One of the UK’s biggest software success stories is to be passed on in a £ 1.1 billion deal amid a bidding war – and it’s far from a bubble of FinTech and MedTech estimates.
Ideagen software helps companies follow rules and manage risk. It serves more than 8,000 customers, including Heineken, British Airways, the U.S. Navy, the Bank of New York and the European Central Bank.
Its client base includes seven of the UK’s top 10 accounting firms, three-quarters of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies and all the world’s leading aerospace and defense companies.
Ideagen is headquartered near Nottingham, but employs 700 people worldwide. Despite a large presence, RegTech, which is on the London list, does not capture headlines as aggressively as, say, UK digital banks.
If you’re a fan of Nottingham Forest – the club’s favorite CEO Ben Dorks – you’ve seen Ideagen sponsorship around City Ground. If you keep a close eye on the technical press, you may know this the company itself has bought more than 20 smaller firmss in recent years.
What makes Ideagen a real success is that this unicorn assessment is not based on repeated rounds of funding; rather, it has grown sales and profits for 12 consecutive years, including thanks to COVID. In the six months to the end of October, revenues amounted to almost £ 40 million, a significant increase of 33% – importantly, with 88% on a recurring basis – and a base profit of £ 13.2 million, up 32%. .
It is therefore not surprising that in April several grooms turned to the table. Following the tumultuous activity, Ideagen recommends to shareholders the offer of London-based private investment company Hg Pooled Management, which estimates it at 1.09 billion pounds.
Shares of Ideagen jumped 46% to 355 pence on Monday, which is above the price of the Hg offer, a counter-offer is expected from French rival Astorg, with which Ideagen continues to negotiate. London-based private investment company Cinven came out last week.
Speaking to BusinessCloud before approaching the acquisition, Dorks told BusinessCloud that “the acquisition process is much easier for the buyer than for the seller.”
“As a salesperson, you’re under a lot of pressure to keep your business going at this time, and provide a level of detail that you’ve never thought or thought about,” he said.
The CEO meant pressure on SME entrepreneurs who are acquired by large companies, not those who run multinational businesses, already with large teams behind them – but this gives an idea of his origins and thinking.
His own startup Plumtree Group was acquired by Ideagen in December 2012, a few months after the acquisition company was listed.
“One piece of advice I give to all salespeople is to make sure you have really good consultants who work with you and support you – because you will need them,” he said. “During the acquisition process, just agree that you have to pay someone 2-3% for being there – and it’s not legal advice, it’s a corporate finance person who used to sell the business.”
Dorks will serve as Director of Sales and Marketing and then Chief Customer before taking the lead.
“I am a very mobile person. I came to Ideagen as a place where I could build a career. I felt like the CEO who was here before me, David [Hornsby]that I could learn a hell of a lot from him – and I did, ”he said.
My philosophy has always been this: the moment David says he’s leaving, everyone in business and outwardly just says, “It’s going to be Ben, right?”
“I would always ask for more responsibility, more responsibility. And it just became a little inevitable that I would become CEO. But that was what I always wanted. “
His public plans for Ideagen earlier this year did not include takeovers. “We are just under £ 90 million [revenues] today. I expect that we will continue our strategy of double focus on organic growth and acquisition, ”he said at the time.
«Before Christmas we raised £ 100 million so we have a balance that supports us in further acquisitions this year. And I will be very disappointed if we do not significantly grow the business over the next 12 months.
“We are quite public about our vision: we want to become an ARR business worth £ 200 million by 2025, so the companies we are acquiring understand very well what part of them looks like. And this is a really important part of our goal and vision. “
Hg partners Christopher Fielding, Joris Van Gul and Jean-Baptiste Brian said: “We have long admired how Ben and his highly motivated team have turned Ideagen into a leader in their sector.
“We recognize that Ideagen is a global organization with stakeholders around the world, but with deep connections to the community and a strong local heritage.
“We firmly believe that the core of the business should be maintained at its base in Nottingham, including the executive team and the technology development center.”
The company recently partnered with the Nottingham Forest Community Trust to launch ‘Think Big’. Dorks expects the company to deliver presentations to about 8,000 children in schools this year, with the aim of encouraging them to pursue technological careers.
He says the connection with former European champions Forrest, who will play against Sheffield United in the first match of the playoffs this weekend, is leading to an increase in the number of business contenders.
“Building this business in my backyard, where I grew up, and being able to support the community in which I grew up is a very important reason why I still want to make this business a super-global success,” he said.