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Thrive buys ONI to broaden geographic footprint

Of the many industries benefiting from pandemic-induced digital transformation, managed service providers (MSPs) have seen some of the fastest growth.

Boston-based MSP Thrive has been at the forefront of this growth, delivering the connectivity, speed and security needed to support the massive increase of employees working from home in the US.

Now, Thrive is launching its international expansion with the acquisition of Luton-based ONI, a hybrid managed IT services provider serving both the public sector and commercial markets. ONI offers a comprehensive range of on-site, cloud, and hybrid technology solutions from their own Tier 3+ Data Centre, and will form a foothold for Thrive to set up a new head of European operations centre in the UK. This will be headed by existing ONI CEO Kevin Kivlochan, who is set to become the Chief Executive for Thrive’s European Operations.

“ONI is a tremendous IT managed services company with deep Cisco WAN, unified communications and cloud expertise,” said Thrive CEO Rob Stephenson. “We were attracted by a strong management team and customer base and a desirable geographic location just north of London.”

Thrive’s acquisition of ONI, which was advised by Acuity, marks the firm’s eleventh acquisition since 2016, following the recent purchases of  East Coast firms Howard Tech Advisors and Apex IT Group. Both of which were aimed at scaling Thrive’s domestic presence.

From its growing number of regional bases, Thrive is well-positioned to serve increased demand for managed IT services. This is bolstered by widespread working from home – creating a dynamic market for MSP firms that can address the connectivity issues and cybersecurity concerns of distributed organizations.

Even prior to covid, the MSP market saw high levels of dealmaking activity. But now we could be set for even more consolidation as MSPs use acquisition to broaden their geographic reach and expand into new verticals. Aside from Thrive’s purchase of ONI, several deals in this vein have been sealed in 2021 so far, including the April acquisition of Birmingham-based cybersecurity firm Enforce Technology, which was purchased by London-based MSP Fifosys to broaden its footprint within the UK.

“I’m thrilled to have supported the shareholders of ONI on the sale to Thrive, representing another great transaction for Acuity in the Telecoms, Cloud & Managed Services space. We were appointed as a result of our unique sector insight, perspective on the sector and access to global buyers. No other mid-market advisors can deploy a comparable team of M&A professionals who have worked in senior roles in the industry. This is our fifth TCMS transaction to close in three months, and I look forward to announcing more transactions in the coming weeks.”

MARCUS ALLCHURCH | Partner
Acuity Advisors

Marcus joined Acuity in 2014, before which he held senior leadership and corporate finance positions with some of the UK’s most successful advisory and telecoms businesses. Roles with EE, KPMG Corporate Finance and BDO Corporate Finance have seen Marcus work in the UK and across the globe with successful entrepreneurs seeking exit, and at board level with multi-national corporates looking for growth through organic and inorganic investment.

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