OpenGate will announce later today that its portfolio company ScioTeq, a designer and manufacturer of visualisation systems for the aerospace industry, has acquired rugged display manufacturer IRTS.
In an exclusive interview, PE Hub Europe caught up with OpenGate principal Xavier Lambert to learn more about the deal.
“IRTS is a quite local, very French business,” said Lambert. “While they have great product, they were lacking the resources to expand internationally. With ScioTeq sales networks, we’ll be able to grow IRTS’s product offering worldwide. It’s really a win-win for both companies.”
Based in Toulon, IRTS is a manufacturer of rugged displays and embedded computers for defence, aerospace and industrial applications. The company’s products are “mission-critical” in ground army vehicles and other military applications, according to OpenGate.
ScioTeq, acquired by OpenGate in July 2021, is headquartered in Kortrijk, Belgium, and designs advanced visualisation systems for the aviation, air traffic control, and defence and security markets.
“The platform, ScioTeq, is making a very premium product, and with IRTS we are now expanding the product portfolio,” said Lambert. One of these expansions to ScioTeq’s product offering is IRTS’s tactical video walls, which can be used in military command centres.
With ScioTeq, OpenGate has a “consistent ambition” to grow the platform via more acquisitions, with a particular focus on the US, according to Lambert. “We can do some additional acquisitions in Europe, if we find a company that complements the product offering in embedded electronics, but the focus will be on the US, where our largest market is.”
OpenGate had kept IRTS in its sights for some time, according to Lambert. “IRTS had been on our radar from the moment we made the acquisition of ScioTeq.”
Lambert described the 2021 ScioTeq acquisition as an opportunistic move for OpenGate. “ScioTeq was really the first aerospace and defence transaction we’ve made at OpenGate, even though our team has some experience in the sector.”
Los Angeles-based OpenGate’s interest in aerospace and defence was spurred by the industry’s long-term structural growth, decoupled from the global economic cycle, with some niche fragmented sub-segments requiring an in-depth understanding and expertise, according to Lambert.
While the sector was a bit of a dip into the unknown, ScioTeq had the “hallmarks of a typical OpenGate investment”. This meant going for a corporate carve-out, with the potential to utilise a buy-and-build strategy.
The acquisition of IRTS is the 13th add-on that OpenGate has made in the firm’s Fund II portfolio. The firm expects to see more add-on activity, due to many sectors being ripe for consolidation and market volatility ruling out larger deals. “When faced with macroeconomic uncertainty, we want to focus on what we know really well,” Lambert explained. “You want to go back to the fundamentals.”
This, however, will not stop OpenGate from seeking platform targets, said Lambert. “We’re obviously keen to continue to deploy from our fund number three, and to find attractive platforms that fit well with our investment strategy.”