Apostroph Group Tucks in Boutique Language Service Provider USG in Switzerland

DACH-region language service provider (LSP) Apostroph Group is back in familiar territory in 2020, having acquired boutique rival USG Übersetzungs-Service AG. The terms of the deal, completed on January 31, 2020, were not disclosed.

Apostroph Group has been majority-owned by private equity firm ECM Equity Capital Management since 2016. The German-headquartered LSP has a history of executing a buy-and-build strategy in the DACH region (Germany, Austria, Switzerland), acquiring two boutique LSPs in 2018 and another, BVIW, in 2019.

Apostroph Group Managing Partner Philipp Meier told Slator that USG will be rebranded under Apostroph Group as part of its Swiss arm, Apostroph Bern AG. Though he declined to share financial metrics for USG, Meier said that it had around 400 active clients in its portfolio, based mainly in Switzerland and Germany.

The two companies share just a small number of clients, which contributed to making USG an “excellent fit for Apostroph,” Meier said. He added that Apostroph regularly scans the DACH market for acquisition prospects — which is how USG, a family-owned business whose owner was planning a succession, landed on Apostroph’s radar.

Slator 2019 Language Industry M&A and Funding Report

34-page report. Language industry M&A and startup funding. Transaction valuations, trade sales, financial backing, private equity influence, main rationale, seller verticals, geographical analysis, startup funding analysis.

Meier also said that Max Berounsky, USG’s Managing Director, will stay on as Key Account Manager in Apostroph’s Bern office. The combined organization now has around 120 FTEs.

Philipp Meier, Managing Partner, Apostroph Group

A DACH-regional champion, Apostroph featured in the Leader segment of the Slator 2019 Language Service Provider Index (LSPI) for its 2018 revenues of USD 26.5m. Meier told Slator the company grew around 7% in 2019 to approximately EUR 25m (USD 28.1m) in 2019.

He outlined Apostroph’s plans for tucking in USG, saying that customer ordering would be migrated to Apostroph’s platform. Streamlining operations was a quick task; both companies use the same productivity (CAT) tools and USG’s business process management (ERP) was integrated on the first day post-acquisition.

Asked about his take on the impact of German-based machine translation (MT) phenom DeepL on customer perceptions of MT, Meier replied, “We see this change moving on since more than two years and address the new technological solutions with our clients and seek to advise them on the most fit and attractive solution.”

According to Meier, the Swiss and German markets continue to be an attractive landscape for Apostroph. Given that both are highly competitive and fragmented in nature, Switzerland and Germany make “a good fit for our buy-and-build case,” he said.