Software business partial share sale: Iceni Technology

Acuity Advisors helped secure a strategic sale for a Norwich-based software company

Here is how we did it…

The opportunity

Iceni Technology are a leading developer of tools and services for Portable Document Format (PDF) software and the company is ambitious to take its latest innovative development to a bigger market. Acuity Advisors successfully acted as business brokers, concluding a partial share sale on behalf of Iceni Technology to help take it to the next level.

The business

Since setting up in 1997, Iceni Technology has created a unique portfolio of products using its core PDF technologies. Thanks to its extensive experience working with both the media and print industries, Iceni Technology has developed and fine-tuned a PDF interpretation engine that is now ripe for further commercial exploitation. The firm specialises in creating tailored and customised software solutions for clients. A range of Iceni’s desktop products are sold around the world and are installed on hundreds of thousands of computers globally.

More recently Iceni Technology has diversified into a range of mass market applications and believes that its latest development, Infix, has huge global potential for SMEs and individuals. Unlike similar products, which are unwieldy with severe restrictions on use, Infix is simple to operate and is a seamless PDF editor without the limitations of many of its competitor’s products. It works just like a word processor with spell-checking, reflow, and search and replace capabilities. Iceni Technology is convinced that Infix stands out from the competition.

The need

“PDF has become the de facto standard and therefore any software solution which offers the ability to edit and change PDFs is going to have mass market appeal,” said Simon Crowfoot, Director of Iceni Technology. “Iceni has a substantial amount of IPR, which provides potential customers with a suite of must‐have tools. The challenge for us was how to take this message and our software to the world.”

In order to do this investment was needed. A couple of major challenges had to be addressed to help Iceni Technology move in a new business direction and convince interested parties to back the business’ potential:

• Securing a suitable strategic investment partner:

To garner high levels of interest and secure the right type of strategic partner, Iceni Technology knew it had to recruit a professional team which was highly experienced in the software sector. Iceni also needed someone with a proactive and professional approach, and the right type of portfolio.

• Convincing interested parties of the value proposition:

Iceni Technology set out to work with a corporate advisor with a deep understanding, passion and high level of empathy with its value proposition to attract the desired levels of interest.

The team at Iceni Technology knew it was in their best interests to use a corporate finance house that could get under the skin of its business and had the perfect handle on what they were aiming to achieve. The company also wanted a professional team with a track record of getting results in their specialist field – and it was quickly apparent that Acuity was the perfect fit.

“I was surprised that there were very few corporate advisors who really understand software and the software industry,” added Simon Crowfoot. “Acuity were recommended to us through a investment bank and from our first meeting it was apparent we were on the same wavelength.”

The approach

Acuity’s unrivalled experience and track record in the software industry and its proactive “can-do” attitude was the ideal solution for Iceni Technology’s requirements. Acuity’s level of insight, ability to talk the same language and passion for the product led to them quickly understanding what Iceni wanted to achieve. Acuity encouraged Iceni’s management to tweak and refine some of their ideas and were not afraid to highlight any potential flaws in their plans via constructive criticism. Crucially, Acuity also focussed on outlining Iceni’s value proposition in compelling but layman’s terms.

Acuity’s proposed strategy of a dual-track method of approaching potential trade buyers and strategic investors suited Iceni’s desire for smart investment. Acuity also used their previous expertise, excellent network of contacts and tenacious working practices to target prospective targets before approaching them directly. Management meetings were set up with potential partners and Acuity provided Iceni with invaluable advice on how to handle themselves in these crucial meetings. They also coached Iceni’s bosses on how to best convey their value proposition in the most engaging manner.

During the entire five-month process, Acuity used its unique mix of skills and expertise to secure the best possible outcome for Iceni Technology.

The result

Following a series of top-level management meetings with an array of prospective parties, Acuity procured six different offers from both strategic investors and trade buyers. After coaching them through the decision-making process, and recommending a legal team for contract negotiation, Acuity advised Iceni to accept a strategic investment involving a cash‐out payment to the shareholders. This gave the existing owners the ability to participate in the future potential of the business while recognising some of the value they had contributed to date. This investment has already seen revenue double for Iceni.

“We were very pleased with our choice to use Acuity. The strategic investment has added a lot of focus to our Infix product portfolio and we continue to make significant advancements in terms of market share,” added Simon Crowfoot.

A conversation is never wasted. We’re confident that we can give you all the help you need, but we’ll tell you if we think there’s a better option for you.

Get in Touch Get in touch now