Belfast IT firm Novosco acquired by Germany's Cancom in £70m deal

Thomas Volk (left), Cancom SE with Novosco founders Patrick McAliskey and John Lennon
Thomas Volk (left), Cancom SE with Novosco founders Patrick McAliskey and John Lennon

FAST-growing Belfast tech firm Novosco has been acquired by German group Cancom in a £70 million deal.

The IT service provider, which saw pre-tax its profits grow 20 per cent to £3 million last year, will be absorbed into the group’s 3,500 global workforce.

Based in Munich, IT solutions provider, Cancom is already established in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Slovakia, Britain and the USA.

The company said the deal would strengthen its presence in the UK and open up direct market access in the Republic of Ireland for the first time.

Set up by Patrick McAliskey and John Lennon, Novosco’s operation is largely centred in Belfast. However the group has opened bases in Dublin, and Daresbury, near Manchester.

The move will see Mr Lennon will take on the role of joint managing director of Cancom UK alongside Martin Hess. Mr McAliskey will continue to hold shares in the company and take on the role of an adviser to Cancom.

Recently published accoutns by Novosco showed its turnover grew by 23 per cent to £37.6m during 2018. Cancom anticipates Novosco’s revenues will reach £55m by the end of 2019.

The anticipated growth follows a seven-year contract with the NHS in England last year to manage IT infrastructure, a deal reportedly worth up to £107m.

It prompted Novosco in June 2018 to announce a £20 million expansion, including a plan to recruit 150 additional staff by 2020. It should see the Belfast tech firm’s workforce reach 300 by next year.

In the latest accounts filed with Companies House, Novosco indicated that the new lucrative NHS contracts did not factor into its 2018 revenues. It revealed the Belfast firm also secured additional contracts in 2018 worth over £12m for 2019 and beyond.

The 2018 accounts showed the IT company’s workforce grew from 158 in 2017 to 176 throughout 2018.

Capital investment for 2018 totalled £3.6m.

This year saw Novosco expand on its 11,000 sq ft Belfast headquarters at the Concourse Building at Catalyst Inc in the Titanic Quarter, taking on an additional 5,000 sq ft.

Patrick McAliskey described the acquisition as hugely positive for Novosco.

“Cancom is a world-class business with a global reach that sees the addition of Novosco’s people, expertise and customer-base as a core part of its strategy for growth.

“The combined specialisms, resources and skills of the two businesses creates a very strong platform from which to further enhance the service we provide to our existing clients and to challenge for new and exciting contracts.”

Chief executive of Cancom, Thomas Volk said the Belfast firm’s portfolio extends the German-based group’s capabilities and customer reach.

“Virtually all Novosco customers have no business connection to us yet,” he said.

“In addition, the transaction gives us direct market access in Ireland for the first time, and around 300 specialist staff and a highly profitable business will join Cancom. We are very excited about this acquisition."

Commenting on the deal, Mr Lennon said: “We have the most expert people in the business and have a reputation across the UK and Ireland for industry-leading IT managed services.

“I am very proud of what we as a team have achieved together and as part of the Cancom Group, I am incredibly excited about what we will achieve together into the future.”