Ratos has today agreed with the owners and management of the Sundsvall-based IT Group, DataVis, to invest a total of SEK 250M in the company in the beginning of year 2000. The investment will be made through a directed new share issue, share purchases and through convertible subordinated debentures. Ratos´ ownership will amount to approximately 48 per cent excluding effects of future conversions. DataVis´ other owners include the company's employees and HERE Invest.
Full-range supplier with strong base in Northern Sweden
The consulting company, DataVis, has a strong base as a full-range supplier of IT services in Northern Sweden. For many years, the emphasis has been on system development but has gradually been supplemented with business solutions, Internet, training, product sales as well as technology and operation. In addition to Northern Sweden, the company is represented in Stockholm and Linköping. The Internet operations within Internet consultant O2 are currently also being established in Copenhagen.
Since its start in 1990, DataVis has grown from 6 to approximately 200 employees. Expansion has taken place both organically and via acquisition. During 1999, the two Stockholm companies, Mjukvarukraft and the Internet consulting company, O2, with a total of some 50 consultants were acquired.
Gert Söderberg is President and one of the founders of DataVis.
"We are growing fast. Through Ratos, we get access to both capital and an active owner something that we see as decisive for achieving our objectives to establish DataVis as a nationwide full-range supplier of IT services. To reach that target, both organic growth and acquisition will be required."
DataVis has already carried out a private placement of its stock to its employees and also started planning for an IPO on the OM Stockholm Exchange. Now, the company's owners and employees have instead chosen to let the company grow further before a future listing.
"Following some major acquisitions during the past year, I feel this is a better solution. Now we are taking time to establish a stronger operation which I personnally believe can become a more interesting public investment," says Gert Söderberg. "Through Ratos we get an indirect exposure to the stockmarket and also an experienced partner when we are to be listed ourselves."
In 1998, DataVis´ sales amounted to approximately SEK 160M and result before taxes SEK 3.5M. During 1999, the DataVis Group is expecting sales of approximately SEK 200M and result before taxes of more than SEK 5M. Both in 1998 and 1999, the result has been charged with restructuring costs which have arisen as a result of carried out acquisitions.
DataVis - a further step into the private equity market
A year ago, Ratos' investment strategy changed. From previously having looked for investments on the stockmarket, the company is now moving towards the private equity market. According to Arne Karlsson, President of Ratos, today's agreement is fully in line with Ratos' new strategy.
"DataVis is eminently compatible with Ratos' new strategy. Here, Ratos is able to act as a greenhouse during a few expansive years. Among other things, I believe that Ratos has an important role to play in DataVis´ acquisition strategy. In collaboration with the management, I also believe that we will be able to contribute to improving the company's profitability."
The investment of SEK 250M is in the lower range of the investments which Ratos sees ahead in the implementation of its new strategy. The Active holdings, which Ratos now owns, include Scandic Hotels, the Danish company Superfos, Capona, Dahl, Esselte and ACE. Telelogic where Ratos´ holding has increased from SEK 30M in value to SEK 350M and Telia Overseas are also among the Active holdings.
"Both Telelogic and Telia Overseas are exposed to the expansive international telecommunications market. The growth for DataVis lies rather in expanding both geographically and operationally, primarily in Sweden. The company has excellent opportunities for organic growth, as demand for the company's services will remain high, and there is also a growth potential in DataVis´ acquisition strategy."