transaction process for both parties involved. We are proud to have been ranked #16 on Axial’s “Top 25 Investment Banks of 2022″ list, further demonstrating our commitment to excellence in the industry.”

Industries: Consumer Goods, Financial Services, Industrials, Materials, Energy & Utilities, Retail, Technology, Business Services, Health Care, Consumer Services, Media, Real Estate, Life Sciences, Telecommunications

Visit Vista’s Profile

“The Peakstone Group is an investment bank that specializes in mergers and acquisitions advisory and capital raising for middle market clients. Our team is comprised of senior investment banking professionals and operating executives, all of whom have decades of experience and have executed hundreds of transactions totaling billions of dollars.”

Industries: Business Services, Consumer Goods, Financial Services, Food & Beverage, Health & Wellness, Healthcare, Industrials Manufacturing, Real- Estate, Retail, Tech Software/SaaS

Visit Peakstone’s Profile

“Meritage Partners is a multi-disciplined mergers and acquisitions advisory firm serving the lower middle market. Our advisors are made up of accomplished and experienced entrepreneurs with over 130 years of collective experience. Our team has advised on over $2 billion of successful transactions with private equity firms, high net-worth individuals, and public companies. Our clients are privately-held businesses in a variety of industries throughout North America.”

Industries: Manufacturing, Consumer Goods, Industrials, Technology, Retail, Business Services, Distribution, Energy & Utilities, Materials, Health Care, Financial Services, Life Sciences, Telecommunications

Visit Meritage Partners’ Profile

“When closely held, private companies have a need for financial advice – in seeking a liquidity event or when capital needs to be raised, for example – Gleason Advisors acts as a trusted partner to business owners and management. We provide valuable financial and strategic advice throughout the business life cycle.

Our service offering at Gleason Advisors allows us to work with businesses facing a wide range of issues and financial challenges. These situations often call on us to leverage our symbiotic relationship with the services of Gleason Experts, where we have deep expertise in forensic accounting, litigation support, and bankruptcy proceedings. Combined, these groups allow us to serve our clients as a more complete financial advisor. Providing value beyond dispute.”

Industries: Manufacturing, Consumer Goods, Industrials, Materials, Technology, Retail, Business Services, Distribution, Health Care

Visit Gleason’s Profile

“ACT Capital Advisors has facilitated the mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures of hundreds of companies. Our principals have closed mergers and acquisitions totaling over $2 billion in total corporate transactional value.

We work closely with our client’s financial and legal advisors. With multiple decades of experience, ACT’s principals have represented a diverse range of industries, including manufacturing, contracting, wholesale, distribution and service industries. Our track record of success has provided us with an understanding and appreciation of the unique challenges presented by each industry, and allows us to continue to best realize the goals of our clients.”

Industries: Consumer Goods, Industrials, Materials, Energy & Utilities, Financial Services, Retail, Technology, Business Services, Health Care, Consumer Services, Media, Real Estate, Life Sciences, Telecommunications

Visit ACT Capital’s Profile

“VERCOR, a leading middle market mergers and acquisitions firm, serves business owners who are interested in selling all or part of their company or who are seeking a private equity recapitalization. Our team manages the entire process – business valuation, assessing the market value of a company, pre-sale planning, marketing, negotiations, and closing the best possible deal. VERCOR brings national and international resources to the job of selling a business in the mid-size market. VERCOR merger and acquisitions consultants provide worldwide resources usually available only to companies with revenues in excess of $100,000,000.”

Industries: Manufacturing, Energy & Utilities, Technology, Consumer Goods, Distribution, Business Services, Industrials, Retail

Visit VERCOR’s Profile

“EBB Group is a national boutique investment banking firm that provides select financial advisory services exclusively to middle-market companies with enterprise values from $10-500 million. With our transactional expertise, capital markets experience, industry sector background, and valuation knowledge, EBB Group assists middle-market executives, directors and investors in assessing various strategic alternatives, which may include mergers/acquisitions, divestitures and capital enhancement transactions (e.g., securities offerings). Because of our selectivity in choosing engagements, we have an excellent track record of completing strategic transactions.”

Industries: Consumer Goods, Industrials, Materials, Business Services, Health Care, Manufacturing, Financial Services

Visit EBB Group’s Profile

“Sun Mergers & Acquisitions is a full-service professional business intermediary firm specializing in all aspects of the confidential sale, merger, acquisition and valuation of privately held mid-market companies with a primary focus in handling the sale of entrepreneurial and family held companies. Sun M&A brings extensive, broad based expertise, yielding the greatest probability of a successful sale with a maximum net after-tax yield.”

Industries: Industrials, Business Services, Distribution, Financial Services

Visit Sun M&A’s Profile

“New Direction Partners provides advisory services in investment banking, valuation, financial advisory and management consulting. Our partners have unparalleled experience, with involvement in over 200 sales and mergers since 1979. We specialize in providing services to the printing, packaging and allied graphic arts industries with an emphasis on mergers and acquisitions.”

Industries: Manufacturing, Business Services, Industrials, Media

Visit New Direction’s Profile

“MS Capital is a sister company to Marshall & Stevens, Inc. that provides M&A advisory, capital markets, corporate finance, and investment banking services to a diverse client base, including closely-held businesses, corporations, financial institutions, financial sponsors, hedge funds, and private equity groups in the Americas.

We are a nimble team with acute dedication and efficient process development for each one of our engagements, whether it be capital raising, sell-side mandates, or any financial & strategic advisory services benefiting our clients.

Our engagements span across multiple industries and investment stages with a majority of businesses closely held by their founders.”

Visit MS Capital’s Profile

“Cornerstone Business Services is a boutique investment bank serving the lower middle market, domestically and internationally for more than 20 years. We create value through acquisition, valuation and exit strategies, with a focus on businesses typically with annual revenue from $5 million to $150 million. Being one of the largest M&A firms in the Midwest focused exclusively on the lower middle market, we bring a team of specialist, our proprietary Assurance 360 process and the full benefits of being a founding member of the Cornerstone International Alliance to clients to achieve extraordinary results.”

Industries: Industrials, Manufacturing, Technology, Distribution, Financial Services, Health Care, Business Services, Consumer Goods, Life Sciences, Materials, Telecommunications, Energy & Utilities, Consumer Services, Media, Retail

Visit Cornerstone’s Profile

“Madison Street Capital is an international investment banking firm dedicated to the highest standards of integrity and professionalism – provides corporate financial advisory services, mergers and acquisitions expertise, valuation services, and financial opinions to publicly and privately held businesses through our offices in North America, Asia, and Africa. Our professionals draw on specialized expertise in partnering with middle-market firms in all industry verticals and niche markets to achieve an optimal outcome through a variety of transactions. Madison Street Capital’s professionals precisely analyze each client’s needs to determine the best match between buyers and sellers, arrange cost-effective financing, and produce capitalization structures that maximize each clients’ potential. Madison Street Capital is a trusted partner and industry-leading provider of financial advisory services, M&A assistance and business valuations.”

Industries: Manufacturing, Technology, Business Services, Energy & Utilities, Financial Services, Health Care, Industrials, Distribution, Life Sciences, Consumer Goods, Consumer Services, Telecommunications, Materials

Visit Madison Street’s Profile

“True North Mergers & Acquisitions advisors serve business owners from across the country who want to sell companies that generate annual revenue between $5 million and $150 million.”

Visit True North’s Profile

“As a leading firm specializing in lower-middle & mid-market mergers and acquisitions, Kreshmore Group provides a valuable resource for potential buyers seeking to acquire private companies in this market segment. KG’s industry experience encompasses a diverse and broad range of industry sectors within the USA. Kreshmore Group assists private sellers in achieving sale/recapitalization/divestiture goals by bringing buyers and sellers together.”

Industries: Manufacturing, Industrials, Consumer Goods, Distribution, Consumer Services, Financial Services, Materials, Real Estate, Retail, Health Care

Visit KG’s Profile

“Founded in 2018, Fortunet is a leading investment banking firm specializing in Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) transactions for premium E-commerce businesses & Amazon businesses.

Fortunet represents Amazon businesses, DTC brands, e-commerce SaaS and service providers such as agencies, all with a singular focus: maximizing outcomes for the client, with an unwavering commitment to the success of each and every deal.”

Industries: Financial Services

Visit Fortunet’s Profile

“CRI Capital Advisors, LLC is a mergers and acquisitions focused investment banking firm providing solutions to companies that are lower-middle market, and typically generating between $10 million and $250 million in annual sales.

We have experience across a broad range of industries including manufacturing, agriculture, healthcare, business services, and energy services, but our clients often hail from other niches, as well. Our entire business model is built around providing real solutions to business owners and executives. That means we do things a little differently than many other investment banks. Our firm is a registered Broker Dealer with the Securities Exchange Commission and a member of FINRA and SIPC.”

Industries: Manufacturing, Business Services, Distribution, Health Care, Industrials, Technology, Media, Retail

Visit CRI’s Profile

“STS Capital Partners is a global sell-side M&A firm like no other. They are expert guides for entrepreneurial business owners on the journey to achieving an Extraordinary Exit™. By helping clients sell their businesses strategically to the people that buy strategically, STS is able to achieve maximum financial valuation, create legacy potential, and realize true potential value.

STS’ services include divestitures, mergers, acquisitions, strategic consulting, and financial advisory for mid-market private businesses. Their extensive global relationships, world-class team, and proven deal process bring international strategic buyers and investors to the table.

The sell-side-only approach of STS enables them to target the right strategic buyers. The result is that they create more extensive and competitive multi-bidder soft auctions that deliver maximum financial returns.”

Industries: Financial Services, Consumer Goods, Energy & Utilities, Industrials, Materials, Retail, Business Services, Technology, Manufacturing, Health Care, Consumer Services, Distribution, Real Estate, Life Sciences, Media, Telecommunications

Visit STS Capital Partners’ Profile

“EC2 Finance is a Montreal-based M&A advisory firm. We advise Quebec business owners and entrepreneurs on their financial transactions (sell-side mandate, MBO & debt advisory). Our M&A team includes professionals with entrepreneurial and operating background as well bankers with extensive transactional experience. ”

Visit EC2’s Profile

League Table Methodology

Unlike traditional league table structures that have remained the same for years, where firms are assessed against deal activity and deal dollar volume, Axial league tables surface data on investment banks that reveal their client quality, ability to manage a sell-side process, and down funnel effectiveness for their client.

The investment banks at the top of the Axial League Table are leaders across the following categories:

  • Client Quality: Buyside demand for engagements represented by the advisor.
  • Buyside Targeting: The advisor’s ability to balance selectivity, accuracy, and breadth when identifying potential buyers.
  • Process Effectiveness: The advisor’s ability to generate positive outcomes for their client. 
  • Overall Deal Relevance: How many buyside mandates (financial and strategic) align with the advisor’s engagements.
  • Signed NDAs: How many buyers indicated interest in each of the advisor’s engagements, measured by the number of signed NDAs.
  • Shared CIMs: How many buyers received confidential information post NDA, measured by the number of CIMs shared.
  • IOIs Received: How many IOIs did the advisor receive from Axial Buyers.
  • LOIs Received: How many LOIs did the advisor receive from Axial Buyers.
  • Executed LOIs: How many deals the advisor successfully managed to take under LOI either with an Axial buyer or that were marked under LOI on the Axial platform.
  • Closed Deals: How many deals has the advisor closed where they involved an Axial buyer or that were marked as closed on the Axial platform.
  • Buyer Referrals: Feedback we received from buyers regarding the manner in which the advisor manages their processes.

Together, the top 25 investment banks are those who work with the most in-demand clients; balance breadth, selectivity, and accuracy in the buyers they engage; and generate the largest number of positive outcomes for their clients.

Axial is the trusted deal platform serving the lower middle market ($2.5-$250M TEV).

Over 3,500 advisory firms and 2,500 corporate and financial buyers have joined Axial to efficiently connect with relevant capital partners, source actionable deals, and build new relationships.

Visit the Member Closed Deals page to see selected transactions that have been sourced and closed via Axial.

Learn More      Become a Member

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