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CEOs explain rationale for Content+Cloud and Advania tie-up

Acquisition will add more depth for firm that aims to become the go-to UK provider of connected cloud services

Last month, Content+Cloud was acquired by Nordic player Advania in a move that helped to create a business with a combined turnover of £800m, specialising in cloud services and digital transformation, with a strong focus on Microsoft.

MicroScope was given the chance to put questions to Peter Sweetbaum, CEO of Content+Cloud, and Mikael Noaksson, CEO of Advania, to get a sense of what the deal means.

What were the main reasons for the acquisition?

Peter Sweetbaum: “During the last five and half years, we have undergone significant transformation as a business and growth, with the support of our investment partners, ECI. We knew this partnership had a natural lifecycle and earlier this year was the right time to begin the next phase in Content+Cloud’s growth journey. There were a number of different options open to us, but Advania was by far the most appealing and made the most business sense.

“Culturally, our two organisations share very similar DNA, both being Microsoft-orientated managed services organisations, with customer-centricity at the heart of everything we do.

“What was clear to us during this process, and if you look at the M&A market as a whole, is the level of confidence and belief in the positioning of Microsoft solutions as a key component of digital transformation. Arguably, more than any other technology vendor, Microsoft has built the most comprehensive toolset and transformation architecture, which is translating into demand for companies that genuinely have these capabilities.”

Mikael Noaksson: “Content+Cloud’s ambition and history of rapid growth was a key factor in this acquisition. With a strong and skilled leadership team in place and a common culture that prioritises services excellence, we knew that Content+Cloud would be the perfect addition to the wider group.

“For Advania, it was essential to find the right company. On this point, expansion into the UK was less a consideration of geography and more a consideration of Content+Cloud’s reputation.”  

How does the acquisition reflect the ambitions of both firms?

Sweetbaum: “Operating under Advania’s decentralised model, we can continue with our strong vision and direction, as a leading and the UK’s most awarded Microsoft partner, and as the foundation of the Advania Group’s entry into the UK market.

“As Content+Cloud, we are now able to access the wider portfolio and capabilities of the Advania Group, such as VAR and LSP services. The benefit of an investment partner like Goldman Sachs and the existing investor base also bolsters our ability to continue our own active strategy of acquisition within the UK.

“While not a key driver of the transaction, being part of a business based within the EU will deliver extremely practical benefits as the reality of Brexit continues to become clearer. We have clients who operate both in the EU and the UK, and in some instances globally, and our ability to serve their needs more flexibly and locally is exciting. Advania’s ambitions align with that.”

Noaksson: “When it comes to delivering services excellence for customers, long customer relationships speak volumes. We saw what we valued most in Content+Cloud, which is the dedication and expertise needed to be a trusted technology services partner.

“Content+Cloud’s aptitude for strategic acquisition was, of course, a key factor for us as we continue to be ambitious as a group. Its culture of entrepreneurship and innovation, and its ability to attract the best and brightest talent, is also a key asset to the wider group, as the transfer of knowledge and skills is very much a mutual cross-border benefit.”

What does the acquisition mean for staff and customers?

Noaksson: “Advania’s decentralised model is key to our business and success as a group. The most important factor for us is to deliver excellent services for our customers across all locations, which requires that we maintain local leadership, expertise and skills. Content+Cloud’s leadership team will remain, to lead the business into its next phase of growth in the UK and will play a key role in helping to advise on strategy for the wider group.

“The opportunity for revenue synergies across our organisations is clear, with our breadth of services and Content+Cloud’s capabilities across Microsoft’s stack provides a powerful proposition across the wider group. The most significant change is a positive one for our organisations, as we will look to leverage the unique IP and services that exist to deliver further value for our customers.”

Sweetbaum: “For Content+Cloud, this acquisition is the means by which we can continue our ambitious journey of growth. It enables us to expand our reach and services and to continue to be an attractive and trusted technology partner within the UK market and beyond.

“Remaining unchanged in our ambition and core portfolio, but able to scale offerings and deliver new value for customers, is the reason why Advania was the right choice for us as an organisation, as well as for our customers and employees.

“In addition to the clear benefits for our clients, as an employer of choice, being able to have an outcome which is truly positive for our team is just as important to us. We are very much a family at Content+Cloud, and we are very proud of what we have achieved as a business and as a team. It has taken the commitment and engagement of everyone in the business to create a great environment and makes it a great business to be part of.”

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