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Top 25 Lower Middle Market Investment Banks | Q3 2023


Axial is excited to release its Q3 2023 Lower Middle Market Investment Banking League Tables. 

These quarterly league tables reveal the top 25 investment banks active on the Axial platform in Q3. In Q3, 571 sell-side investment banks and M&A advisors brought a total of 2,360 deals to market. Q3 2023 League Table recipients represented 102 of those 2,360 deals (4.3%) 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)

Just as in Q1 and Q2, Industrials was again the most active sector for deal flow, with 673 deals brought to market. Technology ranked 4th in deal flow but had the highest average pursuit rate, 8.76%, of all sectors. See below for the full Q3 deal activity overview on the Axial platform, and for a more detailed breakdown by industry, check out The SMB M&A Pipeline: Q3 2023.

Research Investment Bankers to Help Sell Your Business

Congratulations to Q3 2023’s League Table recipients!

Top 25 Investment Banks

Rank Firm HQ
1 Woodbridge International CT
2 True North M&A MN
3 Vista Business Group KS
4 Peakstone Group IL
5 Corporate Finance Associates – Houston TX
6 DelMorgan & Co CA
7 BMI Mergers & Acquisitions PA
8 Young America Capital, LLC NY
9 Bravaldo Capital Advisors GA
10 Stillwater Capital CAN
11 Kaulkin Ginsberg MD
12 Evangeline Securities LA
13 Brentwood Growth Corp NJ
14 McDonald Dalton Capital Partners TX
15 Fortunet ISR
16 Frontier Investment Banking Corp. KS
17 Bridgepoint Investment Banking NE
18 Kratos Capital TX
19 Sun Mergers & Acquisitions NJ
20 The Midessa Group TX
21 Ad Astra Equity Advisors MO
22 Polaris Healthcare Partners NC
23 Cascade Partners LLC MI
24 Bentley Associates NY
25 FOCUS Investment Banking VA

Honorable Mentions

Client Quality

Firm HQ
Salt Creek Partners TX
RigSide Energy Partners, LLC GA
VRA Partners, LLC GA
The Independence Group CA
Westlake Securities TX

Process Effectiveness

Firm HQ
Saleh & Company CAN
CRI Capital Advisors AL
Alden Advisors TX
Gleason Advisors PA
LB Transitions MN

Buyer Targeting

Firm HQ
JD Merit & Company WA
TEG Capital Advisors LLC TX
Argonite Partners OH
Purpose Equity SC
eAcquisition MI

Industry Specialists 

Firm HQ
IEI Advisors VA
American HealthCare Capital CA
New Direction Partners PA
The Dillard Anderson Group TX
Mertz Taggart FL

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

About the Top 25

“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.”

Visit Woodbridge’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

“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.”

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.”

Visit Peakstone’s Profile

“Corporate Finance Associates is an independent international investment banking firm serving lower middle-market businesses. For over 65 years Corporate Finance Associates has been advocating on behalf of business owners who are restructuring a company, either through divestiture, merger, acquisition or recapitalization. Combining the knowledge and leverage of a larger bank with the customer focused detail of a boutique firm, from inception to completion, our senior principals provide hands-on expertise to clients buying, selling or recapitalizing a business.”

Visit CFA – Houston’s Profile

“With over $300 billion in successfully completed transactions in over 80 countries, the professionals at DelMorgan & Co. provide world-class financial advice and assistance to companies, institutions, governments, and individuals in the US and around the world.

DelMorgan’s unique approach to business has grown out of its dedication to its core principles and the experience of its professionals over the course of decades working on some of the most challenging, most rewarding, and highest profile transactions. DelMorgan & Co. brings significant intellectual firepower to each client situation. We treat each engagement as a new and exciting opportunity to be capitalized on, never following a ‘standard approach’ but rather tailoring our approach to each situation.”

Visit Del Morgan’s Profile

“For over thirty years, our professionals have successfully engaged in the practice of buying, selling, and managing the business acquisition process. We have completed multi-million-dollar deals in many industries and successfully integrated businesses post-merger. Whether your business is worth $3 million or $100 million, this experience is put to work to achieve your desired result. Mr. Kerchner, Mr. Clark, Mr. Fay, Ms. Marlowe, and Mr. Tortora hold securities licenses Series 79 and 63.”

Visit BMI’s Profile

“Young America Capital leverages strong relationships with banks, venture-capital and private-equity funds, family offices, fund-of-funds, foundations, hedge funds, Fortune 500 M&A executives and large employers’ retirement systems to facilitate clients’ goals. Advisor to: Investment managers in the alternative-asset classes, including venture capital, private equity, and hedge funds. YAC provides advisory services in the areas of fund structuring, fund-raising/marketing, LP relations, and back-office operations.”

Visit YAC’s Profile

“Bravaldo Capital Advisors is a boutique Atlanta based Mergers & Acquisitions and Corporate Finance Advisory Firm, providing independent economic and financial advice and execution services for lower middle market companies with revenues typically between $10 million and $300 million that are primarily located in the Southeastern United States.

We offer a full range of transaction and advisory services, guiding our clients through sell-side transactions and exit strategy planning, growth through acquisition, debt restructuring and corporate recapitalization.”

Visit BCA’s Profile

“Stillwater is a leading North American Mergers & Acquisitions advisor. We help business owners develop and execute winning M&A strategies.

For sellers – we maximize shareholder value while minimizing uncertainty. For buyers – we source proprietary deals and negotiate transactions that achieve strategic objectives.

We have closed over 100 transactions throughout North America, in a variety of industries. Typical transactions are $2-10m EBITDA. As trusted advisors, we believe in a client-focused approach that is built on trust and discretion.”

Visit Stillwater’s Profile

“Kaulkin Ginsberg is the foremost M&A and strategic advisor to the outsourced business services industry with a focus on the accounts receivable management, revenue cycle management, and customer relationship management sectors. We also serve middle-market companies based in the D.C. region. Owners, executives, and professionals rely on us for the insight, access, and information needed to make critical decisions.”

Visit Kaulkin’s Profile

“Evangeline Securities provides investment banking services to lower middle market companies across a broad spectrum of industries. With offices in Lafayette and New Orleans, LA, the firm offers corporate finance, securities placement, M&A and restructuring expertise. Evangeline professionals bring their collective decades of experience to each assignment, having raised institutional capital and performed advisory services for deal sizes ranging from $20 million to over $200 million.

Evangeline Securities was formed by a group of top tier Wall Street professionals with the singular goal of providing the highest level of capital and advisory services. We guarantee senior level attention, a tireless work ethic and a creative, entrepreneurial approach to every transaction with the ultimate goal of building a long-term, successful relationship with our clients.”

Visit Evangeline’s Profile

“Brentwood Growth assists home service and facility management business owners wanting to sell all or part of their business. We assist in valuation, transaction structure, marketing the business, leveraging our network of institutional buyers and managing due diligence / legal process to close. Our fees are 100% performance based paid at close of transaction.”

Visit Brentwood’s Profile

“McDonald Dalton Capital Partners is a highly experienced capital markets firm with a focus on completing successful transactions for our clients. The partners have over 70 years of experience in:

  • Venture capital investments
  • Public capital market transactions and compliance
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Corporate growth financing

We have a commitment to excellence and a proven record in:

  • Raising capital for both early-stage and well-established companies
  • Maintaining confidentiality for our clients throughout the capitalization process
  • Maximizing valuations in many diverse transactions and capital structures
  • Negotiating advantageous terms and conditions
  • Providing expert guidance through the capital process to achieve our clients’ critical goals”

Visit McDonald Dalton’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.”

Visit Fortunet’s Profile

“Frontier Investment Banking is a leading, boutique investment banking firm focused on providing Merger & Acquisition, Corporate Finance and other advisory services to middle market companies and their owners. Frontier’s professionals have consummated transactions valued at approximately $10 billion.”

Visit Frontier’s Profile

“Bridgepoint Investment Banking is a market-leading boutique investment bank that serves clients over their corporate lifecycles by providing capital raising and M&A advisory solutions. Bridgepoint is a tenacious, creative and results-oriented boutique investment bank focused on impact and value creation for the companies we serve. We provide confidential, independent and unconflicted solutions and strategic advice. We have an unequivocal focus on our clients and their prosperity. We measure our performance by the long-term success of our clients.

Together, Bridgepoint principals have more than 360 years of investment banking experience, allowing us to provide our clients with Wall Street-quality experience and deep national and international funding and buyer connectivity. We have successfully moved more than $382 billion of capital across 475+ completed debt, equity and merger and acquisition transactions.”

Visit Bridgepoint’s Profile

“After a decade, we’re proud to say that Kratos Capital (KC) — ensuring that the same values, character and commitment to our clients still guide everything we do. Because we only answer to our clients, we’re free to focus on building long-term relationships and long-term value. Our investment bankers draw on the Kratos Capital way of nurturing enduring relationships, providing unvarnished advice and leveraging our principal mentality. We work with clients of all sizes in many industries in all parts of the country including South America and Canada.

KC is an M&A firm dedicated to ensuring our client’s goals and expectations are met, and often times exceeded. With over 100 years of combined experience in the M&A industry, we take pride in being experts at planning, facilitating, and executing exit strategies with extremely favorable results.”

Visit KC’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.”

Visit Sun M&A’s Profile

“The Midessa Group is a boutique M&A Advisory Investment firm headquartered in Odessa, TX. We specialize in selling lower to middle-market privately held companies with revenues between $5MM and $100MM in the Oil & Gas Services industry. We offer a complimentary discovery meeting and free opinion of value to our clients.”

Visit Midessa’s Profile

“Ad Astra Equity Advisors is a boutique merger and acquisition advisory firm located in the Kansas City area. We offer M&A advisory services as sell-side business brokers. We guide business owners through strategic planning, marketing, and closing of a deal to transition their company. Ad Astra has successfully closed a combined $320 million of transaction value between the team over the past 4 years.

Our team works with owners across the nation, of varying sizes, across several industries, with each owner having unique goals. We are well equipped to understand a business owner’s wants and needs . . . converting those goals into our unique deal process which becomes our roadmap to their ideal outcome.”

Visit Ad Astra’s Profile

“Polaris Healthcare Partners is a boutique consulting and M&A Advisory firm that focuses exclusively in the group dental practice space. We work with Founders to launch, scale and ultimately exit their businesses. Our guidance is based on decades of experience and the services we provide are unique solutions to the challenges our clients face.

In addition to educational courses, we develop robust financial models to create clarity around potential growth strategy. Our Earned Equity models for Associates are reverse-engineered and based off of Restricted Stock Unit (RSU) and Profits Interest Unit (PIU) frameworks found in larger, often publicly traded, companies. All of our clients are using bank funding to facilitate their growth, so we frequently assist in debt recapitalization and credit facility banking transactions. Finally, for those clients wanting to take some chips off the table, we provide sell-side advisory services through a marketed sales process to a financial or strategic buyer.”

Visit Polaris’s Profile

“Cascade Partners provides investment banking advisory services that are highly customized to meet our client-partners specific goals and objectives. Our advisory services include: – Mergers, Acquisitions, Divestitures, Restructuring, Performance Improvement, and Corporate Finance activities supporting businesses, shareholders, and operators focused on the middle market.

Each team member has a formidable combination of operating, investment, and transaction experience, which we draw on to address each transaction’s unique needs. This experience and our research-driven process allow us to partner with large public and entrepreneurial companies to effectively meet their global investment banking needs.

Our long-term approach allows us to serve as an unbiased resource to help management and shareholders understand their alternatives long before they need transactional services. It also enables us to understand each unique situation more deeply to help evolve our partners’ strategies and hit the ground running when a transaction develops. Cascade Partners is a licensed broker-dealer.”

Visit Cascade’s Profile

“Bentley is comprised of senior level investment bankers providing a full array of services to middle market and growth companies. Founded in 1990, our senior level investment bankers joined Bentley over the years from such firms as Bear Stearns, Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Nomura Securities, PaineWebber, Prudential Securities, Salomon Brothers, Schroders, Bankers Trust, Chase, Citicorp and J.P. Morgan. As a result, our investment banking capabilities are comparable to almost any major Wall Street firm.

With 27 senior level investment bankers, Bentley has assembled the “critical mass” of experienced professionals to meet the needs of our clients. Our investment bankers, typically with 15-25 years of experience, have executed a wide variety of transactions. Our clients are in many diverse industries, both domestically and internationally. In 2008 Bentley professionals worked with over 50 clients. As a result, our investment banking capabilities are comparable to any major Wall Street firm, with one exception — their higher overhead costs often preclude them from devoting their senior level talent to anything other than large, prestigious clients and transactions. Because of this key difference, mid-sized companies can expect superior results from Bentley.”

Visit Bentley’s Profile

“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.”

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.

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