BCMS software clients – where are they now

BCMS software clients – where are they now

Article

BCMS software clients – where are they now

Jonathan Dunn
March 2019

BCMS has advised on the sale of more than 100 technology businesses over the years, including more than 50 software developers covering fintech, lawtech, proptech and IoT among other industries. Here we examine the rationale behind some deals and look at what happened next.

PIONEERING FINTECH – TEMENOS ACQUIRES FE MOBILE

FE Mobile founder and Cambridge engineering graduate Phil Sorrell invented arguably the world’s first secure, downloadable, mobile banking app back in 2002.

After a lacklustre response from UK retail banks to adopt mobile banking, FE Mobile moved to a global licensing model, partnering with Temenos and Misys to sell into developing countries – where mobile banking was rapidly gaining traction.

In 2010, BCMS advised FE Mobile on its acquisition by Geneva-based banking software group Temenos. Phil stayed on for three years before starting his latest venture Fintech-Labs. 

 

SAAS FOR SCHOOLS - IRIS ACQUIRES RESULTS SQUARED

The owners of school/parent messaging app developer Results Squared (RS) chose the perfect time to seek an exit, as the sector was starting on a rapid cycle of M&A consolidation.

With a SaaS-based offering, nearly a decade of trading, and around 10% of UK schools as clients, BCMS generated very strong market interest from big names and investors. After further negotiation, the vendors agreed a sale to IRIS Software Group in May 2017.

IRIS had recently moved into education with the acquisition of school finance platform PS Financials, and saw the RS suite as highly complementary to PS, allowing it to build a broader product suite in a fragmented market.

IRIS has gone on to acquire RS rivals Parentmail and Contact Group to build its market share up to 30%, including 60% of school academies.

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CLINICAL SOFTWARE – INDIGO 4 SYSTEMS ACQUIRED BY EMIS

Digital health middleware developer Indigo 4 Systems was born from the 1997 management buyout of a healthcare messaging system and switched to developing solutions that help clinicians and specialists digitally store, share and save patient records.

With its three core products widely used across UK pathology and radiology departments, Indigo 4 attracted several seriously interested parties before the shareholders sold to EMIS Health in 2014.

EMIS’ strategy has been to offer fully integrated patient care platforms across the healthcare system, and Indigo 4’s suite was combined with the £57m Ascribe acquisition months earlier to broaden its portfolio – another complementary software acquisition.

Today, Indigo 4 has been rebranded and incorporated into Ascribe in EMIS’ Health division.

 

EMBEDDING IOT SKILLS - MPC DATA SOLD TO BSQUARE

Wiltshire Internet-of-Things (IoT) integrator MPC Data realised it would need to scale up to keep pace with market developments when the market for connected devices took off.

Advised by BCMS, the three founders agreed a sale to NASDAQ-listed BSquare Corporation in 2011. The Washington DC firm had been authorised as a Microsoft embedded distributor in Europe the year before and had started searching for expertise to hire.

BSquare CEO Brian Crowley said at the time: “We did this knowing that key to our success (in EMEA) would be the addition of a deeply technical team that understands what it takes to bring smart, connected devices to market.”

The scale-up worked. MPC was renamed BSquare EMEA, staffed up and relocated to larger premises in Trowbridge, while one of the shareholders stayed on to run the new UK operation.

Although this example is an integrator rather than developer, this deal highlights the value of a highly-skilled team during the business sale process.

 

PRODUCTIVITY SOFTWARE ATTRACTS GIANTS - PREACTOR GROUP SOLD TO SIEMENS

With 20 years of industry experience, 70 employees and deployment at 4500 sites around the world, production planning software developer Preactor’s owners had just received the latest in a line of unsolicited approaches when they decided to act.

Former client Mike Novels recalls: “The board of directors were nearing retirement and needed an exit strategy.”

“We received an unsolicited approach from a company, which gave us a valuation close to the figure we had set ourselves as a target. However, having never sold a company before, we felt we needed professional help to get the best combination of price and acquirer.”

After generating offers from several interested parties, Preactor was sold to Siemens in 2013. Once again, the acquisition is highly complementary, with Preactor’s APS application filling the gap between factory/warehouse scheduling and despatch. In addition, the suite can be used standalone or integrated with other platforms.

For Preactor of course, the tie-up opened up access to Siemens’ enormous industrial customer base and global reach. Today, Preactor forms part of Siemens’ PLM division.

The board of directors were nearing retirement and needed an exit strategy.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • While software acquisitions are largely driven by a desire to own complementary IP, a skilled team can be equally as valuable.
  • There are clear benefits in joining a larger group, from customer acquisition to staff career development
  • Multinational acquirers are interested in buying software SMEs, but professional advisors are recommended to level the playing field during negotiations.  
  • Browse other completed technology deals advised by BCMS