EQT takes majority stake in thinkproject

European investment group EQT has taken a majority stake in Munich, Germany-based architecture, engineering and construction Software-as-a-Service provider thinkproject.

thinkproject logoThe Stockholm, Sweden-based international investment group EQT has taken a majority stake in Munich, Germany-based architecture, engineering and construction Software-as-a-Service provider thinkproject (no financial details given).

EQT investment

Thomas BachmaierFounded in 1994 and strongly associated with Sweden’s Wallenberg family (Wikipedia), EQT is a 700-strong global investment organisation, with offices in 17 countries, which has raised more than €75 billion since inception and currently has around €50 billion in assets under management across 20 active funds. The EQT IX fund has acquired a majority stake in thinkproject from TA Associates, which invested in the company in January 2017 (post), and thinkproject’s founder Thomas Bachmaier, right.

EQT’s news release says TA, Thomas Bachmaier and the management team will re-invest significantly into the company in the context of this transaction. thinkproject’s management team, led by CEO Gareth Burton and CFO Ralf Gruesshaber, will continue to lead the company and build on its strong track record of growth and innovation.

thinkproject currently serves more than 250,000 users in over 60 countries. It employs around 450 people and its software is used by 2,750 customers across international private and public asset owners, project developers, and contractors. EQT highlights the under-digitised nature of thinkproject’s underlying end market, the construction industry, and notes the sector has seen an accelerated digitisation momentum and widespread technological adoption. It says: “By improving delivery times and reducing waste and energy consumption, thinkproject helps cut emissions in one of the key carbon emitting industries globally.”

EQT says it intends to support the current direction taken by the management team by further growing the company’s global customer base, backing product extension, geographical expansion and supporting a consolidation of the fragmented construction software space. thinkproject is expected to leverage the full EQT platform during its next phase of growth, including EQT’s digital and sustainability expertise, local-with-locals presence across Europe and Asia-Pacific, and domain experience. The company will be supported by the EQT Network, including advisors from EQT’s software, real estate and infrastructure space.

Deal commentary

Florian Funk, Partner at EQT Partners, said:

“For us, thinkproject represents a truly thematic investment at the intersection of EQT’s two core value creation pillars, sustainability and digitization. After having followed thinkproject over the last couple of years, we are thrilled by the opportunity to work together with the management team and TA Associates to further develop this exciting company. This investment is perfectly aligned with EQT’s core focus of investing in high growth companies and partnering with world class management teams. We are truly impressed by the market leading position thinkproject has built and EQT is excited to support its vision of becoming a global champion.”

Gareth Burton (think project! CEO)Gareth Burton, CEO of thinkproject, right, said:

“EQT is one of the most active and successful private equity investors in the TMT [technology, media, telecom] sector with a very profound expertise specifically in the construction sector. thinkproject’s management team and EQT both share the strong conviction around the sector’s fundamentally attractive growth dynamics as well as thinkproject’s ability to further build out its excellent market leadership position and to build the leading global construction intelligence platform. thinkproject continuously strives to serve our customers to help construct a better world.”

Morgan Seigler, Managing Director at TA Associates, said:

“Since our investment four years ago, the thinkproject management team has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to the company’s strategic growth initiatives and customers. We believe that these efforts have helped thinkproject transform into Europe’s leading SaaS provider of construction intelligence solutions for the AECO industry. We are thrilled to welcome EQT as our new partner, and we look forward to working with them alongside the thinkproject management team during the company’s next phase of growth.”

Extranet Evolution perspective

thinkproject has been a prominent European player in the AECO space since the early 2000s, and has already engaged in a string of transactions that have led to some consolidation in the construction software space. EQT’s ambitions to ‘consolidate the fragmented construction software space’, therefore, are founded on a business with ample previous experience, and which has also begun to expand internationally.

thinkproject portfolioInitially, that experience was largely in thinkproject’s domestic German market – Eplass, planConnect – later extending to French product data lifecycle specialist Lascom (September 2015), its Austrian sales partner i-pm (2016 post) and a German competitor Conetics (2016 post). It also established a joint venture with Spain’s ProjectCentre (September 2016), before acquiring the UK’s contract management specialist CEMAR (May 2018), Germany’s BIM specialist ceapoint (March 2019) and CDE competitor and 5D BIM provider Conclude (November 2019), and New Zealand highway asset management software vendor RAMM (April 2020).

A look at EQT’s portfolio shows that EQT Real Estate I has backed various businesses in France, Germany and Sweden; EQT Real Estate II has backed businesses in France, Sweden and the UK; and in September 2020, it acquired a majority stake in idealista, a real estate classifieds platform covering Spain, Italy, and Portugal. While it also has substantial technology, media, and telecom investments, the thinkproject deal marks EQT’s first major investment in ConTech. On past experience, it is unlikely to be its last.

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