Exit: Silverfleet Capital sells Phase One to Axcel
Munich, London, Paris — Pan-European private equity firm Silverfleet Capital has signed an agreement to sell Phase One to funds managed by Axcel. Phase One is a leading technology company in the field of high-end digital camera systems and for image processing software. The transaction is still subject to regulatory approval.
Phase One operates two business units: Software Imaging Systems (“SIS”) offers market-leading image processing software for raw (RAW) images under the Capture One brand; it targets both professional and amateur photographers as well as businesses. Image Capture Solutions (“ICS”) has ultra-high-end medium format camera systems in its portfolio that are suitable for aerial photography, for example, and are used by professional and amateur photographers as well as cultural heritage institutions. The company is headquartered in Copenhagen, with additional offices in Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan and the USA.
Silverfleet Capital had acquired a majority stake in Phase One in 2014. The decisive factor was the clear growth potential due to the increasing demand for high-resolution medium-format photography, for example in the field of 3D mapping with aerial images or in homeland security. Since then, Silverfleet Capital has supported the company in its transformation from a strongly hardware-oriented to a software-driven business model. From 2014 to 2018, the SIS unit increased sales by 38 percent. During this period, two acquisitions were also made — including the main Japanese supplier — and substantial investments were made in research and development. This allowed Phase One to push its innovation course in medium format photography. The latest product innovations include the successfully launched IQ4 and IXM systems for photographers and industrial applications.
“We were delighted to work with the management team during this exciting transformation phase and to help Phase One become the market leader in imaging software,” said Rob Knight, Principal at Silverfleet and Advisory Board Member. “We wish Henrik Håkonsson and his team every success for the next stage of growth.”
Henrik Håkonsson, CEO of Phase One, adds: “Thanks to Silverfleet Capital’s strategic and financial support over the past five years, we have been able to further realize our potential. We have overcome technological boundaries and found the right answers to the new needs of our customers in the two business units SIS and ICS.”
Gareth Whiley, Managing Partner of Silverfleet Capital, said, “We could not be more pleased with the outcome from the sale of Phase One. This exit again represents a very successful investment by our company in Scandinavia. There, we continue to actively look for interesting companies — such as Phase One with a differentiated business model and high international growth potential.”
Since 2004, Silverfleet Capital has invested 19 percent of its assets in companies based in Scandinavia. In 2016, the company sold Cimbria, a manufacturer of bulk handling equipment and seed and grain processing equipment based in Denmark, to AGCO Corporation for approximately €310 million. Silverfleet Capital is currently invested in Danish women’s fashion manufacturer Masai.
In the current transaction, Silverfleet Capital was advised by Mooreland Partners (Corporate Finance), Travers Smith and Bech-Bruun (Legal), Deloitte (Financial & Tax Due Diligence), McKinsey (Commercial Due Diligence) and BearingPoint (Technical Due Diligence).
About Silverfleet Capital
Silverfleet Capital has been active as a private equity investor in the European mid-market for more than 30 years. The 30-strong investment team works from Munich, London, Paris, Stockholm and Amsterdam.
Nine investments have already been made from the second independent fund closed in 2015 with a volume of 870 million euros: The Masai Clothing Company, a women’s fashion wholesaler and retailer headquartered in Denmark; Coventya, a French developer of specialty chemicals; Sigma Components, a UK-based manufacturer of precision components for civil aviation; Lifetime Training, a UK-based provider of training programs; Pumpenfabrik Wangen, a manufacturer of specialty pumps based in Germany; Riviera Travel, an operator of escorted group tours and cruises based in the United Kingdom; 7days, a German supplier of medical workwear; Prefere Resins, a leading phenolic and amino resin manufacturer in Europe; and CARE Fertility, a leading operator of fertility clinics in the United Kingdom.
Silverfleet Capital also maintains an investment team focused on smaller middle-market companies, which has already made two successful investments: STAXS Contamination Control Experts, a leading supplier of cleanroom supplies in the Benelux (closed in January 2019), and Microgen Financial Systems, a leading provider of trust and fund administration software to the trust and corporate services industry (pending shareholder approval of seller Aptitude Software Group plc).
Silverfleet achieves value growth by investing in companies in its core sectors that benefit from specific, long-term trends. Silverfleet supports these companies in their future growth strategies. As part of these strategies, investments are made in organic growth drivers, internationalization, strategic acquisitions or operational improvement processes. Since 2004, Silverfleet Capital has invested €2 billion in 30 companies.
Silverfleet specializes in four key industries: Business and Financial Services, Healthcare, Manufacturing, and Retail and Consumer Goods. Since 2004, the private equity investor has invested 31% of its assets in companies headquartered in the DACH region, 33% in the UK and Ireland, 19% in Scandinavia, and 17% in France and the Benelux (includes an investment sourced in Belgium and headquartered in the US).
Silverfleet Capital has a solid investment track record. Most recently, Silverfleet sold Ipes, a leading provider of outsourcing services to European private equity firms (investment multiple 3.7x); CCC, one of the leading BPO services providers in Europe; and Cimbria, a Danish manufacturer of agricultural equipment (investment multiple cannot be disclosed for legal reasons); Kalle, a German manufacturer of artificial sausage sticks (investment multiple 3.5x); OFFICE, a UK-based footwear retailer (investment multiple 3.4x); and Aesica, a leading pharmaceutical CDMO company (investment multiple 3.3x).