The largest ever buyout of a European software company was just announced – and you've probably never heard of it

 
Lucy White
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Visma offers software to small businesses to help with tasks such as payroll and expenses (Source: Getty)

The largest ever buyout of a software company in Europe was announced yesterday, led by UK-based private equity firm HgCapital.

The £4.2bn deal for Visma, a business software developer, saw US buyout house KKR sell the whole of its 31 per cent stake, and Cinven reduce its share by 60 per cent to 17.1 per cent.

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HgCapital invested a further £1.4bn to take its stake to 41 per cent, while Singapore's sovereign wealth fund GIC, European investor Montagu and asset manager ICG also invested.

According to Nic Humphries, managing director and head of HgCapital, there were several reasons why the firm decided to reinvest for the third time after first getting involved in 2006.

“Firstly, it has just performed really well,” he said. “Secondly, the chief executive Øystein Moan has been incredible to work with. Thirdly, we're huge believers that a good business invests a lot in research and development – which Visma does.”

The company creates software for small businesses which “helps people to do their jobs properly”, in Humphries' words, such as payroll compliance or expenses tools.

When HgCapital first invested in 2006, Visma was worth around £382m. It has since expanded out of its Norwegian homeland to Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway and completed more than 120 bolt-on acquisitions.

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