European private equity firm Cinven today announces that it has agreed to invest in Visma AS ('Visma' or 'the Group'), a leading software and business process outsourcing (BPO) services business in the Nordic region, valuing the business at a total enterprise value of NOK 21 billion (€2.5 billion).

Following this investment, Cinven, HgCapital and KKR will be co-lead investors each with a 31.3% shareholding in the Group. Shareholders will also include Nordic institutional investors Ilmarinen and Storebrand, along with Visma management.

Visma delivers enterprise resource planning (ERP) software and services including accounting, tax and payroll applications and services to over 340,000 SME customers, retailers and local authorities across the Nordic region. The Group is the Nordic leader in the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) business model which allows companies to shift from traditional 'on premise' software to online cloud-based applications.

In 2013, the Group generated revenues of NOK 6.5 billion (€778.5 million). Since 2010, revenues and EBITDA have grown consistently at a CAGR of 16% and 18% respectively. Established in 1996, Visma is headquartered in Oslo and operates in 12 countries across Northern Europe. It employs more than 5,600 people.

Cinven's TMT team regards Visma as an attractive investment on the basis of:

  • Its delivery of mission-critical software to a wide customer base through a subscription-based model with high recurring revenues;
  • Its market leading position in the Nordic region with the opportunity for further organic and acquisitive growth;
  • Significant growth potential in SaaS as companies migrate their legacy applications to improve business administration and process efficiencies;
  • The ability to boost growth through continued R&D investment, accelerating customer migration from legacy to SaaS and developing new functional services.

The management team will continue to be led by Øystein Moan, Chief Executive, who joined the Group in 1997 and has led Visma to become one of the most innovative companies in the Nordic region.

On the Group's new share structure, KKR will sell down from 76% but will retain a significant ownership of 31.3% in the business.  HgCapital, which has 16% of the shares now will sell out, but will reinvest through a new fund bringing its shareholding to 31.3%. HgCapital and KKR will partner with Cinven who will also hold 31.3% of the shares. The Visma management will own 6% of the shares. Several Nordic investors will co-invest with the private equity investors.

David Barker, Partner at Cinven, said:

"We are excited to be backing a first class management team as they execute a strategy for further growth from SaaS penetration in the Nordic region. Visma represents a great opportunity to invest in a highly cash generative and stable business with strong organic and acquisitive growth prospects. We believe that the ERP software market is highly attractive and we have been following Visma for a long time."

Chris Good, Principal at Cinven, added:

"Visma is a regional champion at the forefront of the technological shift transforming the global software sector. We believe the Cinven team is well placed to support the Group through its next stage of growth, particularly given our track record of investing successfully in technology-driven companies including Amadeus, Host Europe and CPA Global."

Øystein Moan, Chief Executive, commented:

"Our company has become a real Nordic success story. We have built a strong track record of consistent high revenue and profit growth, supported by product innovation including cloud-based business solutions and E-government solutions. Such a journey is not possible without the right shareholder base and support. I strongly feel that the mix of private equity investors and the Visma management team serves us very well in the realisation of our ambitions."

Visma represents the eighth investment from Cinven's Fifth Fund. Completion of the transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals.

Advisors to Cinven on this transaction included: OC&C (commercial); E&Y (financial); Deloitte (tax); Freshfields and Thommessen (legal).

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