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Skadden, White & Case, Freshfields, Simpson lead elite firms on Europe’s largest software buyout

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and White & Case advised HgCapital as it led a consortium of investors purchasing €4.64bn of stakes in Norwegian software company Visma, in one of Europe’s largest ever software buyouts.

US buyout firm KKR is selling its entire €1.59bn stake in Visma, while private equity firm Cinven is selling 40% of its Visma holdings.

Private equity partners Richard Youle and Katja Butler, left White & Case last month to join Skadden in anticipation of the deal’s announcement. 

White & Case remain advisers to Hg on the debt component of the deal, with a team led by London’s banking partner Colin Harley and Brussels’s antitrust partner Pontus Lindfelt.

The investor group includes Intermedia Capital Group (IGC), Montague, the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) and Visma’s management team.

KKR is advised by Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, alongside ABG Sundal Collier, Morgan Stanley, EY and OC&C, while Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, in a team led by Adrian Maguire and Victoria Sigeti, advised Cinven.

Ropes & Gray advised new client ICG, led by private equity partner Helen Croke and finance partner Malcolm Hitching, who led on the debt aspects of the deal. 

Linklaters advised Montagu with a team led by financial sponsors co-head Alex Woodward.

Oslo-headquartered Visma provides mission critical accounting, resource planning and payroll software to small and medium-sized businesses in the Nordic and Benelux region.

Before the deal, Hg, Cinven and KKR each owned a third of Visma. Following the deal, Hg will hold 41% of Visma, Cinven will retain a 17% share, while Visma management will hold 7%. The rest of the consortium will hold minority stakes.

Hg initially invested €114.8 million in Visma in 2006, completing a public-to-private de-listing from the Oslo stock exchange valuing the business at £382m at that time. HgCapital subsequently continued to hold a stake in the business over the following eight years, before re-investing again in 2014, alongside both KKR and Cinven, each holding 31.3% of the company at that point.

Between 2006 and 2016, Visma’s revenues grew at a compound annual rate of 17. The company completed more than 120 bolt-on acquisitions over the same period and improved operating margins from 15% to 25%.

Schjødt is advising HgCapital on Norwegian aspects of the deal and Wiersholm for Visma and the management team.

Private equity firms have been increasingly interested in software companies in recent years.