The last few years has seen a step-change in appetite for ESG-led consultancy services.
Regulatory change coupled with pressure from stakeholders has expedited corporate spending on sustainability consulting.
According to Verdantix, the sector is estimated to grow 27% annually between 2022 and 2028, increasing from US$11.5 billion to US$49 billion.
Europe will see the fastest growth, at 29% annually, with North America and APAC not far behind; while services around corporate reporting will be most in demand, as directives across Europe and the US roll out over the next few years.
Catering to such demand, a growing list of corporate sustainability and ESG consultancies – large, small, general, and specialist – are turning to acquisitions as they look to bolster their reach, expertise, and capabilities.
Among acquisition announcements in recent weeks, Sphera, the leading provider of ESG performance and risk management software, is boosting its capabilities in tracking and reporting Scope 3 with the acquisition of SupplyShift.
While Apex Group has launched an ESG advisory unit built with MJ Hudson, a data and analytics company it acquired last year.
But it is global sustainability specialist Anthesis Group’s growing acquisition spree – over the last year especially – that has really got heads turning.
Billed as the world’s largest pure-play sustainability advisory and solutions firm, the fast-growing London-based company has pulled off six acquisitions since June 2023 – when private equity investor Carlyle took a majority stake in the firm.
Revolt Deal Marks 22nd Acquisition for Anthesis in 10 Years
The acquisition of sustainable business transformation-focused consultancy Revolt London is the latest in a string of deals that sees Anthesis boost its expertise – and create “one of the leading purpose, brand activation, communications, reporting and strategy teams globally”.
According to Anthesis CEO Stuart McLachlan, the acquisition provides the firm with “world-class expertise and experience in purpose consulting, strategy and communication” enabling the merged company to help clients “manage risk and find value for our clients in their transformation journeys.”
This latest deal marks Anthesis’ 22nd acquisition since inception a decade ago – and adds to the Group's global offering, as it responds to the demand from the C-Suite unlock sustainable growth opportunities.
Rise of the Anthesis into World-Leading ESG Advisory
Established in 2013, and growing upwards of 20% in revenue annually, Anthesis bring together a growing team of more than 1,250 experts (activators) across 45 offices in 23 countries, from China to Colombia, Sweden to South Africa – to support more than 4,000 clients in setting and achieving their climate change goals.
From multinationals like Amazon, Unilever, Cisco, Tesco and Target, to financial and government institutions like Network Rail, the Group works with cities, companies, and other organisations from Australia to South Africa to develop financially driven sustainability strategies underpinned by deep technical expertise.
Experiencing rapid growth across its global customer base and network in recent years, Anthesis has built deep and broad expertise in analysing, designing and cementing impact-led sustainability, ESG and net zero programmes.
As CEO McLachlan puts it: “Anthesis is uniquely positioned to provide the holistic solutions the market demands, harnessing its advisory, digital, carbon, and communication skills in response to regulatory and stakeholder pressures.”
Anthesis Acquisition Strategy Delivers New Business Solutions
Marking a transformational year of growth, 2023 saw Anthesis build on its ESG portfolio and geographical reach with five key acquisitions – providing the advisory with greater expertise and new business models and solutions to meet increasingly demanding ESG and sustainability goals.
The acquired businesses spanned several new geographies and included supply chain consultancy, carbon offsetting, branding and marketing.
- Progressive – acquisition of London-based bespoke growth and innovation consultancy brings offices in San Francisco, London, Singapore and Australia, multinational clients across sectors, and expertise to empower clients to “unlock
- ConTREEbute – acquisition of Colombian sustainability and offsetting consultancy significantly expands Anthesis’ presence in Latin America, with 70 staff in two offices. The merger bolsters Anthesis capabilities with an ESG data-focused SaaS tool that enables organisations to integrate sustainability into their business strategy
- Ndever Environment – acquisition of one of Australia’s leading sustainability advisory firms gives Anthesis a foothold in Australia with five offices and an extended presence in APAC with clients including Toyota, BHP and Rio Tinto.
- Wallbrook – acquisition of this global ESG advisory brings focus to the G in ESG, adding regulatory, ethics and anti-corruption expertise along with offices in London, LA, Hong Kong, New York, Singapore and Zurich.
- Charlescannon – acquisition of this impact-led creative change agency, located in Geneva, further establishes Anthesis in the Swiss market and bolsters its communications capabilities – bringing to the team exceptional talent in translating the science and analytics into a brand strategy that drives impact and changes behaviours – especially crucial given the greenwashing accusations that are so rife.
Describing the firm’s approach to portfolio building through M&A, in a recent webinar, Tristan Craddock, Global M&A Director at Anthesis said: “Our acquisition strategy has never been a Godzilla business that tried to stack volume – but rather everything we’ve invested in and partnered with has filled a strategic ned and there’s a gap for those businesses to thrive.”
B Corp Anthesis Setting Example of Sustainable Action
As well as supporting clients in the transition to sustainable performance, Anthesis practices what it preaches – first achieving B Corp status in 2021 and signing the B Corp Climate Collective to support climate emergency actions.
Anthesis has also set a science-based target (SBT) through the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) and rolled out a global people system, enabling employees to collaborate more effectively and have visibility of their development progress.
Anthesis established partnerships with Take Action Global (a climate education charity) and other local charities to engage employees in conservation and biodiversity work.
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