International private equity firm, Cinven, today announces that the Sixth Cinven Fund has agreed to sell group.ONE (‘the Group’), a leading European provider of online presence solutions via mass hosting and business software products to small-and medium-sized enterprises (‘SMEs’) and small-office home-offices (‘SOHOs’) through brands including, Hostnet and WP Media. Financial details of the transaction are not disclosed.

Headquartered in Sweden, group.ONE operates across a number of European countries and has strong positions in the Nordic and Benelux mass hosting markets, where it provides mission-critical subscription services to c. 1.6 million customers. The company has more than 650 employees.

The Sixth Cinven Fund acquired group.ONE (formerly in February 2019. Building on Cinven’s experience through its successful investment in Host Europe Group (“HEG”), a European provider of hosting and domain services, Cinven identified group.ONE as a high-quality business with potential for both strong organic growth as well as attractive buy and build opportunities. Leveraging Cinven’s TMT expertise and network, Cinven built a strong relationship with the group’s founder, Jacob Nordestgaard Jensen, ultimately becoming the preferred partner for the next phase of the company’s growth.

Working closely with group.ONE’s management team, Cinven has driven a comprehensive Value Creation Plan that has transformed the business from a traditional hosting and domain provider into a one-stop-shop for online presence solutions for SMEs. Key growth initiatives have included:

  • Driving new subscriber growth: building on group.ONE’s leading brands, a series of commercial initiatives have been implemented to drive continued subscriber growth, further supported by the ongoing digitalisation of SMEs;
  • Expanding the product offering: group.ONE’s offering has been expanded, with a full suite of new hosting and software products developed in-house leveraging group.ONE’s strong technology ‘DNA’ and intellectual property;
  • Extensive focus on data analytics to drive customer acquisition, engagement and retention: group.ONE’s data analytics capabilities have been significantly enhanced, facilitating an improved marketing and user engagement approach, resulting in more efficient new subscription conversion and improved existing customer retention; and
  • Successfully executing a buy and build strategy: In line with Cinven’s plan of using the original business as a consolidation platform in the fragmented European online presence market, group.ONE has made strong progress on its buy and build strategy, completing 10 add-on acquisitions under Cinven’s ownership.

As a result of the above and other initiatives, group.ONE has performed very strongly under the Sixth Cinven Fund’s ownership; EBITDA has more than trebled over the past four years. The business has proven resilient through the COVID-19 pandemic, benefiting from the shift to online and increased digitalisation among SMEs, as well as during the more recent economic and geopolitical uncertainty thanks to its recurring subscription model, its large and highly diversified customer base, and the mission-critical nature and low absolute cost of its offerings.

Stuart McAlpine, Managing Partner at Cinven, said:

“group.ONE was initially identified as an attractive opportunity by Cinven’s TMT team, leveraging its extensive experience in the web hosting and domain sub-sector through the successful Fifth Cinven Fund investment in HEG. This experience and expertise enabled the Cinven team to work closely with group.ONE’s management to accelerate organic growth and pursue targeted add-on acquisitions. group.ONE has performed very well under Cinven’s ownership; it is a great company, that is well positioned for further growth in the future.”

Stephan Wolfram, CEO of group.ONE, commented:

“group.ONE has achieved significant growth over the last four years. Working in partnership with Cinven enabled us to boost organic growth and to invest in our products and services for the benefit of our customers. Cinven has assisted group.ONE to evaluate M&A opportunities, completing ten acquisitions since Cinven’s investment in 2019 as part of its value accretive buy and build strategy,  helping to consolidate the fragmented market and expanding our geographical footprint and SaaS offering. We look forward to the next chapter of group.ONE’s growth journey.”

Completion of the transaction is subject to customary regulatory and antitrust approvals.