New horizons for IT business following acquisition by PE investor

A Yorkshire IT business founded 33 years ago has been sold to an international private equity company.

Human Computer Interaction (York) Ltd, which trades as HCI, has been sold to Advantos Equity Partners, London, for a significant but undisclosed sum.

The deal was advised on by Yorkshire accountants and business advisers, Azets.

It was negotiated after HCI managing director, Michael Jeffrey, approached the Azets corporate finance team in York, seeking a buyer so he and two other shareholders could gradually exit the company and realise their investment after growing the business.

HCI, which specialises in bespoke software and web applications, was founded in 1989 by Jeffrey, who was later joined by fellow director, John Bates. The business has eight staff and an annual turnover of more than £700,000.

Advantos, which also has offices in Germany and Norway, comprises a small team of entrepreneurs who buy and invest in small businesses with a focus in technology.

Acquiring HCI York complements other Advantos investments and creates a stronger presence for the business in northern England.

All current HCI staff will remain with the company. Jeffrey and Bates will continue to provide consultancy and support to Advantos as they create new jobs while seeking to acquire complementary businesses in the UK.

Jeffrey said the sale of HCI to Advantos was a great outcome for staff, customers, and shareholders.

He said: “In Advantos we’ve found in a buyer who we believe shares our principles of quality of service, integrity, and respect. Advantos will bring the vision and energy to enable HCI to prosper into the future.”

“The sale of HCI was professionally orchestrated by Azets who produced the prospectus, identified buyers, and negotiated the deal.”

Advantos partner, Benjamin Sommer, said:  “HCI is an established, well-respected company with 30 years experience and we are pleased to have completed its acquisition as part of our IT sector strategy.

“We are looking forward to developing the business into an international player as part of the wider Advantos portfolio and are also currently seeking several complementary acquisitions to further fuel growth.”

Head of Azets corporate team, Tony Farmer, and corporate finance manager, Richard Weston, also provided corporate finance and taxation advice.

Farmer added:  “This deal provides financial rewards for Michael Jeffrey and his fellow shareholders who have developed HCI; a bigger, international business environment for the remaining HCI staff and a skilled IT business with a proven track record for Advantos, complementing other investments in Germany and Norway, in a region where it can benefit from a stronger presence.”

Legal advice on the transaction was provided to HCI by corporate partner at Andrew Jacksons Solicitors, Matthew Smith.