TA Associates acquires Auction Technology Group from ECI Partners and Proxibid from Primus Capital

Growth private equity firm TA Associates has acquired Auction Technology Group (ATG), an online platform for auctions across Europe and the United States, from ECI Partners (ECI), and Proxibid, an online marketplace for connecting buyers and sellers across North America, from Primus Capital (Primus).

Both ATG and Proxibid transactions closed on 13 of February 2020. The companies will be brought under the ATG umbrella with headquarters in London, but will retain substantial operations in Omaha, Nebraska, where Proxibid is headquartered. Both management teams are excited about the combination and believe that their collective resources will benefit auctioneers and bidders through increased technology investment and better auction results. As part of the transaction, ECI reinvested in the combined entity and now holds a minority stake. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

 
“The auction market is at a unique point in its evolution, benefiting on one hand from transformations in online selling technology and on the other from the growing trend for buyers to seek unique and second use items,” says John-Paul Savant, CEO of Auction Technology Group. “Combining ATG and Proxibid will give us the resources to invest in better tools for auctioneers and accelerate investment in marketing, which we believe will bring a steady stream of new online bidders. The companies are a natural cultural fit, both valuing the provision of a professional experience for our auctioneer and bidder clients.”
 
“The combined resources of ATG and Proxibid will give us greater scale to compete against competitors such as Ritchie Brothers,” says Ryan Downs, CEO of Proxibid. “We will accelerate investment in the online tools that make auctioneers a preferred route for the disposal of many industrial assets. The combination also allows us to address a larger auctioneer base with our tools such as Wavebid, our auction management solution.”
 
“TA Associates is excited to bring together these two profitable and growing online businesses,” says Morgan Seigler, a Managing Director at TA Associates. “With their similar business models, technology and culture, as well as complementary geography and sector focus, we believe that Proxibid and ATG are an excellent match. In collaboration with ECI, we will aim to expand the businesses through both organic and acquisitive growth, and accelerated international expansion.” 

As part of this transaction, Seigler and Stefan Dandl, a Senior Vice President at TA Associates, will join the ATG Board of Directors. 
 
“We are thrilled to have been a partner with ATG through its growth over the past five years, and are excited to welcome TA Associates as an investor in the company,” says Tom Wrenn, a Partner at ECI Partners. “Market dynamics and the expected increases in online auction penetration will provide a strong backdrop for the continued growth of ATG’s digital marketplaces. In partnership with TA and the ATG management team, we look forward to building on this market opportunity to continue ATG’s impressive growth.”
 
A 2019 report from Art Basel and UBS found that the online art market reached a new high of $6 billion in 2018, up 11 per cent year-on-year, representing 9 per cent of the value of global sales. A recent survey of mid-tier auction houses also revealed that over 85 per cent of auction houses expect online sales to increase over the next five years. In relation to the industrial equipment segment, a recent market study estimated the global market for used equipment to be sized at over $300 billion.
 
Squire Patton Boggs provided legal counsel and GCA Altium served as financial adviser to ATG and ECI. Travers Smith LLP provided legal counsel and Alvarez & Marsal served as financial advisor to TA Associates. Wilson Sonsini provided legal counsel and Vaquero Capital served as financial advisor to Proxibid.