Keatinge's Version 1 looks to raise €20m
Fast-growing Irish IT firm aims for two UK acquisitions
Justin Keatinge's fast-growing technology firm Version 1 is planning to raise up to €20m from investors to fuel a major expansion drive into the UK market. It is understood that the €60m valued software and IT firm has hired Goodbody Stockbrokers to advise on the fundraiser.
Version 1 is looking at two further acquisitions in coming months, as it inked a deal to buy Edinburgh-based Rocela Group last week. In November, Version 1 bought the UK business operations of northern European IT Services company Tieto Corporation.
Mr Keatinge's company is working on a strategy to become Ireland's first indigenous €1bn IT and software business.
The company has earmarked the proposed new funds to help buy companies as its develops its presence in the UK market.
Version 1 may seek to raise further funding from investors later this year.
However, co-founder Mr Keatinge has also indicated that the firm may look at a stock-market listing on London's AIM or Dublin's ESM as early as next year if it needs to raise larger sums.
The company, which employs more than 400 staff across Ireland and the UK, has two distinct arms. It builds IT systems for companies such as Airtricity, 123.ie and Irish Life, and it also manages those systems for clients.
Version 1 is Amazon.com's largest European partner for its cloud-based computing business. The company has also clocked up significant experience when it comes to managing state contracts in Ireland.
This track record will become increasingly valuable as it expands in the UK, as David Cameron's government has committed to divvying up a large proportion of state contracts to small and medium-sized businesses, rather than simply handing them over to big multinationals.
Version 1 was set up by Mr Keatinge in 1996 and has become one of the largest indigenous technology companies on the Irish market, competing with international giants such as Accenture.
The company now has sales of more than €40m. It has never taken outside funding, with all the shares owned by Mr Keatinge and his partners.
Version 1 and Goodbody are likely to target three separate types of investors, with investor groups backed by the National Pension Reserve Fund, institutional or private equity backers and high-net-worth individuals likely to be pitched in coming weeks.
International appetite for investing in Irish IT and technology companies has improved over the past year, with a number of significant buyouts including the $100m IBM purchase of Tom Morrisroe's big data and analytic group The Now Factory topping the scales.
New VC and private equity players have entered the market, including the Declan Ryan-backed Frontline Venture, CarTrawler buyer ECI and US group Polaris.