Bighand changes hands for £49 million
BigHand, the digital dictation and voice productivity software developer, has been acquired by Bridgepoint Development Capital together with management in a transaction totalling £49 million. Founded in 1996, Bighand is the largest provider of voice productivity software to the legal, healthcare and professional services market in the UK and has a growing international client base. It currently supports over 150,000 professionals globally, across 1,450 organisations and has offices in London, Chicago, Sydney and Toronto. BDC has acquired the business from LDC (part of the Lloyds banking group) who first invested in the team in 2006 in a primary buyout.
Alan Payne, partner at Bridgepoint Development Capital, says that penetration of voice productivity solutions, although strong in some markets, has still further to go in many others and is growing especially on the back of demand for its use from mobile devices and recent advances in voice-to-text conversion technology. “Voice productivity software can yield very significant efficiency gains and cost savings to its users. BigHand is highly rated for its product capability and quality of service and is now recognised as a market leader, especially by the legal community.”
The company is the branded market leader in the supply of voice productivity solutions to the UK legal market and is the No 1 supplier in the US, Dutch and Australian law firms market. In healthcare, it is the number one accredited supplier to the UK’s NHS.
BigHand CEO Jon Ardron added: “We consider Bridgepoint’s support to be very good news for our clients and our staff as we invest for the future. We have exciting plans for new products and services, there are a range of untapped growth opportunities for our business in both existing and newer markets and with the support of our new shareholder we expect to grow our market share, build our customer base in target markets as well as extend our capabilities through targeted acquisitions.”
Ken Hills Director, LDC added: “This is a great next step for a company which still has the ambition to develop further. The movement into SaaS markets is particularly encouraging and bodes well for the future.”
BDC will acquire the company from LDC who will roll-over a portion of their proceeds to take a minority stake in the business along with a significant investment from management.
COMMENT: Considering the original LDC buyout placed a reported £16 million value on the Bighand business, a £33 million increase since 2006 is good going. We also hear that all the current senior management are not only staying but have increased their personal shareholdings in the business. And we also hear the company now has a war chest it will be using for acquisitions, international expansion and new product development.
Background: Debt for the transaction was provided by the incumbent provider HSBC. Advisers involved in the transaction are: for Bridgepoint Development Capital – E&Y (M&A and debt advisory), First Capital (Valuation and exit), Travers Smith (legal), AMR (commercial due diligence) & for LDC – Marks Baughan & Co (Corporate Finance); for management – CMS Cameron McKenna (legal), KPMG (financial and tax).
Bridgepoint Development Capital provides funding to businesses headquartered in France, the Nordic region and the UK, typically buyouts valued up to €150 million. BDC has a team of 17 investment professionals wholly dedicated to its investment activity and operating from offices in London, Paris and Stockholm. Recent transactions include the buyout of aerospace component manufacturer Shimtech Industries involving the acquisition and merging of four businesses within Hampson Industries’ Aerospace Components & Structures division in a transaction totalling $84 million; and a growth capital investment in Evander Glazing & Locks, the nationwide 24/7 emergency response and repair provider of locks and glazing. BDC is part of Bridgepoint, the international private equity group, which invests in businesses valued between €200 million and €1 billion across Europe, from a network of nine offices in Frankfurt, Helsinki, Istanbul, London, Madrid, Milan, Paris, Stockholm and Warsaw.