Acolad acquires its rival Ubiqus, thereby consolidating the French translation market

Two great French rivals have joined forces. Language Service Provider (LSP) Acolad has announced that it has acquired Ubiqus on March 22, 2022, the company’s tenth acquisition to date. Terms of the deal, which was completed on March 17, 2022, were not disclosed.

Globally, Acolad ranks among the top five Super Agencies in the world, with 260 million euros in revenue in 2021, while Ubiqus is one of the top 20 leaders, with 70 million euros in revenue in 2021.

Acolad’s decade-long trading history began in earnest when its founder and current board member, Benjamin du Fraysseix, took the reins as CEO in 2012. He launched in an aggressive M&A strategy, which has seen Acolad (formerly Technicis until 2019) acquire increasingly large and complex LSPs.

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Ownership of Acolad has also changed in recent years. The Fraysseix family bought the private equity fund Naxicap in September 2019 and now owns 65% of Acolad. The balance is held by private equity lenders Qualium and UI Gestion.

Acolad’s most recent acquisitions were Dutch LSP Livewords in 2019 and Luxembourg-based Amplexor in 2020. The company experienced a brief trading hiatus in 2021, likely to focus on integration and rebranding of Amplexor, which remains Acolad’s largest acquisition to date.

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The latest addition to the Acolad fold, Ubiqus, was owned by a combination of private equity and corporate management. The main shareholders of the LSP were the private equity funds ENZ Partners (lead manager) and Indigo Capital, as well as the management of Ubiqus, including its chairman, Vincent Nguyen.

Ubiqus’ geographic footprint spans seven countries outside of France. The LSP has approximately 550 employees, including more than 120 in-house professional writers. Acolad at scale now operates 24/7 from 25 countries worldwide with over 2,500 employees.

The acquisition will see Nguyen leaves the company, while the former CFO of the Ubiqus group, Guillaume Dumortier, will take over as interim CEO of Ubiqus. Acolad CEO Olivier Marcheteau told Slator that the Ubiqus brand will be retained for the near future as the company works “to define the best long-term evolution.”

Key role of machine translation

As a brand, Ubiqus has been a mainstay in the French and global language industry for the past three decades, providing translation and interpretation services in addition to audio-visual transcription services.

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Marcheteau said translation, interpretation and transcription will contribute approximately 75% of the combined organization’s revenue after the acquisition, while other segments of Acolad include content management and information. Ubiqus’ transcription business “has a lot of growth potential and offers cross-selling opportunities for our other segments,” he said.

Ubiqus has also been among the most active language service providers in the field of machine translation (MT), having partnered with Harvard NLP and Systran on the OpenNMT project, which launched an open-source neural MT engine in 2017. Ubiqus has also developed its own automatic voice recognition. (ASR).

According to Marcheteau, the addition of Ubiqus’ solutions and expertise is a “significant step” in Acolad’s goal of becoming “a full-service multilingual content partner”, and MT will play a key role in its portfolio of technology solutions in the future. The CEO said that technological competition is “paramount” in today’s competitive landscape, especially since the market is “now quite demanding in terms of connectivity and efficiency”.

Continuous investment

The Acolad-Ubiqus combination generated a ca. LSP with a turnover of 330 million euros, with a broad portfolio of clients covering industry, life sciences, legal, finance, public sector, consumer goods and technology.

Marcheteau declined to provide a forecast for 2022, noting that Acolad does not comment on current trends in private ownership and private equity funding. Going forward, he said the LSP will continue to invest in digital solutions, content integration, consulting services and information management solutions for the life sciences, in addition to its basic services.

Acolad wasted no time in embarking on the integration of Ubiqus. Marcheteau said the teams are already actively partnering and, while Ubiqus is the current focus, Acolad “will, of course, always look for new and complementary ways to grow.”

Connie A. Bailey