With some 750 language service providers (LSPs) located in Germany and Switzerland, the language industry landscape is highly fragmented. One company looking to tap into the potential offered by the fragmented DACH region is Apostroph Group, whose latest acquisition of BVIW serves to strengthen its presence in southern Germany.
Apostoph completed the acquisition of Munich-based Burton, Van Iersel and Whitney (BVIW) on June 23, 2019. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. Proventis was the consultant for Wieners + Wieners on the deal.
Apostroph Group is the banner for the Swiss/German group of companies that comprises Apostroph Switzerland, Wieners+Wieners, López-Ebri, and now BVIW. The Group is majority-owned by ECM Equity Capital Management and has a history of buy-and-build expansion in the DACH region. Wieners+Wieners acquired Apostroph in April 2017, and Apostroph went on to buy local rival Transcript and German LSP López-Ebri in 2018.
Slator contacted Wieners + Wieners / Apostroph Managing Partner Kai-Dominik Weyel to find out more about the rationale behind the deal and Apostroph’s future plans. Weyel said BVIW appealed to the Group because it offered “complementary services […] especially in the field of marketing and communication, strengthening our position in southern Germany, which is an attractive market.”
Additionally, there was no client overlap between the two companies since BVIW mainly services “large-sized corporations and SMEs of different industries including industrial, aviation, technology, and research,” Weyel said.
BVIW focuses on corporate communication, advertising, marketing, and PR, while Wieners + Wieners / Apostroph has a dual focus. In Switzerland, the Group has a mixed customer base that includes pharma, industrial, and financial clients. In Germany, the company works mainly with advertising firms and marketing departments.
Weyel also confirmed that BVIW’s Founder and sole owner, Anton Van Iersel, will be joining the Group along with “his entire team.” The BVIW brand “will continue operating separately for the time being,” according to Weyel. He added that Van Iersel brings with him around 10 employees, taking the total combined headcount of the organization to around 130 people.
Wieners + Wieners / Apostroph currently operates from eight locations across Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, and generated USD 26.5m in 2018 revenues. Weyel did not disclose BVIW’s 2018 revenues, but told Slator that the joint organization is forecasting consolidated revenues of “more than 25 million euros,” or USD 27.8m, in 2019.
DACH: A Very Attractive Market
One of the challenges that Weyel identified for LSPs in the near-term is “keeping pace with rapidly evolving technologies and AI,” saying this challenge will be particularly pronounced for small LSPs, of which there are many in Wieners + Wieners / Apostroph’s core market of the DACH region.
Asked how he sees M&A shaping up in the language industry in 2019, Weyel said he envisages further “consolidation in the fragmented market” and that he intends for his organization to “remain an active player in this field.” Weyel sees good opportunity close to home, calling the DACH region a “very attractive market, [which is] still evolving and with a lot of potential that we want to tap.”