GMT books 2.3x on Seagull

Following the sale GMT III will have returned 85% of drawn down capital from three exits

London-based GMT Communications has agreed to sell Seagull Group to Norwegian group Herkules Capital in a deal generating a return for GMT of 2.3x, according to a statement from the firm.

Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed, but a market source has indicated that the deal values Seagull at around €100 million.

GMT declined to comment on enterprise value.

GMT acquired Seagull, a provider of technology-enabled training and compliance tools for the maritime, oil and gas industries, in 2012 using GMT III, a 2006-vintage €342 million vehicle. Following the sale of Seagull – the fund’s third divestment – GMT III has returned 85 percent of drawn down capital, the firm said.

Natalie Tydeman, a senior partner at GMT, told Private Equity International that although the investment period for GMT III is closed, some capital remains for add-on acquisitions. GMT usually holds back around 10 percent of its funds for add-ons, Tydeman said.

Tydeman added that GMT – which is currently in market with its fourth fund, targeting €400 million – has “other sources of funding for new deals” and is “very actively working on new deals”. Fund IV is targeting a first close in September.

The two previous divestments from GMT III are Finnish business and credit information business Asiakastieto, which was sold to Investcorp in 2008 in a deal generating an internal rate or return of 70 percent, and German online multiplayer games business Bigpoint, which generated a 4x return on sale to Summit Partners and TA Associates in 2011.

Seagull’s products are delivered through cloud-based and on-site solutions, for use on-board vessels, in offices and maritime colleges, as well as online. Its multi-language e-learning library and technology platform provides video and computer-bases courses to improve knowledge and to meet standards set by international regulatory bodies.

Its customers include shipping companies, and the system has around 9,000 installations today, almost all of which are seagoing vessels. Seagull employs 125 across its headquarters in Norway and offices in Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Japan, Poland, Singapore and the UK, according to GMT.

In 2014 Seagull posted revenues of close to NOK 170 million (€19.6 million; $22 million), and EBITDA of more than NOK 60 million, including start-up funding for Seagull’s oil and gas business. In 2014 Seagull made two acquisitions in the oil and gas market, picking up MindIT, an oil and gas e-learning provider, in February, and the e-learning assets of Norwegian Petroleum Academy, an oil and gas e-learning and textbook provider, in May.

Capstan Capital Partners advised GMT on the transaction, with Shearman & Sterling and Tenden Advokatfirma providing legal advice.

In November 2014 Herkules closed its fourth fund on NOK 2.5 billion (€300 million; $370 million), significantly below its initial NOK 6 billion target, PEI reported earlier. The vehicle, which came to market in January 2013, held a NOK 1.5 billion first close last December (€180 million, $250 million), raising capital from existing investors. The firm then held a number of ‘rolling closes’, a source familiar with the matter told PEI last June.

Herkules could not be reached for comment at press time.