GB Group, Chester identity firm, buys £547m Acuant

Chester-based identity data company GB Group (GBG) said on Thursday it conditionally agreed to acquire Los Angeles-based Acuant, a US identity verification and identity fraud prevention business for “a cash free, debt free enterprise value” of £547 million.

“The acquisition brings together two of the leaders in the global digital identity market, with combined revenue of c.£265 million,” said GBG.

GBG said the deal creates a global leader in identity verification and identity fraud prevention, and materially increases GBG’s US presence — primes the enlarged group for accelerated global expansion.

GBG said it intends to finance the acquisition through a “cash box placing of new ordinary shares to institutional investors to raise aggregate gross proceeds of £300 million, approximately $117 million (c.£87 million) of GBG ordinary shares issued to certain of the Acuant vendors, and the balance from a combination of approximately $210 million (c.£155 million) partial drawdown against a new £175 million revolving credit facility and existing cash on balance sheet.”

The total number of new ordinary shares to be issued and the retail offer will not exceed 21% of the current issued ordinary share capital of the company.

GBG’s CEO Chris Clark said: “We are delighted to announce the acquisition of Acuant. This is a business that we have worked with – and admired – for many years.

“The combination of our two businesses is a complementary and powerful one.

“Together, we are creating a global leader in Identity Verification as well as strengthening our capability to capitalise on the adjacent, emerging and fast growing Identify Fraud market.

“The US is the largest and most strategic market for location, identity and fraud services.

“The combination of GBG and Acuant accelerates our share in this market, increasing scale, customer base and introducing us to new and exciting sectors.

“As importantly, it also strengthens the breadth of our technology portfolio which we can use to support our current customers in new ways in growth geographies such as APAC and Europe, where we already have a strong footprint.”

Acuant CEO Yossi Zekri: “This is an exciting day for Acuant. We are very proud of everything that Acuant has achieved to date – building a world class technology portfolio and a strong market position in the US across multiple sectors.

“There is still significant opportunity ahead and we feel that being part of GBG is the best way for us to capitalise on those opportunities.

“Our customer, technology and geographical mix is highly complementary and culturally we are aligned both in how we invest in our people and look after our customers.”