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Comparex: Just two buyers left in sales negotiations

Owner Raiffeisen Bank offloading after upheaval for interests in Ukraine, Russia

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Microsoft reseller titan Comparex has whittled down its list of prospective buyers to just two, The Channel can reveal.

A sales process for the pan-regional reseller began some months ago with investment bank Jefferies sending out a commercial prospectus or Information Memorandum.

Sources in the investment community told us the field of potential buyers had narrowed to several financial institutions.

“These are private equity businesses, not direct competitors,” said one well-placed source.

We at El Chan Towers always believed a new proprietor was likely to come from the investment community, even though we quipped recently that Comparex could be an ambitious target for rival Software One, which last month bagged external investment from KKR.

Austria-based owner Raiffeisen Bank wants to sell Comparex before the end of the year, our sources claimed.

The bank has interests in Ukraine and Russia and it is feeling the squeeze, due to the disruption of economic stability following political unrest. Profit in the first half of 2015 halved versus the prior-year period and it refused to provide forecasts on future growth prospects.

Comparex has offices in 31 countries across Europe, Africa, Asia and America. The company turned over €1.7bn in 2014, up €258m year-on-year, restricting the number of viable trade buyers.

The company resells licensing or cloud services from 70 vendors, including CA, Citrix, Symantec and VMware, but is perhaps best known as a Microsoft enterprise licensing biz or licensing solutions provider.

In the UK alone, Comparex has signed some decent wins across the public sector this year, with the biggest being a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement covering the cloud with the MoD, valued at £41m ex VAT.

Life is, however, getting tougher for LSPs as Microsoft slashes the fees they can make for on-premise software sales as a proportion to the overall pot of available compensation. The fees are also being re-purposed, with sellers no longer getting paid for licensing orders but on customers’ utilisation of the software.

Comparex started life in 1986 as a joint venture with Siemens and BASF to sell mainframe systems, but Siemens exited two years later. BASF sold a 40 per cent stake to South African service provider Persetel in 1995 and the rest by 1999.

An MBO took place in 2002 in partnership with TDMI, but TDMI went bust in 2009 and following the insolvency, PC-WARE formed the new company Comparex PC-WARE.

Peruni Holdings, a subsidiary of Raiffeisen Informatik – a system integrator which is owned by Raiffeisen Bank – has owned 100 per cent of Comparex since 2011. ®

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