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Thomsons Online Benefits Secures Significant US Investment To Exploit Global Trend For Benefits Control

LONDON, January 30, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

London-based Thomsons Online Benefits today announced a significant US investment to help to support the company's global ambitions and future growth. Plans for 2013 include a US office, and an enhanced growth and partner strategy in Asia and the UK.

Following a robust selection process, with multiple bidders from the UK, Europe and US, tech-savvy investor ABRY Partners, based in Boston, emerged as the clear winner.  In a private equity deal which values the company at approaching $160 million, the investment will also help accelerate Thomsons' technology roadmap on a global scale, and increase headcount.

Michael Whitfield, CEO at Thomsons said: "Global businesses are discovering that, like accounting and HR processes before it, the function of employee benefits now requires central control across worldwide geographies.  This discovery has proven to be a powerful business driver for the major global organisations we already support with our global online platform, Darwin™.  The new investment gives us the opportunity to increase support for such clients and, most importantly, to keep pace with the velocity of demand we are currently experiencing from US-based global organisations."

ABRY will make substantial funds available to enable the company to make acquisitions, and to expand both its global and UK regional footprint.  It also plans significant investment into Darwin™, Thomsons' employee benefits technology platform, creating jobs in all areas, in particular technical development.  Further development of the Thomsons Academy will increase learning and development support for its own employees, clients and providers.

Thomsons' SaaS-based technology provides global enterprises with control and knowledge of employee benefits generating a raft of proven advantages:  "Regulatory pressure for control and compliance, combined with a drive for cost management, is a challenge for global companies at a time when their workforce is increasingly mobile and multi-national.  For example, the current trend towards a 'flexible benefits' philosophy where firms give employees a choice of options, combined with a lack of visibility and control, can create a barrier for employers and make it difficult for them to ever actually achieve value from their spend on employee benefits, despite it being their second largest cost after salaries. Our solution can remove these barriers," Chris Bruce, Thomsons' managing director added.

Brian St Jean from ABRY Partners stated: "Thomsons has had a period of phenomenal growth and success within the last 12 months especially, seeing earnings almost trebling.  Add this to their award-winning technology, strong management team, impressive growth over the last ten years, and massive UK and global market opportunities, we saw this as too good an opportunity to miss. We are really excited to be investing in Thomsons with both the UK and global markets that they lead being at a tipping point. We back Thomsons heavily to dominate their space for many years to come and will also be looking for other opportunities in the UK and abroad in the near future."

Existing angel investors Westminster Growth Capital and Pi Capital are replaced as the US firm takes a majority stake in the Thomsons business. "Without the belief and support of both Pi and Westminster over the past eight years we would never have got to this strong position and we are extremely grateful to them for their backing and support," said Whitfield.

The remaining shares are held by the existing management team and staff led by CEO Michael Whitfield and managing director Chris Bruce, who together founded the company in 2000.

Thomsons Online Benefits has just closed the year ending December 2012 with revenues of £32.6 million and earnings (EBIT) almost trebling to £7 million compared with £27.3 million and £2.5 million respectively in the prior year. The partnership with ABRY will underpin the company's growth strategy in the UK corporate and global enterprise markets that is expected to result in a doubling of revenues and a further trebling of earnings by the end of 2015.

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