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Darwin clinches cloud deal

Darwin Private Equity has acquired cloud-based computing company Attenda from M/C Partners, a private equity firm which specialises in communications, media and IT.

M/C Partners, the former media and communications arm of TA Associates until its spinout in 1986, has sold cloud-based IT operations company Attenda to UK peer Darwin Private Equity for £50 million ($82.5 million; €57 million). M/C had backed the company since 2002. 

Darwin used capital from its maiden £217m ($358m; €247m) fund, Darwin Private Equity I, to fund the investment. The deal is Darwin’s sixth investment from the fund, which it launched in 2007. It has already exited one of its investments, having sold sports nutrition company Maxinutrition to pharmaceuticals group GlaxoSmithKline for £162m late last year. Darwin bought the business for £75 million in 2007.

Darwin’s buyout of Attenda is part of a growing trend that has seen investment groups target cloud-based computing companies, seen as a growth segment of the overall technology sector.

ABRY Partners and Berkshire Partners have agreed to acquire Telx Group, for example. The company had been considering an IPO until recent public market volatility persuaded it that a sale to private equity would be a better option. Earlier this week, US private equity firm Bain Capital purchased Australian software company MYOB for $1.3bn. Bain Capital also appeared in another acquisition with Berkshire Partners and Advent International, the trio purchasing a cloud computing service provider called SkillSoft last year. 

Attenda generated revenues of £28.5 million in 2010 and has experienced year on year growth, Darwin said in a statement. M/C Partners had owned the company since first backing it in 2002. It sold one of Attenda’s subsidiaries to Telecity for £21 million last year, but this sale represents a full exit from the business.

The company’s current management team, led by chief executive Mark Fowle, will remain in place following the deal.

Investec, Olswang and Grant Thornton advised Attenda on the deal, while Harris Williams, Travers Smith, Grant Thornton and Deloitte advised Darwin.