Wieners+Wieners/Apostroph Group Acquires German Rival LÓPEZ-EBRI

German-Swiss language service provider Wieners+Wieners/Apostroph Group, which was formed in an April 2017 transaction and is owned by a fund managed by private equity firm ECM, acquired German-based rival LÒPEZ-EBRI.

LÒPEZ-EBRI was founded by Enrique López-Ebri in 1965 and currently employs around 30 in-house translators, revisers and project managers at its location in the German city of Bremen.

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According to Wieners+Wieners CEO Kai-Dominik Weyel, who Slator contacted for this article, among the key drivers for them to pursue the deal were LÒPEZ-EBRI’s customer portfolio anchored in Germany’s Mittelstand (i.e. highly export-oriented SME manufacturing companies), its expertise in medical translations as well as its operational approach using internal translators. Weyel said the LÒPEZ-EBRI client portfolio is complementary and there was no overlap.

LÒPEZ-EBRI was fully owned by its founder, who is retiring after the sale. According to Weyel, LÒPEZ-EBRI will be continued as a separate business but “share internal resources as well as closely cooperate on IT, QA, HR, finance, and marketing.” The current management team led by Carola López Hänninen-Dessau will remain in place.

Brand Stays

Asked if there are plans to unify the Wieners+Wieners, Apostroph, and now  LÒPEZ-EBRI names under a single brand, Weyel said that the “different brands are well known in their respective markets and we will keep the brands.” This is somewhat unusual. While many language service providers retain the brands of target companies for some time post acquisition, they typically state their intention to eventually consolidate under one brand.

Weyel seems to feel very comfortable with the respective positioning of each group company, with Wieners+Wieners focusing on the advertising and marketing space, Apostroph concentrating on the Swiss market, and LÒPEZ-EBRI now adding the medical document sector to the mix.

In terms of translation management and productivity technology, Weyel disclosed that LÒPEZ-EBRI uses SDL Trados, Across and a proprietary translation management system (TMS) and pointed out that there are currently no plans to change this.

The deal brings the group’s total headcount to around 120 full-time equivalents. CEO Weyel projects pro-forma revenues for 2018 of around EUR 25m (USD 29.5m).

Focus on DACH

While the group is fairly diversified in terms of its client base, geographically speaking its sole focus remains the so called D-A-CH region (Germany, Austria, Switzerland). CEO Weyel confirmed they are in talks with other acquisition candidates in this region.

We also asked whether the recent rapid progress in neural machine translation and product launches by the likes of Amazon and Google are leading the company to make adjustments to the way it operates. Weyel pointed out that their focus on marketing content and services such as transcreation, copywriting, iSEO, and multilingual DTP currently “limits the potential benefits of NMT for their customers” but added they are closely monitoring the developments in the industry and might adjust operations accordingly.

Florian Faes

Co-Founder of Slator. Linguist, business developer, and mountain runner. Based in the beautiful lakeside city of Zurich, Switzerland.