$2 billion payday for investors in Seequent and Vend

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Seequent has grown from one employee to 430 over 17 years.

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Seequent has grown from one employee to 430 over 17 years.

The New Zealand software industry has demonstrated its ability to make money for investors by raking in almost $2 billion for shareholders in two businesses in a single day.

Christchurch software company Seequent, which employed just one person in 2004 and specialises in modelling ground conditions, has been bought for US$1.05 billion (NZ$1.46b).

The deal was announced on the same day that another Kiwi software company, Auckland cloud-based point-of-sale company Vend, announced it had been acquired for US$350m (NZ$486m) by Canadian competitor Lightspeed.

Seequent, which now employs 430 staff, including 173 in New Zealand, was already mostly foreign-owned after Silicon Valley firm Accel-KKR took a 75 per cent stake in the business in 2018.

But now Nasdaq-listed Bentley Systems has agreed to acquire that stake along with the 25 per cent of the firm that is still owned by New Zealand and other overseas private investors, including some staff.

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The deal will see some of those individual investors net tens of millions.

“A lot of folk will benefit and why shouldn’t they?” Seequent chief executive Shaun Maloney said.

“They have worked hard and mortgaged their house to put skin in the game, but this is very much a growth story and will continue to be so.”

Seequent Shaun Maloney says buy-out will ‘put aviation fuel in the gas tank’.

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Seequent Shaun Maloney says buy-out will ‘put aviation fuel in the gas tank’.

Because of its size, the acquisition is subject to approval by the Overseas Investment Office.

Maloney, who will retire next month, said it would be “onwards and upwards” for the company, which already had about 50 vacancies to fill in Christchurch.

Seequent models everything from ice sheets to mineral deposits, while Bentley specialises in modelling underground structures from foundations to tunnels, so their expertise was complementary, he said.

Almost all of Seequent’s customers were overseas, Maloney said.

Bentley would continue to run Seequent as a separate business unit, he said.

“Their influence is pouring aviation fuel into our gas tank.”

Auckland Vend’s was reported in 2019 to be chasing a $1b valuation by 2024, and almost reached the halfway-mark with its sale on Thursday.

Lightspeed said in a statement that the purchase would build on its foothold in the Asia-Pacific, roughly doubling the company’s customer base in the region.

Stuff

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