ECM-managed fund supports combination of Wieners+Wieners and Swiss Apostroph Group
- Combination of Apostroph Group and Wieners+Wieners creates leading language service provider in German-speaking Europe
- Second investment in the language services market nine months after the acquisition of Wieners+Wieners as part of buy-and-build strategy
- Additional organic growth and active participation in the consolidation of the attractive and fragmented market for premium language services in German-speaking Europe
Frankfurt am Main/Lucerne, 10 April 2017 – With support from German Equity Partners IV (‘GEP IV’), a fund managed by the independent private equity firm ECM Equity Capital Management GmbH (‘ECM’), the fund’s portfolio company Wieners+Wieners has acquired the Apostroph Group (‘Apostroph’), a leading provider of high-quality translation services based in Switzerland, from a private Swiss individual as well as from a private investor represented by investment company Wineus Capital. As part of the transaction, the current managing director Mr Philipp Meier continues in his role and becomes shareholder in the combined group. The parties have agreed to not disclose the purchase price or any additional details of the transaction.
The acquisition of Apostroph comes nine months after the investment in Wieners+Wieners, a leading premium provider of high-quality language services in Germany, which represents the first step in carrying out the planned buy-and-build strategy in German-speaking Europe. The combination of the two companies will create the leading premium provider of language services in German-speaking Europe (Germany, Austria and Switzerland). Both Wieners+Wieners and Apostroph will continue to operate under their current brand names as well as their current management teams, with both companies being managed by a joint holding company. The combined entity will provide a powerful and diversified platform for further growth; the two companies plan to realise this growth through active consolidation in the fragmented language services market, with assistance from GEP IV as financially strong partner with experience in supporting the execution of growth strategies.
To generate additional organic growth, Apostroph and Wieners+Wieners will closely cooperate and combine their capacities and industry-specific expertise. Together, Apostroph and Wieners+Wieners will provide language and translation services in more than 70 languages by drawing on a network of over 1,500 native-speaker translators, as well as more than 20 internal language experts in translation and proofreading. While Apostroph focuses on customers in the pharmaceutical, medical, chemical, industrial, insurance and financial industries, Wieners+Wieners primarily works for advertising agencies along with PR and marketing departments of corporate customers. In future, the two companies will serve more than 3,500 customers in Germany and Switzerland. Additional potential and advantages for customers result from, for example, the mutual use of highly efficient IT systems and cross-border service for internationally active customers.
From translation agency to professional language service provider
Founded in 1994, Apostroph offers its customers a broad range of professional and high-quality translation services – from professional translations and proofreading through to the (notarial/official) certification of documents in over 50 languages. Like Wieners+Wieners in Germany, the firm has continuously developed to become a professional language services provider over the past two decades. Today the firm provides high-quality and consistent translation services with minimal turnaround time for a wide range of industrial and corporate customers, using specialised translators and proprietary IT systems and software solutions. Apostroph currently has around 25 employees at four locations throughout Switzerland. Over the past few years, the firm has managed to significantly expand its customer base through, among other measures, the integration of four independent translation agencies located in Bern, Lausanne and Zurich.
Continuity in management
Philipp Meier, who has acted as managing director of the firm since 2010, will continue in his role. Together with Kai-Dominik Weyel, managing partner of Wieners+Wieners, he will drive the continued development of both companies. Both managing partners will be supported by an advisory board, whose members are experienced experts from relevant industries and which will actively accompany the future growth and development of the two companies.
Philipp Meier, now managing partner of Apostroph, said: “Since its founding more than 20 years ago, the Apostroph Group has become one of the leading providers of high-quality translation and language services in Switzerland. ECM has the necessary experience and expertise to support growth processes as well as buy-and-build strategies. I look forward to collaborating with Wieners+Wieners, taking advantage of existing and future growth opportunities in the still very fragmented market for language services in German-speaking Europe. Support from the ECM-managed fund GEP IV, which is a financially strong partner, will be of great advantage in this regard.”
Kai-Dominik Weyel, managing partner of Wieners+Wieners, added: “We are very excited to work with Apostroph and are confident that we will jointly accelerate our growth course significantly. In addition to the geographic expansion into Switzerland, the combination of our capacities also offers a broader range of services for our customers that addresses all sectors of the economy. Furthermore, the network of translators, which has now grown to more than 1,500, and the sharing of IT systems make it possible for us to process customers’ projects even faster and more efficiently.”
Florian Kähler, partner at ECM, stated: “With Apostroph, the leading premium language services provider in Switzerland has been acquired within nine months after the investment in Wieners+Wieners. The combination of two strong brands with multiple locations in Germany and Switzerland creates an important international platform that will generate further growth and allow an active participation in the consolidation of the industry in German-speaking Europe. We look forward to pursuing this path together with the teams at Apostroph and Wieners+Wieners.”
Following investments in Bergmann Automotive (automobile supplier), Medifox (software provider in the care market), Leitner (travel operator), Wieners+Wieners and Dermatologikum Hamburg (dermatological clinic), the acquisition of the Apostroph Group marks the sixth investment of GEP IV. The fund is equipped with €230 million in equity capital, is managed exclusively by ECM and seeks majority investments in mid-sized enterprises in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. For this transaction, GEP IV was advised by Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy as well as Meyerlustenberger Lachenal (legal), goetzpartners (market due diligence), Ernst & Young (financial and tax), McDermott Will & Emery (structuring) and Willis Towers Watson (insurance). The parties at ECM responsible for the transaction are Florian Kähler, Alexander Schönborn and Max Thielemann. Wineus Capital supported the complete sales process for both selling shareholders of Apostroph as lead advisor. Legal consultation was provided to the previous owners by Rappold Köhli Attorney at Law.
About ECM Equity Capital Management GmbH
ECM is an independent private equity firm with headquarters in Frankfurt am Main. ECM served or serves as the manager of or advisor to the private equity funds German Equity Partners I–IV, with aggregate capital under management of €685 million. The investment focus is on established medium-sized companies. The funds typically structure their investments as management buyouts. The primary focus is on growth investments as part of ownership succession situations and corporate divestitures. Additional information at: www.ecm-pe.de.
About the Apostroph Group
The Apostroph Group is one of Switzerland’s leading language services providers for corporate customers. Since its founding in 1994, the firm has undergone continuous development and today has a total of four locations across Switzerland. The firm – thanks to its 400 certified translators and more than 20 years of experience in the industry – guarantees a high standard of quality and service tailored to its customers. The Apostroph Group is certified in accordance with ISO 9001 and ISO 17100. Additional information at: http://www.apostrophgroup.ch/.
About Wineus Capital
As a division of Wineus AG, Wineus Capital realizes direct investments in private companies located in Switzerland and the neighbouring countries on behalf of entrepreneurs and wealthy families. Wineus AG is a finance boutique led by entrepreneurs with offices in Zug and Zurich. In addition to offering consulting services in the fields of mergers and acquisitions, financing and capital market transactions within its advisory division, Wineus specializes on the structuring, execution and active management of investments in privately held companies in its Wineus Capital division. The investment focus is on the implementation of corporate succession projects and on growth financing for private companies. Additional information at: www.wineus.ch.
On behalf of the Apostroph Group/Wieners+Wieners/ECM:
Charles Barker Corporate Communications GmbH
Jan Hromadko, Kornelia Spodzieja, telephone: +49 (0)69 7940 9044