Norwegian software firm Visma steps up M&A in the Netherlands

27 November 2018 5 min. read
After having previously acquired Raet and PinkWeb, the Norwegian software company Visma Group has added two new ICT companies to its footprint in the Netherlands. The acquisition of ProActive, an IT firm based in Haarlem, and Idella, an IT player with three offices throughout the country, lifts the size of Visma’s Dutch team to 1,600 employees.
Since being acquired for around €4.6 billion by HgCapital Trust, a British investment company with more than €10 billion of assets under management, Visma Group is expanding rapidly in the Netherlands. The purchase of Raet in May this year, a deal with an estimated price tag of around €600 million, is so far the largest acquisition in the Norwegian company’s history. By joining an international player, Raet, according to CEO Kobe Verdonck, can continue to grow internationally. "We were faced with the choice of investing heavily in acquisitions or joining a major player. We opted for the last option and then came to an agreement with Visma,” said the CEO.
Visma was founded in 1996 in Norway, following the merger or three local companies. Today, the Oslo headquartered company is one of Europe's larger providers of solutions for domains such as accounting, financial management, human resources, invoicing and collection and procurement. Visma has more than 8,500 employees serving around 850,000 customers, of which the vast majority are small and mid-sized enterprises.
In recent years, the software player has pursued an aggressive buy-and-build strategy to fuel its ambitious pan-European growth agenda. In 2015, Visma completed eight acquisitions, all based in the Nordics, while the following year, 20+ companies were bolted-on, including EasyCruit in the UK and VSWAre in Ireland. In 2017, the year former shareholder KKR sold its entire remaining stake in Visma (around 31%) to an investor group led by HgCapital together with GIC, Montagu and ICG, the company acquired 12 companies, among them Admincontrol, Megaflex Oy and NYCE solutions. The integration of Denmark-based Bluegarden into its organisation was however back then the biggest deal in its history, adding about 550 employees to its Scandinavian operation.

Norwegian software firm Visma steps up M&A in the Netherlands

Visma in the Netherlands

Visma's foray into the Netherlands commenced in 2006, when it entered the market with the takeover of AccountView. After an 11-year period of chasing an organic growth strategy, the past 1.5 years has seen a radical departure from the approach, with five acquisitions closed in this period. Last year the Norwegian company kicked-off the M&A-spree with the bolt-on of Davilex, a software company based in Houten. In 2018, the pickup of ProActive bolstered its capacities with software solutions for managing and improving purchase-to-pay-processes, PinkWeb added solutions offered to accounting firms, while Raet boosted its HR and payroll software portfolio. The latter record breaking deal saw approximately 1,000 employees transfer. “With Raet on board, Visma now serves over 10 million users in the area of HR solutions, making us one of Europe’s leading providers,” commented Øystein Moan, CEO of Visma.

The most recent deal, that of Idella, which closed last week, added around 110 employees to the company’s Dutch footprint. Idella helps players in the financial services industry including banks (Van Lanschot), insurance companies (Achmea), pension providers (PGGM) and wealth managers with administrating and digitising their business processes. The entire holding of Idella has been purchased, including subsidiaries Cloudnexxt (a provider of software-as-a-service [SaaS] offerings) and It-solid (hosting and IT infrastructure services) based in Almere, Amsterdam and Zwolle.

An army of M&A advisors including consultants, lawyers and financial advisors have supported the dealmaking processes between Visma and the selling parties. Capitalmind for instance helped the Norwegians buy Davilex, while Big Four firms EY and KPMG, flanked by smaller professional services firms JanssenBroekhuysen and TaxWise, advised on the PinkWeb and ProActive acquisitions. Boer & Croon Corporate Finance, which will in the coming period be integrated into Deloitte Corporate Finance, played a role in the purchase of Idella.

In the Netherlands, Visma now has revenues of over €210 million, generated by approximately 1,600 employees. Meanwhile, Visma has continued its international M&A rampage – in the past six months alone the following companies were acquired: Számlázz in Hungary, Lessmore in Sweden, Merit Tarkvara in Estonia, and Aditro Public, Agenteq Solutions and Weoptit, all based in Finland. In line with the company’s growth ambition – becoming a market leader in North Europe – analysts forecast that more targeted deals are looming on the horizon. “We continue to look for opportunities to increase our presence and product range in the region,” said CEO Øystein Moan.