Thoma Bravo closes EQS take-private

Battery Ventures to buy Ortec; LionRock’s Haglöfs plans.

Thoma Bravo’s decision to make a push into Europe with the opening of a London office received further vindication this morning as the tech-focused private equity firm completed its first acquisition in Germany, securing 98 percent of listed corporate comms company EQS in a €400 million take-private.

Elsewhere, we have an exclusive interview with Battery Ventures partner Zak Ewen about his firm’s investment in a Dutch company that unlike many tech businesses has managed to grow over four decades to include several blue-chip customers without private equity or venture capital financing – until now.

We then switch to the consumer sector, which has had a solid start to the year deals-wise, as Nina Lindholm hears from LionRock Capital’s Tom Pitts about the firm’s growth plans for outdoor clothing company Haglöfs.

We then finish with a deal just announced this morning, as Ambienta invests in what it calls a €12 billion market: commercial refrigeration.

Closing

Thoma Bravo has secured around 98 percent of the shares in German corporate comms and compliance company EQS, completing its first acquisition in Germany.

The tech-focused private equity firm plans to turn EQS into a “pan-European compliance leader”, said Irina Hemmers, partner at Thoma Bravo, in a statement. “To this end, we will work with EQS to continue on its path of addressing the megatrends of digitisation, regulation and sustainability with cutting-edge software solutions.”

Thoma Bravo signed an investment agreement with EQS back in November that set an offer price of €40 per share, for a total of around €400 million.

The firm has been making a push in Europe in the last couple of years, including opening a London office led by Hemmers, who joined from Inflexion.

EQS is expected to delist in the second quarter.

Speaking of delisting – as we reported on Monday, EQT’s £4.88 billion ($6.22 billion; €5.68 billion) take-private of UK-based veterinary pharmaceuticals company Dechra is now complete after the shares were delisted today.

‘Transformational’

Battery Ventures is taking a majority stake in Ortec, a decision-support software and data science company that managed a rare feat as a tech company of growing to over 1,200 customers, including names like ASML, Coca-Cola and Shell, without any private equity or venture capital investment up till now.

The investment is in the triple digit millions, while the company has “well north” of €150 million of revenue, Battery partner Zak Ewen told PE Hub Europe in an exclusive interview. “It’s a pretty substantial company, it’s profitable, it’s growing nicely.”

The investment comes as Ortec crystallises its three main products: supply chain, workforce management, and data science and consulting.

“It’s changing the way we think about the growth opportunity going forward, including inorganically,” said Ewen. “The business has made a series of small acquisitions throughout its history. But going forward with Battery, we will focus on larger, more transformational acquisitions as well.”

Those acquisitions will “empower and expand our existing product portfolio”, he added.

Check out the full interview for more on Ortec’s business model and which companies Battery views as competitors.

Collaboration

There’s been a steady stream of consumer deals in recent weeks, coming as inflation falls nearer to central bank targets, despite some recent upticks. So it seems like a good time to find out how private equity firms intend to grow these businesses.

LionRock Capital plans to “take the leash off” Swedish outdoor clothing business Haglöfs and grow the business through collaborations and into the Chinese market, Tom Pitts, LionRock’s head of Europe, told PE Hub Europe’s Nina Lindholm.

LionRock agreed to acquire a 100 percent interest in Haglöfs from Japan’s Asics Corporation in late 2023.

“The Japanese ownership brought a lot of discipline but at times, you want to take the leash off and see what happens,” said Pitts.

Instead of focusing on M&A, LionRock will look at opportunities via brand collaborations, a tried-and-tested method with a previous investment, UK footwear company Clarks. “The cool thing about collaborations is that they don’t have to be right on point,” said Pitts. “Some of the best collaborations we had with Clarks were with a chicken and waffle company or with an FM radio station.”

For its China push, LionRock will lean on sports. One of the firm’s largest LPs is Li Ning, who owns an eponymous sportswear company. Li is a former Olympic gymnast and ignited the cauldron at the 2008 Summer Olympics. “He’s one of the most important players in sports retail in China,” said Pitts. “That certainly gives us some edge.”

Check out the full interview for more on LionRock’s plans for Haglöfs.

Cool deal

Ambienta has made a play in what it considers to be a €12 billion market: commercial refrigeration.

The private equity firm will acquire a majority stake in Frigoveneta, a commercial refrigeration service provider, its first investment in the heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration sector.

Frigoveneta provides centralised refrigeration systems for food retail and cold storage applications and is based in Verona. Ambienta will support Frigoveneta in scaling its business domestically and internationally, according to a release.