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04 January 2012

Kirona receives growth funding from LDC

Cheshire mobile application software developer Kirona Group (“Kirona”) is set to continue its growth strategy in the fast expanding field force automation (“FFA”) market after securing a significant investment from leading mid-market private equity firm LDC.

The business, which is based in Alderley Edge, was established in 2003 by former Oracle executives David Murray and Neil Harvey, and develops FFA solutions for a wide range of industries across the public and private sectors. It employs 33 people, including 20 software developers.

The firm’s software solutions maximise productivity and improve service levels by connecting clients, the office and field in near real time. Easily integrated with all back-office systems and compatible with all mobile operating systems, including Android, RIM, IOS and Windows, and all hardware devices, its market leading FFA technology offers a high ROI solution based on achieving significant proven operating efficiencies across the mobile work force.

Kirona also offers a mobile cloud platform that enables customers to store and access data securely off premise. By hosting this software online rather than through a network, the cloud technology significantly reduces upfront costs whilst adding full scalability benefits.

The business offers its technology through leading resellers and distributors, including BT, Vodafone, IDOX PLC and Northgate Information Solutions, in addition to its own direct sales operation.

With LDC’s support, the company will up-scale its growth strategy, leveraging its existing industry references to target under penetrated verticals in the SME space. Whilst UK focussed, the business has more recently won clients in Europe and as far afield as New Zealand,and Canada. Kirona’s solutions are available in multiple languages and scale both technically and commercially to cater for workforces from only five field staff up to 2,500+.

Investment Directors Jonathan Bell and Simon Braham led the transaction for LDC and will join Kirona’s board. The business has also appointed experienced industry professional Graham Gilbert, former Chairman and CEO of Computerland UK plc, as non-executive chairman.

David Murray, Managing Director of Kirona Group, said: “Since inception, we have developed a fast evolving, wholly owned, market-leading technology, which has driven significant efficiencies in both the public and private sectors, and allowed us to develop deep relationships with leading global reseller partners.

“Throughout the downturn demand for our services has consistently expanded and reflects the proven efficiencies and ROI we deliver, the ease of integration our solutions offer with existing systems and the compatibility of our solutions with customers’ hardware assets. These drivers are coupled with the highly publicised evolution in smartphone technology and the increasing use and acceptance of employee owned smartphones in the workplace.

“LDC is an ideal fit for us, given its strong track record of supporting growth strategies and international expansion opportunities combined with their deep understanding of the SME space.”

Jonathan Bell, Investment Director at LDC, said: “Kirona benefits from positive market growth dynamics resulting from continued smartphone and hand-held technology growth and combined with developments in FFA mobile solutions which are taking employee productivity and efficiency to new levels.

“By focusing in the SME space and offering flexible financing solutions alongside both on-premise and off-premise hosting capabilities Kirona is well positioned to benefit from substantial growth opportunities.

“The business benefits from an ambitious, passionate and highly driven executive team supported by a “best in breed” team of customer focussed software developers. This, coupled with the company’s partnerships, means it is in a strong position to capitalise on expansion opportunities.”

The deal represents LDC North West’s third investment in 2011, following its £12 million investment in live events and marketing agency WRG and its investment in musicMagpie.co.uk, the purchaser and multi-channel retailer of replay CDs, DVDs and games.

Nationally, its investment in Kirona Group represents LDC’s 13th transaction during 2011, bringing its equity commitment to UK SMEs to over £261 million this year.

Carl Wormald, head of LDC in the North West, said: “Our investment in Kirona Group, as our third deal in the North West this year, serves to highlight our commitment to the region and our ongoing support for local businesses with the potential for global growth.”

Clearwater Corporate Finance’s Manchester-based technology team, led by partner Carl Houghton, introduced Kirona Group to LDC.

Clearwater Technology partner Carl Houghton added: “You only need to read our recent Mobile Computing Report to understand why field force automation is such a hot area. Kirona has a very relevant product in the cloud or on premise. This plus a talented management team helped us to deliver 5 great offers from 6 investors we spoke to. LDC tabled exactly what management needed and I cannot remember a PE transaction than ran as smoothly. We are looking forward to helping Kirona through its buy and build phase now that it has real financial muscle behind it.”

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