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Stake in A-SAFE acquired by IK Partners

A-SAFE (“the Company”) and IK Partners (“IK”) are pleased to announce that the IK Partnership II (“IK PF II”) Fund has acquired a minority stake in the Company. A-SAFE is a global leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of industrial polymer safety barrier systems. IK acquired its stake from the Smith family who remain significantly invested. This is the final investment from the IK PF II Fund, which is now fully committed. Financial terms of the transaction are not disclosed.

Founded in 1984 and headquartered in Yorkshire, United Kingdom, A-SAFE produces a diverse range of polymer-based products which are deployed in factories and warehouses across the world to safeguard both people and assets from collisions with vehicles such as forklifts. The Company has over 700 employees, with over 80 individuals committed to research and development.

As a founder owned and managed business, A-SAFE has achieved significant organic growth and today, serves more than 6,000 customers in over 50 countries. Its diversified customer base comprises some of the world’s largest businesses, including Coca-Cola, UPS and Amazon. With the aim of further strengthening its leadership position in the industrial polymer space globally, the Company has decided to form a partnership with IK.

With the support of IK and its dedicated Partnership Fund, which focuses on minority investments in established fast-growing entrepreneurial businesses, A-SAFE is poised for further growth. Led by James and Luke Smith, the management team is delighted to partner with IK. Together, they aim to unlock growth opportunities and drive innovation, further redefining industry standards.

James and Luke Smith, Co-CEOs at A-SAFE, stated: “We are pleased to be partnering with IK. This is an exciting opportunity for us as we look to fortify our leading position in the market, while simultaneously expanding our global reach, enhancing our product offering and driving greater value for our customers. With IK’s expertise and resources, we are confident that the Company will go from strength-to-strength and we look forward to working with Thomas and his team.”

Thomas Grob, Partner at IK and Advisor to the IK Partnership II Fund, added: “A-SAFE’s expansion into new markets and product segments, alongside its commitment to innovation, has firmly positioned it as an industry leader in workplace safety, protection and efficiency systems. The Company’s ability to anticipate market needs, coupled with its relentless pursuit of product excellence, has garnered our utmost confidence in the management team and its ability to drive positive action. We look forward to working with James, Luke and their team over the next few years.”

For further questions please contact:

IK Partners
Vidya Verlkumar
Phone: +44 (0) 7787 558 193

Press Releases

IK Partners to sell Eres stake to Eurazeo

IK Partners (“IK”) is pleased to announce that the IK VIII Fund has signed an agreement to sell its stake in Eres Group (“Eres” or “the Group”), a leading French financial technology player in the employee profit-sharing and retirement scheme markets, to Eurazeo. Financial terms of the transaction are not disclosed.

Established in 2005 and headquartered in Paris, Eres is a leading French independent player in the advisory, structuring, asset management and distribution of employee profit sharing plans (PEE, PERECO), retirement schemes (PER) and employee shareholding plans. The Group distributes its products through a network of more than 6,600 distributors (wealth management advisors, insurance brokers and accountants) to address the needs of both mid-sized and large French companies. 

With the support of IK since 2019, the management team has: improved operational efficiency through strategic headcount growth; strengthened its commercial team for better distribution of Eres products through its extensive network; achieved inorganic growth with a series of successful acquisitions; and digitised its product offering. Eres has grown its assets under management to €6.7 billion, at a rate of 23% per annum.

Mathieu Chauvin, CEO of Eres, said: “The Eurazeo DNA, focused on culture, agility and growth ambitions, resonates strongly with Eres values, making Eurazeo a clear partner of choice for our next stage of growth. We are excited to partner with them and leverage their deep sector expertise and transformational growth experience. We also want to thank the team at IK for their outstanding support over the last few years.”

Rémi Buttiaux, Managing Partner at IK Partners and Advisor to the IK VIII Fund, said: ““Eres has almost tripled in size during our five-year partnership with them. Through operational improvement initiatives, significant investment in its people, digitalisation of the product offering and add-on acquisitions, the Group has cemented its position as a leading player in the French fintech market. We wish Mathieu, his team and their new owners every success in the next stage of the Group’s development.” Completion of the transaction is subject to legal and regulatory approvals.

For further questions, please contact:

IK Partners
Vidya Verlkumar
Phone: +44 (0) 7787 558 193

Portfolio Company News

Questel Achieves New Milestone for AI-Elevated Intellectual Property Solutions with Strategic Acquisition of qatent

Questel, a global leader in intellectual property (IP) management and technology services, is proud to announce the acquisition of qatent, a tech company whose use of artificial intelligence (AI) has broken new ground in the IP sector. This acquisition will bring forth a new era of sophisticated, AI-enhanced tools and services that will elevate global IP portfolio management. Questel’s acquisition of qatent represents a key component of its strategy to integrate AI-driven solutions into software and services at a level never before seen in the IP industry. With its extensive generative AI expertise and proven applications, qatent aligns perfectly with Questel’s vision for elevated AI-driven IP solutions.

qatent emerged from the distinguished AI research center INRIA Paris and has since become a cornerstone of innovation in the use of AI for IP management thanks to the leadership of its diverse and international team. Founded by a French IP attorney and a leading German AI researcher, from the Université Paris-Saclay, a European scientific and technological excellence cluster, qatent is not only pioneering the application of AI technologies in patent search and drafting but has already achieved notable success in these areas.

Remarking on the acquisition, Charles Besson, CEO at Questel, said: “The significance of AI in our field necessitates an internalized approach which partnerships simply cannot offer. In addition to immediately impacting patent drafting and searching, AI will directly benefit several of our other products such as Equinox, our highly successful IPMS solution.” 

Echoing this sentiment, François Veltz, CEO at qatent, said: “qatent has always positioned the IP practitioners at the heart of its strategy, with the aim of augmenting them through machine capabilities.” “The unparalleled richness and structure of the Questel global patent, trademark and design databases is an incredible learning ground for our algorithms and will quickly give more depth to our calculations,” added Kim Gerdes, CTO at qatent.

Joining the Questel group enables qatent to overcome several previously insurmountable obstacles; in particular, the confidentiality of customer data according to the ISO 27001 standard for information security, cybersecurity, and privacy protection.

Questel’s integration of qatent’s capabilities not only enriches Questel’s AI Labs network across France, Germany, the USA, and Japan but also reaffirms its position as a tech leader in the IP services sector.

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Press Releases

IK Partners to invest in Checkmate Fire

IK Partners (“IK”) is pleased to announce that the IK Small Cap III (“IK SC III”) Fund has signed
an agreement to acquire Checkmate Fire (“Checkmate” or “the Company”), the UK’s largest
passive fire protection specialist, from YFM Equity Partners (“YFM”). IK is making its first UK investment from the Fund’s dedicated pool of Development Capital. The existing management
team will be reinvesting alongside IK. Financial terms of the transaction are not disclosed.

Established in 1989 and headquartered in West Yorkshire, Checkmate provides a comprehensive range of passive fire protection services to organisations across the Healthcare, Education, Government, Social Housing and Commercial sectors. The Company inspects, installs, remediates and maintains passive fire systems and also provides installation and maintenance of active fire systems.

Checkmate operates across the UK and has over 200 employees. The Company is responsible for maintaining passive fire systems in around 2,000 buildings nationally to ensure compliance with increasingly stringent regulations, carrying out over 30,000 fire door remediations or replacements per year. The focus is on maintaining fire doors rather than replacing them; an approach that aligns with the Company’s commitment to strong environmental, social and governance practices across the business.

Since YFM’s investment and under the existing management team, Checkmate has scaled rapidly, expanding its service offering and supporting more customers in managing their passive fire systems through multi-year contracts. In partnership with IK, Checkmate will look to further develop its passive fire offering, particularly its inspections division, in a market with compelling long-term growth dynamics. The Company will also continue to invest in its people and technology to enhance operational efficiency, while also executing a targeted M&A strategy.

Completion of the transaction is subject to regulatory approvals.

John Lewthwaite, CEO at Checkmate, said: “We are very much looking forward to working with IK after a successful partnership with YFM. IK’s track record of supporting businesses in the fire protection market, combined with our position as UK’s leading passive fire specialist, means that we are best placed to drive future growth in a market with attractive dynamics. We would like to take this opportunity to thank YFM for all their support and guidance over the last five years.”

Simon May, Partner at IK and Advisor to the IK SC III Fund, added: “This is an exciting first investment for the IK Development Capital strategy in the UK. Under the stewardship of John and his team, Checkmate has established itself as a high-quality provider in a rapidly growing and increasingly regulated market. We have been impressed with the Company’s journey to date and see plenty of opportunities for continued growth. We look forward to working with the team at Checkmate and leveraging the resources and expertise of the wider IK platform to deliver an ambitious strategy.”

Steve Harrison, Partner at YFM Equity Partners, commented: “It has been an absolute pleasure working with John and the entire team at Checkmate since we first invested in 2018. The business has seen rapid growth and development during this period, establishing itself as the leading player in the UK passive fire protection market. We wish Checkmate the best of luck for the future with the support of IK.”

For further questions, please contact:

Checkmate Fire
Ian Turpin
Phone: +44 7841 443948

IK Partners
Vidya Verlkumar
Phone: +44 (0) 7787 558 193

YFM Equity Partners
Viktoria Harrison
Phone: +44 7716 097 774

Press Releases

IK Partners to invest in Schwingshandl

IK Partners (“IK”) is pleased to announce that the IK Small Cap III (“IK SC III”) Fund has signed an agreement to invest in Schwingshandl automation technology GmbH (“Schwingshandl” or “the Company”), a leading provider of smart intralogistics automation solutions based in Austria. IK is partnering with the founders, Thomas Schwingshandl and Enrico Larcher, who will both retain a significant minority share in the Company. Financial terms of the transaction are not disclosed.

Founded in 2003 and headquartered near Linz, Austria, Schwingshandl provides innovative, made-to-measure automation solutions for a broad range of end-market applications. The Company specialises in designing, engineering and assembling customised modules and sub-systems such as storage and distribution technology, lifts, conveyor systems, (de-) palletisers, (de-) stackers and (un-) loading stations. Schwingshandl is a long-term partner to blue-chip customers globally, focusing on the development of high quality, complex intralogistics solutions, leveraging its successful automation track record of over 20 years.

Since inception, Schwingshandl has demonstrated impressive growth, in a large part due to the entrepreneurial spirit of the founders as well as the dedication of its 90 employees. The Company recently finalised the expansion of its production facility and has firmly established itself as a leading provider of customised warehouse automation solutions. In partnership with IK, Schwingshandl will look to: continue investing in its people and organisation; selectively broaden its service offering; and pursue international expansion. Both founders will retain their respective leadership positions on Schwingshandl’s management board and will remain significantly invested in the Company.

Thomas Schwingshandl, Founder and CEO of Schwingshandl, said: “The rise of warehouse automation is a key trend we are seeing across various end-industries, presenting attractive growth opportunities for a Company like ours. We are excited to welcome an experienced partner like IK on board. The team at IK has already recognised Schwingshandl’s potential for development and possesses both the experience and expertise to support our ongoing expansion strategy.”

Nils Pohlmann, Partner at IK and Advisor to the IK SC III Fund, said: “Under the stewardship of Thomas, Enrico and their team, Schwingshandl has established itself as a leading provider of customised intralogistics automation solutions in Europe. We have been extremely impressed with the Company’s journey to date and look forward to utilising our significant experience in the automation technology sector to unlock further value.”

For further questions, please contact:

IK Partners
Vidya Verlkumar
Phone: +44 (0) 7787 558 193

Portfolio Company News

Renta Acquires Rondellen

Renta Group Oy (“Renta Group” or “Renta”) has reached an agreement to acquire Näs Rondellen AB (“Rondellen” or “the Company”). Rondellen is a Swedish general rental company operating in the greater Gothenburg area. The Company also provides traffic safety solutions to its customers. The Company has four depots, more than 45 employees and annual revenues of more than SEK 130 million.

With the acquisition Renta further strengthens its position in the greater Gothenburg area. Rondellen complements Renta’s geographical presence and adds to Renta’s capabilities in the region within infrastructure customers and in traffic safety solutions. The Company has a solid profitability and enjoys a good reputation among its customers. As part of Renta, Rondellen will continue to serve its customers with the same high-quality services as before and further benefit from leveraging Renta’s full product range and from implementing Renta’s digital solutions.

The acquisition is expected to be completed in March 2024.

Kari Aulasmaa, CEO of Renta Group, said: “The acquisition of Rondellen marks a continuation of our strategic agenda to build nationwide rental networks in our core markets. Rondellen is an excellent fit to Renta thanks to its complementary presence around Gothenburg and its capabilities in traffic safety. With the acquisition Renta’s position in the region will be further strengthened. We are very pleased to join forces and look forward to working together with the professionals of Rondellen. “

Samuel Lundberg, CEO of Rondellen, said: “We are excited about becoming a part of Renta, a company that shares our ambition to grow and develop the business further. Joining forces with Renta will extend our product offering to site modules, tunnelling equipment and pumps, enabling us to serve our customers with a broader offering than before. In addition, our customers will benefit from the digital solutions that Renta has developed, such as Renta Easy. I am confident that Renta will provide a good home for our employees, and that we will together be able to accelerate growth in the region.”