BGF exits Semafone investment

BGF has successfully exited its investment in Semafone, a provider of data security and compliance solutions for call and contact centres, after it was acquired by Livingbridge.

BGF invested GBP4 million in Semafone in October 2014, alongside Octopus Ventures (GBP1 million) and a consortium of existing shareholders. Funding was used to support the delivery of Semafone’s key contracts, boost senior management resources, extend the product portfolio and expand into overseas markets. The investment from BGF and Octopus Ventures also enabled Semafone to gain access to non-dilutive bank debt to fund further growth.
 
Semafone is a market leading data security and compliance SaaS platform underpinned by a highly differentiated product set and suite of IP. Its secure payment platform enables contact centres and other businesses taking card payments by phone to reduce compliance costs by up to 80 per cent. It was founded in 2009 to tackle the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliance challenges faced by the UK contact centre industry.
 
Based in Guildford, Surrey, Semafone today employs over 90 people in Europe, North America and Australia, with a customer base spanning over 25 countries.
 
Significant growth has been delivered in the US and other key regions following the investment from BGF and revenues have grown more than four-fold in that time. The exit will see BGF generate a 6.4x return and 32 per cent IRR.
 
Semafone’s software is used by a host of blue-chip customers including AXA, Sky and TalkTalk. It has a key contract with BT which has seen it become a core part of BT’s call centre technology offering for its corporate customers.
 
Gary E Barnett, CEO of Semafone, says: “BGF has been a key partner for the business over the last seven years. Their funding has enabled us to deliver rapid growth and fulfil our potential as the number one provider of data security and compliance solutions for the global call and contact centre market. Thanks to their investment, we are now in a position to look forward to the next phase of growth which will see us double down on our operations in the US and expand into other international markets.”
 
William Gresty, investor at BGF, who led the exit, says: “Semafone represents one of BGF’s long-term investments, having backed the business since 2014. During the investment hold period Semafone has demonstrated proven and consistent subscription revenue growth across all channels, generating significant profitability. We are proud to have supported the business through this period of significant growth, both internationally and through the development of its product suite to become an omni-channel provider. We wish them all the best as they gear up for even further growth in these markets.”
 
This transaction marks BGF’s 12th successful exit in 2021, generating significant returns for all shareholders. Recent deals include BGF’s successful exit of Cennox – a leading provider of services to the ATM sector – after it was acquired by US-based investment firm, York Capital.