Tenzing sells CitNOW to Livingbridge; Apax Partners buys Ardian’s majority stake in Opteven

Livingbridge to aim for organic growth and strategic M&A with CitNOW.

Morning Eurohubsters, Craig McGlashan here with the Dealflow.

We had some pretty big news on the take-private side yesterday, including what would be one of the biggest deals of the year, but the trend today has had more of a focus on exits.

Off ramp. Tenzing exited CitNOW, a UK-based provider of sales conversion software for car dealerships, on Tuesday after achieving a 9.6x return on its investment.

CitNOW, headquartered in Wokingham, made five acquisitions with Tenzing as an investor. US-based Quik allowed CitNOW to expand its global footprint and accelerate US expansion. Acquisitions of Web1on1, Reef Business Systems, Dealerweb and Tootle broadened CitNOW’s offering of products and services.

Livingbridge bought the stake from Tenzing.

“CitNOW Group is a fantastic business which has built a reputation for innovation and excellence in a large and rapidly evolving sector,” said Simon Peet, partner at Livingbridge. “We look forward to working with the team to further scale the business organically, as well as continuing to expand the range of solutions the group offers to its customers through strategic M&A.”

Swapping details. Sticking with the automotive theme, Ardian on Tuesday sold its majority stake in Opteven, a Lyon-headquartered provider of breakdown cover and roadside assistance, to Apax Partners.

Opteven operates in nine countries but has plans to expand into further markets in 2023. It has doubled its revenues every five years since it was founded in 1985 and this year launched a new growth strategy, Highway25. The strategy aims to address the needs of motorists in the coming years with the transition to electric, hybrid and biofuel powered vehicles at the centre, alongside digitalisation, the development of driverless cars and the growth of subscription models within the industry.

Under Ardian’s ownership Opteven tripled the size of its dedicated digitalisation team.

“We are delighted to have been able to work alongside Opteven’s teams,” said Marie Arnaud-Battandier, managing director within Ardian’s expansion team. “They have significantly developed the company by pushing forward the group’s global expansion and digitalisation, while continuing to provide high quality services and prioritising corporate social responsibility. We are pleased to pass the baton to a quality partner such as Apax Partners and we wish them great success.”

Balanced market? Despite the exits today, we’re hearing more and more that the landscape is shifting from a seller’s market to a more balanced outlook – or perhaps even more of a buyer’s market. We’re going to have more on that with an exclusive interview with a European fund head next week. But in the meantime, we’d love to hear whether you think a buyer’s market is coming.

Let me know your thoughts at craig.m@peimedia.com

Tech latest. Meanwhile, if you want to keep abreast of the very latest developments in the technology sector, then make sure you head over to PE Hub to read our US colleague Aaron Weitzman’s exclusive piece on Tower Arch Capital’s imminent majority investment in Intelligent Technical Solutions, an IT services provider headquartered in Las Vegas.

The article talks about the growing demand for providers of IT services to small to medium sized businesses. That’s a trend we’ve also touched on at PE Hub Europe a few weeks ago when I spoke to Gonzalo Fernandez-Albiñana, head of Ardian Buyout Spain, about Ardian’s purchase of Alicante-based telecoms services firm Aire Networks.

That’s it from me today – we’ll speak again tomorrow.