The Lincolnshire-based technology companies have been sold to European ERP (enterprise resource planning) provider Forterro, which is backed by private equity houses Battery Ventures and Partners Group.
We worked closely alongside Bishopsgate Corporate Finance, Wilkin Chapman Solicitors, and the business owner to find the best possible home for the companies’ customers, software, and 200+ employees.
The acquisition adds nearly £18m in revenue and nearly 1,000 customers to the Forterro Group, which is a provider of software solutions to more than 10,000 small and mid-sized industrial companies across Europe.
CEO of Forterro, Dean Forbes said: “We warmly welcome Wise Software and Wise Robotics, its people and customers. The group’s products are a perfect fit with the Forterro vision and cement our position as the leading provider of software solutions for the industrial SMEs of Europe.”
Wise Software is a real local success story, having been founded in 1991 by local entrepreneur David Hallam, who coded the first version of OrderWise a few years after completing college. The company moved to its current premises in Saxilby in 2010 which then supported a period of rapid growth. Wise Software and Wise Robotics have long been champions for local employment and the Lincoln business community. This will continue under Forterro which will carry on supporting the rapid growth trajectory of the two companies.
David Hallam, the founder of Wise Software and Wise Robotics said:
“This is a bittersweet moment for me. It will be one of my life’s greatest achievements to have built a business that has been able to help so many UK companies grow and thrive.”
“The past two years have been our strongest to date. As we close in on another year of double-digit revenue growth and finalise the development of our browser-based version of OrderWise, Wise Software and Wise Robotics are in an ideal position for new ownership.
“I have been searching for a partner that would take these companies to the next level while allowing us to stay true to our roots and continue taking care of our customers. I am pleased to say that Forterro is that partner.”
Tim Godson, director of Duncan & Toplis, who has worked with David Hallam to support his strategy for many years and as part of the process introduced him to corporate finance specialists at Bishopsgate Corporate Finance so as to prepare the businesses for sale.
Tim said: ‘This deal has been an exceptional result for our client, showing just what can be achieved by having the right team of local advisers on board.
“We’ve built a strong, trusting relationship with David over many years. We began as his company’s auditors before helping him explore his long-term strategic options. We then supported David and his team at Wise Software alongside the teams at Bishopsgate and Wilkin Chapman in preparing the businesses for sale which culminated in the successful exit to Forterro.
“Throughout this period, Bishopsgate, Wilkin Chapman, and Duncan & Toplis worked cohesively, acting in the best interest of David and his two companies. Having never been through the process of selling a business before, David put his absolute trust in us, and we’re all proud to have helped him achieve such a terrific deal.”
Russell Eke, partner who led the Wilkin Chapman team commented “Echoing Tim’s comments, we are delighted to have worked with David, Bishopsgate and Duncan & Toplis on this transaction. Whilst it contained all the elements of a good transaction, in terms of complexity and workload, which drew out the breadth and depth of experience and expertise of ourselves, Bishopsgate and Duncan & Toplis, it was David’s genuine appreciation of all the hard work from the numerous colleagues at all levels across the three firms which made it all worthwhile. We wish him the very best for the future”.
Under the ownership of Forterro, the Wise Software Group will significantly expand Forterro’s northern Europe region, with the product representing the group’s fourth-largest revenue stream and fourth-largest customer base. The acquisition marks Forterro’s second in the UK, following its acquisition of 123insight a year ago. It also serves as Forterro's inaugural acquisition under its new owners Partners Group, a leading global private markets firm, acting on behalf of its clients.