On September 29, 2020, German- and Swiss-based language service provider (LSP) Apostroph Group announced the acquisition of Swiss rival GLOBAL TRANSLATIONS GmbH (GT), located near the bilingual Swiss city of Biel. The deal closed on September 24, 2020. Terms were not disclosed.
Slator contacted Apostroph Group CEO and Managing Partner Philipp Meier, who said that Apostroph had been the one to approach GT regarding a possible acquisition.
Apostroph is majority-owned by private equity firm ECM Equity Capital Management and has a history of acquiring LSPs in Germany and Switzerland. Recent acquisitions have included Transcript and LÒPEZ-EBRI (now Medoc) in 2018, BVIW in 2019, and USG in 2020.
Apostroph generated EUR 24.8m (USD 27.8m) in 2019; Meier declined to share revenues or financial metrics for GT.
On the rationale of the transaction, Meier told Slator that GT’s Swiss-focused customer base includes 250 SMEs and additional large corporations, such as NGOs and public authorities. GT is historically “similar to Apostroph Group with a diversified client base, offering a wide range of services,” he said. Moreover, “there is almost zero overlap with the current Apostroph portfolio.”
Integration & Rebranding
Apostroph currently employs 70 staff in Germany and 50 in Switzerland. The Group operates from eight locations across the two countries: Lucerne (HQ), Bern, Lausanne, and Zurich in Switzerland; and Hamburg (HQ), Bremen, Berlin, and Munich in Germany.
A fourth of Apostroph’s 120 staff are internal linguists, who cover German, French, Italian, and English, Meier said. With a total of 10 internal linguists in Switzerland and 20 in Germany, the company is able to service the needs of local customers, who “value this linguistic proximity very much,” he added.
GT founder and current General Manager, Tatjana Greber-Probst, will continue to manage GT together with Meier. She will stay on in the combined organization as Key Account Manager in Switzerland, responsible for managing her client portfolio, Meier added.
Meier also outlined plans for rebranding and integrating GT into Apostroph adding that, as a first step, GT’s business operations will be migrated to Apostroph’s APOS platform.
The GT name will stay for now and the company will be known as “GLOBAL TRANSLATIONS, Member of the Apostroph Group,” until it is brought under the Apostroph Bern AG umbrella in the next six to nine months. The legal merger will happen in 2021, Meier said.
Operating a rebranding strategy is complex for a serial dealmaker like Apostroph; Wieners + Wieners, which acquired Apostroph Group in 2017, is currently branded as “Wieners + Wieners, Member of Apostroph Group.” The Medoc name (formerly LÒPEZ-EBRI) will continue to exist as the Group’s life sciences brand for the moment.
According to the CEO, both companies work mainly with SDL GroupShare. There are also some cases where GT’s clients use other translation tools, “such as Transit and XTM, etc.,” Meier said. In these instances, the tools “will be integrated in accordance with contractual requirements,” he added.
Covid-19 & 2020 Outlook
Asked about the impact on Covid-19 on Apostroph’s business, Meier told Slator that the company “has had an excellent year in Switzerland so far.” In Germany, Apostroph has seen “a bigger dip, but is back on track.”
“Some industry sectors or clients have generated little or no revenue since the lockdown. Others have been more active through their communication around corona and have generated more revenue” — Philipp Meier, CEO and Managing Partner, Apostroph Group
The impact has been felt differently across various client sectors, Meier said: “Some industry sectors or clients have generated little or no revenue since the lockdown. Others have been more active through their communication around corona and have generated more revenue.”
Meier believes that it is “difficult to provide a more precise forecast for the rest of the year [since] the market is under pressure not only because of corona, but mostly through the arrival of new technologies and players.” Despite the unpredictability of the situation, he remains optimistic that “we will end 2020 with double-digit growth.”
“Digitization has been around for a long time but, with Covid, it has gained incredible momentum. We believe that less digitally-oriented companies will encounter more and more difficulties to keep their revenue or growth. As a result, more and more M&A opportunities will present themselves” — Philipp Meier, CEO and Managing Partner, Apostroph Group
Meier also said he thinks that Covid-19 is likely to lead to more M&A opportunities for acquiring LSPs: “Digitization has been around for a long time but, with Covid, it has gained incredible momentum. We believe that less digitally-oriented companies will encounter more and more difficulties to keep their revenue or growth. As a result, more and more M&A opportunities will present themselves.”