Businesses run off information, with demand for insight and data increasing in times of volatility. Inflexion has worked with a number of businesses that provide crucial information as part of its sector focus on services companies.
Savvy management teams know the right data is key to informing sound decision-making, and this is creating a growing opportunity set for firms offering information services. This need grows with market uncertainty and proliferation of information: This is because complexity creates a need for clarity, which data can provide, and new insights can help firms to navigate this – which in turn drives demand.
Inflexion helps businesses in this sector to make the most of their data offering – and thereby enhance their clients’ offerings – by drawing on its own value acceleration strategies: the firm can help companies to overlay data with technology solutions, drive insight generation expand globally and acquire other businesses to grow faster.
Information services businesses are enjoying repeatable and increasing demand, and private equity partners can support the growth journeys of companies rising to the opportunity. Inflexion has worked with many firms in the space, with successful partnerships alongside firms such as Kynetec illustrating what can be achieved by combining capital and support with ambitious management teams.
Inflexion has worked with a number of companies in this space, including:
Kynetec – A carve-out and five-year partnership saw significant investment into technology and acquisitive-led global growth, including buying Kynetec’s direct competitor.
Times Higher Education – Accelerating growth both digitally and internationally with multiple acquisitions adding to existing business’s geographic reach and service offering.
Chambers and Partners – the world’s leading legal ranking and insights intelligence company for the legal profession has grown through talent build-out, acquisition, international expansion and significant digital enhancement since Inflexion invested five years ago.
In 2016 Inflexion carved Kynetec out of its listed German parent GfK before supporting an ambitious growth journey. Kynetec and Inflexion wasted no time in commencing its M&A journey, with the purchase of the agriculture and animal health business of Ipsos North America announced shortly after the ink dried on the 2016 carve-out. This greatly strengthened Kynetec’s presence in the US and gave it fresh footing in Canada, and ultimately proved to be the first of five of acquisitions for Kynetec during its five-year Inflexion partnership, all of which helped the firm to grow geographically and in big data.
Its subsequent purchase of Neil Clark & Associates was part of Kynetec’s push into big data as the Australian provider of agribusiness data and business intelligence turbocharged Kynetec’s technology offering by enabling it to offer deeper insights to clients. Kynetec went on to make the transformational purchase of its direct competitor, Germany-based Kleffmann Group, in 2020.
The M&A complemented Kynetec’s organic growth, with its wide range of blue-chip customers necessitating an impressive and capable team. When the firm was sold to a US buyer in 2021, Kynetec boasted more than 250 research professionals, 250 skilled interviewers and a network of more than 80 partners.
Ultimately the successful partnership with Inflexion saw EBITDA grow 200% as Kynetec strengthened its operations in North and South America, Asia and Europe, resulting in a global business operating in 30 countries.
Times Higher Education
For half a century, Times Higher Education (THE) has been collecting information on universities to provide data, rankings and content to help institutions, academics, students, industry and governments to gain insight and benchmark higher education institutions. It had become the clear leader in its home UK market, which is estimated to be worth over $46 billion.
While its brand was already impressive, THE had just a 1% slice of the behemoth US market – worth over $500 billion and with more than 4,000 higher education institutions – when THE chose Inflexion as its backer in February 2019 to support its ambitions to grow both internationally and digitally. It’s working: the company made firm inroads stateside when it acquired Inside Higher Ed (IHE), a leader in the US market in 2022. It capped off a 10 yearlong collaboration and was made possible by the financial backing of Inflexion as well as its experience in driving M&A.
The acquisition added 25% to the existing business’s revenue and EBITDA, and balanced THE’s portfolio by geography as well as offering. It means THE has become the largest global platform for academics with very high barriers to entry, reaching a combined audience of over 50 million annually.
IHE was the second purchase for THE following Inflexion’s buyout, with higher education consultancy The Knowledge Partnership marking THE’s first Inflexion-supported acquisition in December 2020. THE is increasingly working with governments, with a phase 2 agreement worth c. £500,000 with one Asian country and Inflexion’s in-country experts supporting with introductions to partners in China.
In all, THE has made five acquisitions since Inflexion’s backing, with the latest in Poets&Quants (P&Q), the leading authority on business schools worldwide, in April 2023. THE is working with Inflexion on assessing and actioning a sizeable list of M&A targets.
Inflexion is also supporting THE in its evolution from pure B2B into B2C: THE Student launched in 2020 as a new digital platform providing the higher education community with opportunities to engage with prospective international students in one place.
Chambers and Partners
Chambers has been supplying insights and rankings to the global legal profession since 1990. The strength of its brand is predicated on the quality of its core research team and global reach. Inflexion backed the Chambers’ buyout in 2018 to build on its strong brand, focus on accelerating sales growth and transitioning the business towards a ‘digital-first’ proposition.
Inflexion brought in Tim Noble as CEO in 2019 and he went on to build out a full leadership team. The team agreed strategic priorities and began focusing on product enhancement, pricing and packaging, international expansion, digital, and a new operating model.
In 2020, Chambers bought Top 3 Legal, an online platform which helps in-house legal teams manage relationships with law firms.
The overhaul is paying off: as of December 2022, bookings and EBITDA were both growing at over 20% per annum as a result of improved product offerings and significant improvements in retention.
Chambers’ transformation has touched on most aspects of the business, driving innovation across the organisation whilst preserving the strong brand pivotal to success. The firm has spent substantial time focusing on commercial aspects, with significant investment in strengthening the core product, building the sales and customer success teams, and aligning pricing to value delivered.
The firm has also grown internationally as it launched products into new target markets in the US and Latin America, citing Inflexion’s in-country experts a real help in this area in terms of unlocking facts, nuance and connections needed to succeed. Inflexion also helped Chambers to move from a traditional paper-based directory to an online version, with a full website re-build facilitating the transition.
Going forward, Chambers sees substantial opportunity from combining its unrivalled data sources with new technology and insight to deliver strong growth