Great Hill to buy Reward Gateway

Great Hill Partners LP has agreed to buy Reward Gateway. The seller is Inflexion Private Equity. The deal values Reward Gateway at 140 million pounds (US$218.9 mln). London-based Reward Gateway provides products and technology for HR departments.


LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM–(Marketwired – Jul 29, 2015) – Reward Gateway, global leaders in enterprise employee engagement software, announces today that Great Hill Partners, L.P., a Boston based technology investor, has entered into a binding agreement to buy the company from current owners, Inflexion Private Equity. The deal, which values the company at £140 million GBP will fuel the continued expansion of products and technology for HR departments and will fund additional geographic expansion outside of the company’s current markets of UK, USA and Australia.
Blue Chip Clients
Reward Gateway is a £189 million revenue SaaS business employing 275 people in six countries and servicing more than 1,100 enterprise clients. Its technology powers employee benefits, employee recognition, total reward statements, employee communications and employee engagement. Clients include IBM, American Express, Diageo, Heineken, McDonalds, Bloomberg, Unilever, DHL, Bayer, AT&T, Yahoo!, AOL and Groupon.
Shared Ownership Model Pays
Management and employees hold 40 percent of equity between them through Reward Gateway’s shared ownership scheme. Today’s deal triggers a shared payment of c.£6.5 million to all 269 employees below board level in six countries.
The management team, led by founder Glenn Elliott, is staying with the company and become significant co-investors alongside Great Hill Partners. Post-deal the shareholding owned by staff and management increases to 45 percent.
Fast Growth led to Category Leadership
Reward Gateway was founded in London in 2006 and has grown quickly to lead the fast growing market for employee engagement technology. Revenues jumped eight fold from £0.5m in the first year of trading to £4m by 2011. Inflexion Private Equity invested at an enterprise valuation of £25.5 million in December 2010. In the past four years, client revenues have grown six-times over, EBITDA 10-times and client numbers from 400 to 1,100, with acquisitions of software specialist Dazines Ltd in the UK, API Leisure & Lifestyle, the oldest benefits provider in Australia, and the opening of a successful New York office.
Global Success
Headquartered in London the business operates in the UK, Australia and USA with a global support and software engineering centre in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. UK clients include Sky, ITV, Specsavers, Welcome Break, Aviva, Transport for London, Cancer Research UK and Ladbrokes.
The Reward Gateway management team plan to use the investment from Great Hill Partners to propel the company’s future US operations; and in Australia, where the business leads the market following the recent acquisition of API.
Reward Gateway’s founder and CEO Glenn Elliott said: “We’ve had an amazing four and a half years with Inflexion and we are a stronger and more successful company thanks to their support. Their backing has enabled us to invest heavily in expanding the services we provide to HR and scale the business internationally. As an investor, they set the bar high and it’s taken careful consideration to find a partner that could really help us on the next stage of the journey. I really am delighted to have found that in Great Hill Partners. They’ve been incredible since the day we met them and with their experience of HR and technology really share our vision for the product and our global opportunity.”
Why Employee Engagement Pays
He continues, “Employee engagement has become central for a number of forward thinking successful organisations. They have realised that engaged employees make better decisions, as they understand more. Engaged employees are more productive, as they enjoy what they are doing. And engaged employees innovate more, as they want their organisation to succeed. Our success is testament to this”
Chris Busby, Partner at Great Hill Partners said: “We are delighted to back Glenn Elliott, the management team and Reward Gateway in their next phase of development. The business has been at the very forefront of innovating in employee benefits, reward and engagement for nearly 10 years now. We’ve found here a fantastic business, dedicated to the success of its clients and run by a world-class management team. We are thrilled to be backing them to expand their remit for HR and launch into new geographies.”
Reward Gateway was recently ranked 25th in the Sunday Times International Track 2015 as the fastest-growing, mid-market HR sector firm based on impressive overseas sales of £8.7 million in 2014.
Today sees the Reward Gateway divide circa £6.5 million among its team. Employees below management level own five percent of the company through its Employee Share Plan. A typical employee who has been with the company for several years will earn an amount similar to their annual salary. Over 100 employees who have joined the company since the last share allocation in 2014 will all benefit from a whole month’s extra salary paid as a bonus. This is the second time the company’s employees have shared in financial success – over £1 million was shared among 70 employees in 2010 when Inflexion bought a majority stake. CEO, Glenn Elliott has already announced that a third similar programme for staff will launch in the coming weeks.
Reward Gateway were advised by David Silver from investment bank Robert W. Baird & Co with Nick Jones from Cavendish Corporate Finance LLP advising the management team on their re-investment. Legal Counsel for the company was provided by Tim Hewens at Squire Patton Boggs LLP. The buyer, Great Hill Partners was advised by DC Advisory and represented by Kirkland & Ellis LLP. Debt finance was provided by TPG Capital who were represented by Macfarlanes LLP. Inflexion Private Equity was represented by Jones Day LLP.
Notes to Editors
For media enquiries please contact Kirsty Leighton, Kate Cleevely or Lucy Wollam at Hudson Sandler on 020 7796 4133
Management photo available here
Glenn Elliott photo available here and here
Reward Gateway has seen significant growth in recent years
• Revenue is £189 million GBP y/e June 2015 (up 56% since June 2012, CAGR of 16%)
• Normalised EBITDA at June 2015 was £10.1m (up 359% since June 2012, CAGR of 66%)
• 98% client retention rate
• An international presence of 1,100 clients
• Accolades: E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year 2010 (Glenn Elliott, CEO), Sunday Times Tech Track second fastest growing company in UK 2011; 2012 Ninth fastest growing company in Europe in GP Bullhound Media Momentum. 2011 won both NatWest fastest growing business of the year and service business of the year in Fast Growth Business Awards
About Reward Gateway
The global leader in enterprise employee engagement software. Founded in the UK in 2006, Reward Gateway has grown into a £189 million GBP revenue SaaS business employing 275 people in six countries and servicing over 1,100 enterprise clients.
Reward Gateway’s technology powers employee benefits, reward & recognition, total reward solutions, employee communications and engagement systems. Clients include IBM, American Express, Diageo, Heineken, McDonalds, Bloomberg, Unilever, DHL, Bayer, AT&T, Yahoo!, AOL and Groupon.
Headquartered in London the business operates in the UK, Australia and USA with a global support and software engineering centre in Bulgaria.
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About Glenn Elliott, Founder & CEO
Glenn founded Reward Gateway in 2006 and has driven its development and international growth since. In 2010, Glenn was named an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Prior to Reward Gateway, Glenn founded N1 Creative, an award winning brand and communication design agency which he ran for over six years. He began his career as a software engineer, working for Schlumberger and British Telecom.
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About Great Hill Partners
Great Hill Partners is a private equity firm that has raised US$4 billion in commitments since inception to finance the expansion, recapitalisation, or acquisition of companies in a wide range of sectors in business-to-business and business-to-consumer industries including software, financial and healthcare technology, digital media, eCommerce, and internet infrastructure. Great Hill targets investments of US$25 million to US$150 million.
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