Thursday 21 September 2017

Irish cloud company Blueface raises €10m from BDO as it plans international expansion

Deal is the largest ever single investment by BDO's Development Capital Fund, writes Gavin McLoughlin

BDO fund investment director Anthony O’Driscoll, Blueface group CEO Alan Foy, BDO fund
head of investments Andrew Bourg
BDO fund investment director Anthony O’Driscoll, Blueface group CEO Alan Foy, BDO fund head of investments Andrew Bourg
Gavin McLoughlin

Gavin McLoughlin

Irish cloud telephony company Blueface has raised €10m from the BDO Development Capital Fund as it seeks to accelerate its international expansion plans.

It's the largest single investment made by the BDO fund. Blueface, which employs 50 people in Dublin, will seek to grow its workforce by 80 people across its markets in Ireland, Europe and the US over the next five years on foot of the deal.

"As part of our international growth strategy, we needed to rocket-fuel our capability around hires and market entry, and we've teamed up with BDO to facilitate that growth, in both Europe and the US," Blueface group chief executive Alan Foy told the Sunday Independent.

"We're seeing a huge opportunity in the US. There's a common thought that in the US, they're ahead of the game from a technology perspective. But what we've found is that our platform has been really well received by everyone we've met in the US and we think we've got a unique proposition to bring to market," he added.

"A lot of what we'll done and continue to do is build out our platform for localisation, so you have the localised nuances ... and really grow the sales and marketing and delivery aspects of our business in those markets.

"Increasingly we've moved up the value chain in terms of the type of customers we're serving, to more corporate and enterprise-type customers. They're multi-geography customers so you need to be where they are."

The company provides a service enabling businesses to bring their landline and mobiles together onto a single platform. It has been backed by Guinness heir Lord Edward Iveagh and expanded into the US, France, Germany and Spain late last year. Previously it considered a stock-market flotation but abandoned the plan, citing market volatility and cultural and integration difficulties relating to two potential acquisitions. Foy said thereafter that the firm would embark on a "massive international expansion".

The deal sees the BDO fund take an undisclosed stake in the business. Its investment director, Anthony O'Driscoll, will join Blueface's board. Beauchamps Solicitors and Deloitte acted for the BDO Development Capital Fund while Blueface were advised by Mason Hayes & Curran.

The €75m BDO fund is roughly two-thirds invested, said the fund's head of investments, Andrew Bourg.

"We've got a very strong pipeline for the rest of the investment, we see it being fully invested by the latter part of this year. Part of our role is to find the best companies and the portfolio is building very, very nicely," Bourg said.

During the week the fund announced it had invested €3.2m in confectionery maker Broderick's. It has also invested in Lifes2Good, the beauty products company sold recently for €150m, and security and surveillance company Netwatch. Bourg said the fund had been impressed by Blueface's management team, proprietary software, and a market expanding at a fast rate.

The fund offers investee companies the chance to tap into the expertise of its partners, which include Bank of Ireland, CRH, Glanbia and Enterprise Ireland. Each has invested in the fund. Foy said he would look to leverage that experience as he looks to build a "scalable global business".

"We've had opportunities to sell the business, and we've turned those opportunities down. The idea really is to build a scalable Irish success story. We needed an investment partner that recognises that.

"I look at brands like CRH or Paddy Power or Glen Dimplex and others, I genuinely think Irish entrepreneurs sell out too early ... we need to build the next big Irish success story and to do that there are different points on your trajectory on your journey. You need to take in external capital to make sure you deliver on that promise."

Sunday Indo Business

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