SwissGlobal Buys Rival (and Neighbor) Semiotic Transfer

Translation Agency SwissGlobal Buys Language Service Provider Semiotics Transfer

Boutique language service provider (LSP) SwissGlobal recently announced that it had purchased neighboring LSP Semiotic Transfer in a deal that closed on May 1, 2020.

According to SwissGlobal CEO Matthias Trümpy, talks about the acquisition started in 2019. He declined to share the purchase price. Trümpy founded SwissGlobal in 2016. Before that, he was CFO and then CEO of Swiss-based LSP CLS Communication, which was sold to Lionbridge in late 2014.

Semiotic Transfer was owned by Arno Giovannini, who, “after a brief handover phase, will continue to be involved in the company in an advisory capacity.”

The combined company now has 15 full-time employees. SwissGlobal and Semiotic Transfer were actually located on the same street in the Swiss city of Baden, which, according to Trümpy, “certainly played a role when we made the final decision.”

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He added, “The short communication channels were very helpful in the negotiation phase and are helpful during the integration process.” (The Semiotic Transfer team will move into SwissGlobal’s offices.)

Of course, proximity was not the only factor in the decision. Trümpy said, “We focus on complementary market verticals and, therefore, can expand the service portfolio we offer our clients. We are combining our respective industry knowledge and can also leverage on our technical expertise.”

Trümpy told Slator that there was no significant overlap in clients between the two companies, pointing out that Semiotic offers certified translations, specialist translations, and transcreation services for small and medium businesses, while SwissGlobal typically works with medium to large clients. “These clients typically operate in highly regulated sectors; therefore, SwissGlobal adheres to the highest security and quality standards,” he said.

Trümpy believes a combined investment in IT and software will benefit customers, employees, and both companies. SwissGlobal is currently reviewing Semiotic’s proprietary translation management system (TMS). He said SwissGlobal — which uses Plunet as its TMS, works mostly with SDL, and is piloting translate5 — has “an agnostic, pragmatic approach” and does not believe in “restricting ourselves to one specific CAT tool. Each CAT tool has its advantages and disadvantages.”

Beginning April 2020, Covid-19 reduced demand for certified translations, which triggered a dip in revenue for Semiotic Transfer. But Trümpy said the company is now seeing “a gradual recovery of those revenues and expected growth for the coming months” as lockdown restrictions ease and borders reopen.

Looking ahead, SwissGlobal is open to opportunities that further support its “mix of organic growth combined with a healthy ‘Swiss made’ buy-and-build strategy in the Swiss language services market.” Trümpy said, “We are very interested in talking with owners of Swiss-based LSPs about their succession plans, owner strategies, and business strategies.”