The acquisition of Dallas-based (and offshore-enhanced) Oracle Commerce and CX consultancy, Trans American Information Systems (TAIS) by UK-focused, mid-tier offshore services firm Mastek, served to burnish what would have otherwise been rather muted growth in the last quarter of FY17 (to 31st March 2017). TAIS added some Rs5.2b to Mastek’s Q4 revenues, boosting them by 45% yoy to Rs18.0b (c.£22m). This brought FY headline revenues to Rs52.5b (c.£64m), 6.7% higher than the prior year. TAIS served to boost Mastek’s profitability too, helping to more than double the prior year’s desultory 3.6% operating margin to reach 8.4% in FY17.
I met up with Mastek’s new Group CEO, John Owen, recently, along with UK chairman, Joe Venkataraman, who took me through the rationale for Mastek’s in effect re-entry into the US market. I will expand on this in the next edition of OffshoreViews.
Posted by Anthony Miller at '09:45'
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The Cabinet Office has published its general election guidance for civil servants. The guidance, which also applies to the board members and staff of Non-Departmental Public Bodies and other arms’ length bodies, takes effect from midnight tonight, at which point the ‘election period’ (purdah) begins.
This means the Government has had a surprisingly short amount of time for ‘wash-up’, the period after a general election has been called, but before the election period begins, to conclude any urgent business that has cross party support.
For SITS suppliers, moving into the election period is likely to mean delays in larger contract negotiations and the issuing of new tenders. The guidance states:
“Decisions on matters of policy, and other issues such as large and/or contentious commercial contracts, on which a new government might be expected to want the opportunity to take a different view from the present government, should be postponed until after the election, provided that such postponement would not be detrimental to the national interest or wasteful of public money.”
As discussed in today’s Brexit: The Implications report, the election period is unlikely to delay Brexit planning. The guidance is clear that, “EU and international business will continue as normal during the period of the general election, including business relating to exiting the European Union.” The bigger impact will be on the large number of bills that will have to be restarted in the next Parliament, when Brexit work really starts to ramp up.
Posted by Dale Peters at '09:34'
Management at Bangalore-based mid-tier offshore services firm Mindtree should take considerable pride from the fact that their business grew faster than the major Indian pure-plays (IPPs) that have so far reported their results; Mindtree’s headline revenues for FY (to 31st March 2017) reached $780m, a growth rate of 9.4%, outstripping that of TCS (6.2%) and Infosys (7.4%).
Nonetheless, like its larger peers, growth is declining - but so are profits; Mindtree’s FY17 operating margin fell to 10.2%, almost 5 points below that of the prior year, and about half the profitability of just two years ago.
It’s admirable that Mindtree is winning share in the increasingly pressured offshore services market. We will have to trust that CEO Rostow Ravanan’s call to trade margin for growth will indeed set Mindtree “well positioned for the year ahead and beyond”!
Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:56'
We’re delighted to announce that a couple of TechMarketView’s good friends have won Queen’s Awards for Enterprise in Innovation 2017.
Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider UKCloud (formerly Skyscape Cloud Services) and intelligent automation player Celaton have both been give the prestigious award for their achievements.
The Queen’s Award rewards businesses for outstanding achievements across International Trade, Innovation, Sustainable Development and promoting opportunity through social mobility. The Innovation category awards companies that have shown ‘outstanding commercial success [selling their innovation] over the past two years, or continuous commercial success over five years’.
UKCloud is certainly delivering on the commercial success. It is the number one fastest growing company in the Sunday Time Tech Track 100 (see here), with revenues doubling in the past year to £32m, and a 10% operating margin. UKCloud is benefitting significantly from the shift to cloud-based infrastructure provisioning via the G-Cloud framework, and its platform is contributing to several high-profile initiatives like the Cabinet Office Digital Exemplar projects and the 100,000 Genomes Project.
Celaton has won the award for its artificial intelligence/machine learning software platform called InStream, which is being used by brands like Virgin Trains, ASOS and DixonsCarphone to transform their customer service operations (see here). It is also versatile in its application too, in use in adjacent areas like e-invoicing and claims handling at scale. Celaton operates in a highly disruptive space of intelligent automation, which has huge potential to transform business services operations over the next decade. To date the platform has successfully streamlined over 215 work streams across 35 brands and driven 25% growth of the company over the last 5 years.
There a number of other interesting UK tech SMEs on the list too. These include: two-time winner, assistive learning technology provider Inclusive Technology; customer engagement player Creative Virtual, financial regulatory reporting player Kaizen Reporting Ltd, cloud-based learning and development player OneFile, insurance social media claims handling player Claims Consortium Group, online lending platform Quint Group, and patient data clinical assessment platform provider Syn que non Ltd.
We will be keen to keep tabs on all of these winners. And wish them much success to come.
Posted by John O'Brien at '08:52'
There’s just a week to go before applications close for the first TechMarketView Great British Scaleup Event, to be held in London on 27-28 June 2017.
Following on from our highly successful Little British Battler programme, the new TechMarketView Great British Scaleup programme is aimed at fast growing, privately held, UK-owned tech SMEs that are ready, willing and able to make a step-change in their growth path with the help of external finance.
Participants will have a unique opportunity to develop their potential by tapping into the knowledge and experience of TechMarketView’s research analysts along with business advisors from ScaleUp Group, an elite team of successful tech entrepreneurs and seasoned executives, chaired by John O’Connell, one of the best known and most respected names in the UK tech sector.
Successful applicants will be invited to participate in a half-day, closed-door session to discuss their business plans and prospects in confidence with TechMarketView and ScaleUp Group. Selected qualifying companies will then have the option for further mentoring by ScaleUp Group to help prepare for potential external investment.
Companies participating in the TechMarketView Great British Scaleup programme will also enjoy invaluable exposure in TechMarketView UKHotViews, widely acknowledged as the most influential daily commentary on the UK tech scene, as well as coverage in selected TechMarketView research.
Indeed, many of the 100+ UK tech SMEs that participated in our Little British Battler programme tell us that their companies significantly benefited from their involvement – including gaining access to funding and exits through acquisition.
Applications for the first Great British Scaleup event close on Friday 28 April and can only be accepted through the web-based Pre-Qualification Form. Successful applicants will be notified by 26 May.
There is no charge to apply or participate in this event, so don’t miss this chance to start your journey to become the next Great British Scaleup!
Further information can be found in the Great British Scaleup page on our website or by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:07'
On 23rd June 2016, the UK voted to leave the European Union. Since then much has been unclear. No-one has really been sure what Brexit will mean. For UK Government, for UK industry, for UK citizens living abroad, or for EU citizens living in the UK. We still have two years of negotiations, during which time we will be seeking to agree the terms of our withdrawal from the EU, a new trade agreement and future relationship with the EU, and any transition arrangements.
For SITS suppliers to the UK market this makes planning in the short-to-medium term very difficult. It is our view that in order to make strategic decisions, it is important to get a handle on the Brexit timetable, the likelihood of different scenarios and the implications. That is why, in this TechMarketView research note, we welcome Jo Clift as a ‘guest writer’, asking her to explain the current Brexit scenario and the likely outcomes. Jo has drawn on her years of experience in the heart of UK Government to answer numerous questions posed by TechMarketView on the implications of Brexit within Whitehall and, more broadly, for the UK. The result is a simple guide to a very complex subject.
Over the next couple of months, the TechMarketView team will undertake further analysis, using Jo’s insight as a foundation, to look in more detail at the implications for the UK software and IT services (SITS) market. This will guide our revised market forecasts, which will be published in June.
Acknowledging the importance of this research, we have made this PublicSectorViews research note available to ALL TechMarketView subscribers. The report - Brexit: The implications - can be downloaded now. If you would like to talk to the TechMarketView team about this ongoing analysis, please contact TechMarketView Director, Georgina O’Toole.
Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '12:29'
SDL plc has agreed to sell its loss making Social Intelligence business, consisting of Social Intelligence, Inc and SDL Technologies (Vietnam) Co Ltd, to Social Data Intelligence LLC. The deal for a cash consideration for £1 also sees SDL agree to a $1m unsecured loan note issued by SDIL.
It was announced in January 2016 that SDL planned to sell its non-core assets (see SDL starts to sell off non core products), which included Campaigns, Fredhopper and Social Intelligence. It completed the sale of the Campaign business to Alterian Holdings LLC in November 2016 (see Costly Campaigns divestment for SDL) and Fredhopper to ATTRAQT Group plc in January 2017 (see ATTRAQT goes Large with Fredhopper). The Social Intelligence deal, which is expected to lead to a loss on disposal of approx. £0.5m, completes SDL’s divestment plan.
Commenting on the deal, Adolfo Hernandez, CEO of SDL, said, "We are delighted to have found a home for stakeholders of the Social Intelligence Business, including employees and customers. The transaction concludes the sale of the Group’s non-core businesses."
With this deal SDL can finally get back to its traditional area of language services and technologies.
Posted by Dale Peters at '10:08'
Scisys’ share price has been on a downward trajectory for the last couple of weeks. On 6th April, it stood at 110p. Its low point was Tuesday this week, when it stood at 91p. The reason? Press speculation regarding the future of existing contracts with UK firms for the European Union’s Galileo satellite navigation system project. There is a fear that the EU is calling for the right to cancel existing contracts with UK firms for the latest phase of work. The work is managed by the European Space Agency.
Scisys has, over the years, won several contracts through its British and German subsidiaries, both independently and in collaboration, to deliver key software systems for the programme (see Scisys maintains orbit with Thales contract extension and Striking year for Scisys). According to Scisys’ last annual report, the Galileo programme contributed €6m of revenues in the company’s FY16, representing c30% of the revenues of the space division, and 13% of total Group revenues. It’s, therefore, unsurprising that Scisys has sought to reassure, via a Board note today, that Brexit will not impact those revenues from Galileo. The main thrust is that it will be able to bid for work through either its UK or German offices. The company also expresses its confidence that a pragmatic solution will be found for Galileo that will benefit all parties (the EU, the UK Government and British industry). Moreover, Scisys points to new opportunities within the space sector that will benefit the Group, for example, via the UK Space Agency.
It is good news that Scisys can bid for Galileo contracts via its German subsidiary, Scisys Deutschland, because there remains considerable uncertainty around the impact of Brexit on UK suppliers to the Galileo programme (including British company, Surrey Satellite Technology). The day after the EU Referendum last year, SpaceNews published an excellent article on the potential for Brexit to disrupt the Galileo procurements – see Britain’s quitting the EU but will it be forced out of the EU space programs?. While the 22-nation European Space Agency is not a European Union organisation, the article explains that complications arise because the European Commission owns the Galileo positioning, navigation and timing network. The article also goes further, explaining other Brexit complications, like the fact that it may now be less attractive for international companies to invest in the UK to gain access to ESA and European Union space project funding.
Subscribers to TechMarketView can look forward to more reseach on the potential impact of Brexit as part of the TechMarketView subscription services over the next few days.
Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '10:04'
We’ve just come back from a fascinating day in Paris, with the top management of Accenture, to learn more about their strategy and positioning in application services, as the IT services leader rotates its business to ‘the new’ (see Accenture double-digit growth in Q2).
We met CEO Pierre Nanterme, COO Jo Deblaere, and other senior execs within Accenture’s Technology division, where we heard the global strategy and vision, and had deep dives into how Accenture’s Application Services business is transforming.
We had demos and insights across emergent areas like blockchain, artificial intelligence and chatbots, intelligent automation (see What is Intelligent Automation?), as well as from digital design agency Fjord, and new ‘liquid studio’, which focuses on rapid prototyping to product development. This is literally a new world for Accenture, in which the results continue to show, digital is accelerating in the region of 40-50%.
Nanterme talked about Accenture's Ambition 2020 strategy – an 8-year horizon launched in 2012, to create a new Accenture where the majority of its revenues will be in the new. Nanterme identified this via the acronym IMACS, which stands for interactive, mobility, analytics, cloud and security. This strategy has been behind Accenture’s continuing M&A activity, which is now seeing it invest $1bn on acquisitions, more than at any time in the company’s history.
But it's also about future-proofing Accenture's competitiveness too; supporting start-ups via its Open Innovation venture (see here) and through partnerships with ParTech Ventures in Europe (see here), and RocketSpace in San Francisco (see here).
There's much more to tell, which we will provide in a future AnalystViews note, only for TechMarketView subscribers.
Posted by John O'Brien at '09:30'
Energy Services Group (ESG), which provides transaction management, billing, and wholesale energy services in the US, Canada and Japan, has acquired Chorley-based Utiligroup Ltd. Utiligroup has been owned by private equity firm, NorthEdge Capital, since 2014. The Financial Times has quoted a purchase price of c£100m, but no official figure has been disclosed.
Utiligroup provides SaaS-based solutions specifically for energy providers. It turned over £12.5m in the year to the end of March 2016 (+44%) with EBITDA up 80% to £4.5m. The purchase is an important strategic move that gives ESG access to a new geographical market, coupled with Utiligroup’s technology that can support ‘challenger’ energy providers. The Government is keen for the UK’s energy market to become more competitive, positioning ESG/Utiligroup well for any market shake-up.
ESG is backed by private equity investor, Accel-KKR, which last year saw another of its portfolio firms, Datapipe, break into the UK with the acquisition of Adapt.
Posted by Kate Hanaghan at '09:23'
Yesterday I attended the AGM of the Allianz Technology Trust - #ATT. My 10th since I was appointed as a director in Jan 2007. I was re-elected as a director despite the convention that directors should not serve more than 3 terms of 3 years and the indisputable fact that I am now over 70!
When I joined #ATT, I bought a slug of shares as I believe that all directors should have ‘skin in the game’. I bought at 221p - yesterday #ATT closed at 912p. So, with the added bonus of the Subscription share issue, I have nearly quadrupled my money. I could joke and take all the credit for this superb performance but actually the best I could claim is having been instrumental in the appointment of Walter Price and his team in SF as the Fund Managers in mid 2007. Since then, #ATT has consistently outperformed its benchmark index (the Dow Jones World Technology Index - DJWTI) and its peers. That outperformance has continued in 2017 with #ATT growing at twice the rate of the DJWTI.
Current largest shareholdings are Apple (9.1%), Amazon (6.8%), Micron (4.4%), Samsung (3.9%) and Facebook (3.9%).
Walter Price outlined the current investment themes to shareholders yesterday as:
Cloud Computing and SaaS- where the significantly lower cost of ownership was driving massive growth
Cyber Security - including holdings in the UK’s Sophos
AutoTech - #ATT was an early investor/beneficiary from Tesla. But this has now branched out to cover all areas of autoTech from cameras to radar systems, battery management, sensors, in car connectivity etc. Indeed, the #ATT investment in Mobileye was particularly remunerative as they were acquired by Intel in March 17 for $15.3b.
Semiconductors - One of the ‘mature’ sectors of the portfolio. But #ATT’s position in Micron was its best contributor to recent performance.
Walter is still bullish over the prospects for the technology sector. “Today, technology is all about creative destruction. Companies are allocating existing spending to new technologies that provide more efficient and productive methods of doing things. Corporations and governments are accelerating the move to next generation solutions. Eg cloud storage. Mobile devices and the internet are continuing to have a huge impact on our daily lives. On top of that, many tech companies have loads of cash and generate excellent free cash flow - companies are returning more of this cash to investors’.
Of course, it is not just about selecting the right sectors - but even more so the right companies within those sectors. Even high growth sectors - like cyber - can produce its ‘dogs’ too.
Past performance is no guarantee of future performance. But, as both a director and shareholder, I have continued faith in Walter and his team to guide #ATT in the right direction.
Posted by Richard Holway at '09:11'
The first quarter of 2017 got off to a slow start in terms of merger and acquisition activity in the UK software and IT services (SITS) sector.
According to data from corporate finance firm, Regent Partners, there were 76 UK buyers and 78 UK sellers including 42 domestic deals in Q1. Acquisitions of IT services companies accounted for 58% of all UK SITS deals, down from 61% in Q4 2016, with consultancies and SIs representing the largest sector at 21%, followed by managed services, which increased its share to 15%, and vertical solutions providers which also increased its share to 15%. Demand for sector expertise was also strong in the software sector, where vertically focused software companies continued to be the most sought after, accounting for 19% of UK SITS deals.
Subscribers to the TechMarketView Foundation Service can download our latest quarterly review of UK software and IT services M&A in the just released report, IndustryViews Corporate Activity Q1 2017.
For further information, please contact our Client Services team (email@example.com).
Posted by HotViews Editor at '09:07'
Just as they warned this time last week, Gattaca, the AIM-listed, Fareham-based group of Engineering and Technology recruitment companies previously known by its core brand Matchtech, is expecting FY17 profits (to 31st July) to come in 10-15% below plan. The confirmation came on the back of half-time results (to 31st January), which saw headline revenues grow by 2% to £304.2m but net fee income (gross profit) drop by 3%, to £35.4m, trimming gross margins from 12.2% to 11.6%. Increased SG&A left operating profit 22% down, at £5.4m, squeezing operating margins by 50bps to 1.8%.
Pretty much 90% of Gattaca’s revenues currently derive from the UK, and management is drawing on profit and cash to boost its international operations. This, along with integration costs associated with the £60m cash-and-share acquisition of (then) AIM-listed peer, Networkers International, back in January 2015, appears to have contributed to a more than £10m drop in operating cash inflow, to £3.3m, and increased Gattaca’s net debt by 13% to nearly £28m (about 3.5x EBITDA for those who look at such measures). I have found very few recruiters that have any net debt at all – that’s not how the recruitment business model is meant to work. For example, tech-heavy recruiter SThree had a £10m net cash surplus at the end of its last FY (to November 2016).
Generally speaking, vertical specialisation is a ‘good thing’ and international diversification is a ‘good thing’ – so long as you get the basics right. It’s just not obvious to me that Gattaca has.
Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:39'
The 7th Enterprise Awards in association with the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists is celebrating and recognising the very best of the UK’s technology entrepreneurial talent with what we like to call ‘The Oscars of the Technology Industry’.
This year’s event is even bigger and grander than prior years and takes place at the Dorchester on 14 June 2017. For full details and to book to attend CLICK HERE.
Focused on the exceptional achievements of founders, the Enterprise Awards has recognised some of Britain’s most inspirational individuals that have achieved prominence on both private and public markets.
Previous winners include the founders of British unicorns FanDuel and Transferwise, as well as Vin Murria whose Advanced Computer Software was sold to Vista Partners for £725 million.
This year, our judging panel will, once again, be looking for examples of vision, growth, innovation, funding, use of capital, use of resources, strategy, execution, ambition and determination to succeed. Think you know someone who fits the bill, enter the Enterprise Awards 2017 now!
Enter the Enterprise Awards 2017 now!
The Award categories are as follows:
Entry deadline extended to 5 May
By popular demand, the deadline for entries has been extended by a week to midnight on Friday 5 May to allow for the Easter holidays.
Entry forms can be downloaded from Enterprise Awards 2017 Entry Form or contact Sarah Robinson at tx2 Events for further details (email firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 31372541).
If you are running an event that you'd like to promote in UKHotViews please contact Rebecca Johnson at TechMarketView for details of our Advertising packages, including Sponsored Posts like this one.
Posted by Enterprise Awards at '07:30'
We recently highlighted the presence of IT support provider, Littlefish, in the TechTrack100 (see Littlefish and the Tech Track 100). Littlefish was a Little British Battler (LBB) at our inaugural event in Q1 2012 – see Little British Battlers Q112 and Little British Battler Update: Littlefish).
They may not sit in one of the ‘sexy’ areas of the ICT market, but their growth achievements make up for that in the excitement stakes. In their financial year to 30th September 2017, we expect them to report growth of c50% to around £8.5m. In addition, employee numbers have increased to 120 (with 20 vacancies open). That compares to a turnover of just £1m (with 20 employees) when the current owners acquired the business in 2010. The business is profitable and cash generative.
Having caught up with Littlefish CEO, Steve Robinson, in this research note – Littlefish beating the big (and medium) fish in the big sea – TechMarketView Director, Georgina O’Toole, looks at how the company is slowly nibbling at the heels of the big and medium sized infrastructure services players in the market. The UKHotViewsExtra article also discusses the investment being made by Littlefish and its predictions for future growth.
TechMarketView subscription clients can gain access to the research note now. If you are not yet a subscriber, or don’t know if your company has a corporate-wide subscription already, please get in touch with Deb Seth.
Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '10:36'
In amongst what was the usual mixed bag, IBM highlighted declines in the UK and Germany as causing a drag on growth in EMEA. The company pointed to “macro and geo-political trends” in particular, a situation that looks set to deepen following yesterday’s General Election announcement.
Overall, IBM saw its topline drop again, with revenue down 2% to $18.2bn (FY16 also saw a 2% decline). In the GBS business, revenue declined 2% with “modest growth in signings …. driven by our digital offerings”. Technology Services and Cloud Platforms was also down 2%, despite cloud growth of 40%. Consequently, IBM shares dropped c5% in afterhours trading.
If we look at the work IBM is doing to become a “Cognitive Solutions & Cloud Platform Company” it is making the right moves. Investments in areas such as Watson IoT, cloud and analytics, are matched with interesting partnerships (e.g. Visa where Watson IoT turns connected devices into potential points of sale). And while growth rates in some of its strategically important areas are well into double digits, the size of the revenue pot versus those traditional areas we quote above just isn’t big enough to counter the declines.
The added challenge for IBM and its global system integrator peers in traditional markets is that the pressure on pricing shows absolutely no sign of letting up. Customers are desperate to drive out costs and they want quick and substantial returns. Sometimes that means a significant move to as-a-service, but not always. These are testing times and if IBM shareholders think things will change substantially in the near term, they are likely to be disappointed.
Posted by Kate Hanaghan at '09:47'
Arvato, is gearing up to expand its relationship with long-term customer, Renault. The BPO provider has operated front-office customer services for the automotive group’s Renault and Dacia brands since 2011. Internationally, Arvato also supports Groupe Renault as a strategic partner across its back-office functions. Now, under a new three-year contract, it will also provide back office customer services in the UK & Ireland. That will mean handling all customer complaints whether via telephone, email, webchat, SMS or social media. With the partnership doubling in size, another 50 employees are set to transfer to Arvato.
Arvato has found the private sector far more buoyant than the public sector over the last year or so. CEO of Arvato CRM Solutions, UK & Ireland, Debra Maxwell, has pointed to “an unsurprising slowdown in the public sector”, with the finger of blame firmly pointed at June’s EU Referendum and a change in Government and a resultant “wait and see approach”. Yesterday’s news of a snap General Election – see Snap General Election: More short-term uncertainty – will exacerbate that situation this year. Our UK BPO market forecasts highlight this divergence between public and private sector BPO – see UK BPO Market Trends & Forecasts). Arvato, will, therefore, be pleased to be further strengthening its footprint in the automotive sector where, alongside Renault, it also works with BMW (see Arvato drives off with BMW UK) and the Harley Owners Group.
The Renault contract will also be another reference site for Arvato’s customer relationship management (CRM) expertise. Already, the improvement in customer service at Renault has been highlighted as contributing to the company’s growth in market share and a 12.5% increase in new car sales last year. Webchat was amongst the new technologies introduced; it now delivers 60% of all new vehicle leads via contact centres.
Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '09:46'
The Microsoft ecosystem is vast and wondrous, providing a living for gazillions of symbiotic partners. One such is the curiously named London-based startup, Sideways6, whose add-on to Microsoft’s employee collaboration platform, Yammer, has encouraged investors, including the peripatetic Brent Hobermann and investor group 24 Haymarket, to pop another £500k into its funding pot. Incorporated in January 2014, Sideways6 was launched in April 2015, backed by £100k in seed funding.
According to an interview last year with founder Will Read, Sideways6 ‘is profitable less than a year into trading’ and was aiming for £1m turnover. Marquee clients include British Airways, BP, British Gas and Virgin Trains.
It’s good to collaborate!
Posted by Anthony Miller at '09:41'
The top management of this relative new-comer to AIM, headed by CEO Gavin Lyons (a partner of MXC Capital), had identified the market for the automation of Corporation Tax reporting as providing significant growth potential. As a result, a shell company (ECO City Vehicles plc) was used to buy Tax Computer Systems Ltd (TCSL) in July of last year and reverse it onto the public market as Tax Systems plc (AIM: TAX). TCSL had a long history in the business, an established software platform and broad UK customer base, as well as £12.8m of revenue in 2015 and an EBITDA margin consistently around the 50% level. The acquisition was transacted at an Enterprise Value of £73m.
Today’s results show the performance of Tax Systems plc since the acquisition to the end of the calendar year. Revenue totalled £5.8m, with EBITDA of £2.7m. An operating loss of £3.2m and £0.8m of Finance charges drove a pre-tax loss of £4m. The company had net debt of £24m at the year end. Annual software licence sales totalled £5m, some 80% of the Group total.
Management’s key next step was to buy Little British Battler OSMO, for its ability to extract data automatically from diverse accounting systems and to significantly alter the economics of building tax returns. (Corporation tax appears to get ever more complex and Brexit will probably make it even more so). This acquisition generates a significant element of differentiation as Tax Systems sets out to serve companies as they move to quarterly tax reporting and respond to the government’s policy of “Making Tax Digital” by 2020.
Tax Systems’ goal is to provide end-to-end and substantially automated solutions for tax departments. With the progress already made, it seems to be building good foundations for an exciting future.
Posted by Peter Roe at '09:34'
NHS Digital - the national information and technology provider for England’s health and care system – has appointed Sarah Wilkinson from the Home Office as its new CEO. Sarah, who is currently Chief Digital, Data and Technology Officer at the Home Office, will join NHS Digital ‘later this year’. Until then, Rob Shaw will continue as interim CEO, a role he took after the retirement of former CEO Andy Williams at the end of March.
Sarah’s appointment as NHS Digital CEO looks set to bring fresh energy and insight to the public sector organisation, which has an important role to play in empowering the health and care system through digital transformation. Sarah joined the Home Office at the beginning of 2015 to lead the transformation of the department’s IT capabilities. Although Sarah is new to the healthcare sector, she has a strong track record in technology and change having begun her career in the finance sector with senior roles at Lehman Brothers, Deutsche Bank, UBS, HSBC and most recently Credit Suisse. This experience of implementing complex digital projects and bringing about change through digital delivery should stand her in good stead at NHS Digital, which will need strong leadership as the NHS battles to transform despite mounting pressures (see UK Public Sector SITS Market Trends & Forecasts).
Posted by Tola Sargeant at '08:51'
If you believe that what the world needs now is more surveys, then I have jolly good news for you. There’s another technology platform vying to help corporates do their market research.
It’s London-based Attest Technologies, which recently raised $3.1m in a funding round led by Oxford Capital, and Episode 1 along with new angel investors. Incorporated in February 2015, Attest secured £1m in seed funding later that year from Episode 1.
As you might expect, Attest claims to make it simpler to design surveys and get them out to your target audience. Pricing is on a per-completed-response basis with, for example, 5 questions generating 250 ‘completes’ costing £563. Clients include M&C Saatchi and Deliveroo.
And as you asked, no, I don’t know if Attest’s founders surveyed the market to see if there’s a meaningful opportunity for another survey engine. But I assume the market will tell them anyway in the only way that matters.
Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:47'
GB Group (GBG), the AIM-listed identity data intelligence software provider, has built upon its H1 performance (see GB Group continues strong growth path) through the remainder of the year.
Today’s trading update for the year ending 31 March 2017, states it expects to report revenue growth of 19% (12% of which was organic growth) and adjusted operating profit up 27% to £17m. Its share price opened up 5% on news of the results, which are ahead of market expectations.
After a lengthy search, new CEO Chris Clark joined GBG at the start of this month (see GB Group announces new CEO). Long-time CEO Richard Law, who announced his retirement this time last year, has left Clark a good foundation on which to build. We expect the acquisition of IDscan Biometrics in June last year (see GB Group – seeking new identity?) to provide additional opportunities for the business in 2017.
Posted by Dale Peters at '08:45'
It looks like it’s been a good year for Lombard Risk, the provider of integrated collateral management and regulatory reporting solutions. After a good first half with revenues up 41% and order book ahead by 35%, the company’s management now expect revenues of between £34m and £34.4m for the year to March 2017, an increase of around 40% on the previous year. EBITDA is also forecast to be up strongly, to £2.4-£2.8m, this figure also being ahead of market expectations.
The new management team have made substantial progress over the past year or so (see Mr. Brown goes off to town…) and their hard work can be seen in these figures. The business had a big clear-out in the first half last year and has focused on two major products in collateral management and regulatory reporting. The market background is also very positive as these are both important areas where investment companies are looking to modernise their systems to cope with ever-increasing oversight and tighter margins. New cloud-based variants of the solutions have opened up a new raft of potential customers and more partnerships (with Oracle and Atos) and a push in the US has broadened and strengthened the customer base.
The result of this progress is a much more robust and predictable business that is unlikely to suffer from the regulatory delays and contract postponements that had stalled progress in 2013 and early 2015 (see Regulator and contracts trip up LRM, again). Cash balances stand at £7m, after an £8m placing in June and the company looks set fair for another year of profitable progress. We’ll learn more about this transformation when the full results are published on 24th May.
Posted by Peter Roe at '08:10'
If Mumbai-headquartered offshore services market leader TCS could just keep up the pace for another couple of years, it would be within cooee of becoming a $20b revenue company by organic growth alone, a full year ahead of the ‘aspirational’ $20b-by-2020 target set two years ago for Infosys by CEO Dr Vishal Sikka.
But that is far from being a ‘done deal’. TCS’ headline revenue growth slipped for the third successive year to 6.2% in FY17 (to 31st March 2017), to reach $17.6b. TCS is still over 70% larger than the $10.2b revenue Infosys, but with a slightly slower growth rate. And like its Bangalore-based rival, TCS is fighting hard to maintain its grip on operating margins, which eased 80bps to 25.7%, though still a full point ahead of Infosys.
But at 9.4% growth, TCS’ headcount, which now stands at over 387k employees, is still rising faster than revenues. Infosys has done better, it must be said, recording 3.3% headcount growth, now just topping 200k employees.
More likely is for TCS to become the first £2b Indian pure-play in the UK market. Our preliminary estimates show TCS with UK revenues close to £1.9m in FY17, about 8% higher than the prior year. At current course and speed TCS could breach the £2b barrier in the current FY, firmly cementing its status as a Top 5 player in the UK software and services market.
But the challenges facing all the Indian pure-plays are unrelenting – declining growth, increasing headcount, tighter margins. As usual, we will explore these challenges and their implications in more detail in the next edition of OffshoreViews.
Posted by Anthony Miller at '18:11'
Our recent research, The Little British Battler 100 report - The LBB100, surveyed 100 innovative UK tech SMEs who have taken part in the TechMarketView Little British Battler (LBB) Programme. The report answers some of the burning questions about the LBBs, as they seek the next stage in their growth.
Funding and investment were key areas highlighted by these companies with many citing the difficulty of gaining visibility for their products and services and a lack of the necessary investment infrastructure as a real challenge. The message was clear that future external investment is critical to LBBs to take their businesses forward to the next stage of their development.
The respondents were asked about funding to date and the results can be seen below.
Private Equity and Venture Capital have been the most popular routes to external investment for our LBBs to date, but other sources, such as Government-backed programmes, still provide vital funding opportunities. With 48% of respondents stating that they will be seeking investment in the next five years, and 35% considering selling their businesses (for a significant premium) in the future this presents an important opportunity for investors.
Keen to read more? Existing research clients can access the full analysis here. If you are not an existing client but would like order a copy of the report please contact Deb Seth in our Client Services Team or download the LBB100 Report abstract for full details.
Posted by HotViews Editor at '16:10'
Today’s announcement by Prime Minister, Theresa May, that the Cabinet has agreed to the calling of a snap General Election on 8th June has come as a surprise. May has consistently stated that there would be no General Election until 2020. Though the motion needs to be passed by the House of Commons, it seems highly likely that May will get her wish; Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, has already stated his support, suggesting a two-thirds majority should be in the bag.
For May, this is the right thing to do. Without a snap General Election, she would have been continually fighting opponents in Westminster who have questioned her ability to press forward with Brexit negotiations given the small majority of the Conservative party. Crucially, as she stated in her announcement today, the most difficult stage of the Brexit negotiations would have coincided with the next scheduled General Election in 2020.
However, there are major implications to this decision. Theresa May is determined to provide the country with “certainty, stability and strong leadership” as we head towards Brexit. Yet, in the short-term this snap General Election will bring just the opposite: more uncertainty and instability. If nothing else, her stance could be considered arrogant – the ability for the Election to bring certainty and stability assumes that the Conservatives will win on 8th June…. And with a bigger majority. But, as we know (and have had confirmed by recent events in the UK and the US), politics can easily surprise us with its twists and turns. That means, for the next couple of months, we can’t be absolutely certain that there won’t be some sort of Brexit U-turn should another party (or a coalition) take power, nor can we predict what this will mean for the future of Scotland and Northern Ireland.
At TechMarketView, we are just entering our next forecasting period. We are already factoring in the effects of Brexit, both positive (investment in ICT to support the post-Brexit world) and negative (uncertainty breeding delays, and resources – both budgets and people – being redirected to all-things Brexit). We are also already in the Purdah period for next month's local government elections. Now we must factor in the usual General Election ‘Purdah’ period, which usually starts six weeks prior, during which large or contentious projects or programmes will be delayed (most of which will be supported by digital), as well as yet more uncertainty – and hence caution – related to Brexit (Brexit implications: UK public sector SITS).
There are always opportunities that arise from these sorts of situations – in the run-up to the last General Election, for example, the large SITS incumbents to Government benefited from contract extensions and bolt-ons, and management consultancies talked of a pick-up pre-General Election (though a decline in demand as the new Government put its plans in place). But, overall, the story in UK public sector SITS was one of General Election disruption (see UK public sector SITS supplier landscape 2015-16). This time, with Brexit complicating matters further, that disruption is likely to be all the greater.
Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '13:23'
We recently caught up with Graham Booth, CEO of one of our Little British Battlers, 2iC (see UKHotViews archive). When we met 2iC in April 2015, it was a company with revenues of just c£300K (in its financial year to end December 2014 (see Little British Battlers: The Sixth Sense). Having grown at an average of 30% over the last three years, it achieved revenues over £0.5m in its last financial year.
In this latest UKHotViewsExtra article, we look at why Booth believes future growth will be driven by international opportunities and discuss why the company has become frustrated with the slow pace of change within the UK Ministry of Defence. If you would like to read more, and are already a TechMarketView subscriber, you can read ‘2iC: Strong growth driven by international contracts’ now. If you would like to find out how to access the research, please contact Deb Seth to find out more.
Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '13:20'
Hampshire-based Lumi Technologies has had an interesting history, which has recently become even more interesting. Originally incorporated in 2006 As Apollo Wireless Media, Lumi develops software for running conferences and events. Lumi acquired the nearly 10-times larger Interactive Meetings Limited (IML) from Computershare in 2013 and now bills itself as ‘a global leader in real-time audience engagement technology’. Lumi made a £3.9m net loss on revenues of £12.3m in 2015
Lumi Technologies has just sold a majority stake in Lumi AGM, the part of the business aimed at the corporate shareholder meeting market, to London-based mid-market private equity firm, Vespa Capital. Terms were not disclosed. The remainder of the Lumi business has been rebranded as Meetoo, a platform for real-time polling for training, meetings and classes. The Lumi AGM and Meetoo businesses remain linked, insofar as Meetoo has a seat on the Lumi AGM board and will support the development of the product set.
Well, I think it's interesting, anyway.
Posted by Anthony Miller at '09:48'
Several recent contract announcements from Getronics reflect the increased breadth and depth of its IT services capabilities.
First up is its win with agricultural firm, Syngenta, to provide IT field support to over 31,000 users in 68 countries (APAC, Europe, Latin and North America) in addition to local service desk in 14 countries. Getronics will use a global platform to give the client a wider choice of technology while aiming to improve the user experience.
Getronics’ win at Brussels South Charleroi Airport demonstrates it can also land standalone networking/connectivity deals. Furthermore, the contract adds to its clutch of wins in the airport arena – see Getronics takes flight with AGS Airports win.
Meanwhile, the company has recently struck a deal with Portakabin to integrate a new Dynamics CRM solution. Getronics is also implementing Dell Boomi to integrate the CRM system with Portakabin’s ERP applications. This is a very important contract for Portakabin marking its largest investment in IT since it was founded more than 50 years ago.
The above examples show the breadth of services Getronics can now deliver, both in and out of the traditional infrastructure services space. Backed by investment firm, Aurelius, the company has gradually extended its capability, with acquisitions forming an integral part of its growth plan – for example, see Getronics closes Colt acquisition.
Posted by Kate Hanaghan at '09:41'
There’s just two weeks to go before applications close for the first TechMarketView Great British Scaleup Event, to be held in London on 27-28 June 2017.
The new TechMarketView Great British Scaleup programme is aimed at fast growing, privately held, UK-owned tech SMEs that are ready, willing and able to make a step-change in their growth path with the help of external finance.
Applications close on Friday 28 April and can only be accepted through the web-based Pre-Qualification Form. Successful applicants will be notified by 26 May.
Posted by HotViews Editor at '08:42'
It’s been about 18 months since Cheshire-based SaaS eProcurement software developer, Wax Digital (no, don’t ask) came under the wing of backers August Equity (see August Equity waxes lyrical over Wax Digital) and business is looking rather good.
Results for the prior FY (to 30th June 2016) are just out, and reveal 19% revenue growth to £5.6m, coupled with a 52% operating profit boost which lifted operating margins by nearly three points to 12.9%. This, along with higher cash conversion, increased end-of-year cash in the bank by almost £1m. International expansion continued, with non-UK revenues now accounting for 25% of the total, up from single figures.
I met up with founding CEO, Paull Ellis, earlier this year and was impressed with the story. Wax Digital’s ‘USP’ is a highly modular source-to-pay integration platform which also connects to third-party products. Sales are mainly direct, but international deals are sold by a growing network of partners.
With just a couple of months before the close of the current FY, Ellis tells me that the business is growing at a similar pace to last year. Sounds like August made a canny investment.
Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:06'
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