Following a period of intense multi-party bidding that one person with knowledge of the situation described as “aggressive”, we understand that HighQ has been acquired by Thomson Reuters, in what looks likely to become our deal of the year for 2019.

The acquisition has yet to be formally announced but we understand that it has just been agreed today (18 July).

Questions have long hung over Thomson Reuters as to what it will spend the money it has made from divesting its 55% stake in its finance and risk business for around $17bn.

HighQ provides secure project and client collaboration and over the past few years has heavily focussed on the automation and workflow space, leveraging iSheets, a data collaboration module in HighQ Collaborate. Addleshaw Goddard is one law firm leading the charge on this and in 2018 Dentons, the world’s largest law firm, announced that it was adopting HighQ’s intelligent work platform.

The platform can be used for extranets and client portals, transaction management, legal project management and litigation management.

In March we revealed that HighQ was about to launch a new platform for corporate legal teams that includes work and collaboration tools for enterprise legal management, document management, matter management, legal intake and self-service, contract management and vendor management.

HighQ is also notably among the vendors positioning itself to become the leading AI platform or hub, and already has an integration with Kira Systems.

Within Thomson Reuters itself, HighQ already integrates well with Contract Express: if you use HighQ for client collaboration, you can import iSheet data into Contract Express Version 8 to generate documents and export documents back to HighQ as part of your drafting workflow.

The acquisition comes as Thomson Reuters groups heavily around legal tech products not services, having this year divested its legal managed services business that is still best known as Pangea3 to EY.

In February it launched legal workflow solution Panoramic, which is designed to help fee-earners plans each stage of a transaction or case, including pricing; cost and process; project management; and knowledge and data.

This acquisition follows a year of significant growth for HighQ. Its largest client base is in the United Kingdom, where it ended the financial year to 30 April 2018 with a 29% increase in revenue to £18.6m and what it describes as “significant progress in all markets the business operates in.” However, it made a loss in the most recent financial year thanks to the investments made during the past 12 months.

It has over the past three years been building out its global offering, having received $50m in investment from Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and One Peak, in an indication of the type of sums involved in Thomson Reuters acquisition. Its latest accounts showed that it had £2.7m in total equity, £8.7m in cash and no senior bank debt.

This is the latest example of consolidation in the legal technology market: Litera only recently acquired Workshare, in its continuing bid to own the document drafting lifecycle, with clients welcoming integration as they look for simplicity and integration.

We’ll bring you more as soon as we have it. A spokesperson for Thomson Reuters declined to comment.