August 12, 2012 6:38 pm

EQT acquires IT automation company UC4

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EQT Partners, the Swedish private equity group, has clinched a closely fought bidding battle to buy IT process automation company UC4 from the Carlyle Group for €220m, according to people close to the situation.

The deal, which is expected to be announced on Monday, is one of few recent transactions where a sizeable European software company has been sold to a European buyer. Most recent large deals, such as Vista Equity Partners’ purchase of Misys and HP’s acquisition of Autonomy, have seen European software assets snapped up by US buyers.

Austrian-based UC4 was acquired by the Carlyle Group in 1996. It helps companies automate their IT systems, something that is becoming crucial as businesses shift to running their computer systems remotely, or in the “cloud”.

UC4, whose management team is based in the US, has annual revenues of about $100m and has more than 2,000 customers. Among its client base are blue-chip customers including BT Global Services, travel operator TUI and French banking group Société Générale. Earnings before of interest, tax and depreciation were thought to be around $25m.

The business competes with companies such as IBM, Computer Associates and BMC, albeit having a slightly narrower focus on automation than its competitors.

It is understood that EQT, which is partly owned by Sweden’s Wallenberg family, is keen to become a broader enterprise IT software business that could further challenge the leading global companies.

EQT has made investments in the past few months, including the purchase of Vertu, the luxury mobile phone manufacturer, from Nokia and a $1.8bn deal to buy BSN Medical, the German medical supplies manufacturer, in June.

The Carlyle Group was advised on the sale by Arma Partners, a boutique mergers and acquisitions house, making this deal the 12th to be brokered by Arma in the past six months. EQT was advised by Lazard.

Lazard, too, has been on a run with its merger advisory business up 9 per cent in the first half of this year, in contrast with declines at investment banks overall.

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