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Carlyle acquires majority stake in German business software provider CSS AG

Global investment firm Carlyle has acquired a majority stake in CSS AG (CSS), a German business software provider with a focus on accounting, controlling and human resources (HR) software. Majority shareholder Michael Friemel will retain a large minority stake in CSS and will continue to lead the company as CEO.

Founded in 1984, CSS is headquartered in Künzell, Germany, and serves and supports its customers from eight additional regional offices. CSS is the only vendor with a fully integrated all-in-one business solution, named eGECKO, for accounting, controlling and HR modules which is specifically targeted at the needs of local and multinational German mid-market customers. It serves approximately 2,500 customers across a wide range of industries.
 
Carlyle will work alongside the CSS management team to support the company‘s growth through the further development of its eGECKO solution via synergetic acquisitions and the offering of cloud solutions. Equity for the transaction will be provided by Carlyle Europe Technology Partners (CETP) IV, a EUR 1.35 billion fund that invests in small and middle market technology-focused companies in Europe and the US. The CETP team has extensive experience in supporting business software companies, both globally and in German-speaking countries. Previous investments in the German business software market include HR software provider Personal & Informatik (P&I), Enterprise Content Management (ECM) software provider SER Group and iC Consult, a leading Identity and Access Management (IAM) service provider.
 
Dr Thorsten Dippel, Managing Director on the CETP advisory team, says: “CSS is a leading player in the German accounting and HR software market. We believe the business is uniquely placed to benefit from the accelerating demand for modern, cloud-based solutions and to capture further market share from legacy players or providers who offer only accounting or HR software, rather than a combined product. In partnering with Michael Friemel and the CSS management team, we will seek to leverage our significant expertise in the sector gained from scaling similar software companies, both organically and through M&A.”
 
Michael Friemel, CEO of CSS, says: “We are delighted to partner with Carlyle who bring a vast network and a deep understanding of our industry. Carlyle’s investment in CSS represents a major step in taking the company forward into the next phase of its development and growth. In partnering with Carlyle, we will look to take advantage of organic and M&A opportunities, as we continue to expand our growth and innovation plans. I am convinced that Carlyle is the ideal partner and this is the right step at the right time.”

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