M&A Spotlight: Ocorian - Growing geographic footprint and product offering through M&A

An impressive M&A journey has helped develop Ocorian into a multi-jurisdictional fund administration and corporate service provider of scale. There is more to come as the firm looks ahead to grow further in global markets.

The growth of Ocorian since its 2016 carve-out by Inflexion has been truly transformational. The business had 250 employees at the time of independence and has since swelled over six-fold to approx. 1,800 today, with M&A a huge part of its journey and success. 13 acquisitions (and counting) have taken place across the UK, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, the US and Asia.

There is no one-size-fits-all for M&A, with the businesses purchased spanning different sizes and geographies. Things kicked off in 2017 when three acquisitions took place in just six months. Each purchase enhanced Ocorian’s service provision to clients and / or extended its geographical presence.

“M&A is accelerating our corporate strategy. It’s a buy or build decision and in many cases for us it’s faster to pursue acquisitive over organic expansion in a new geography or service line,” explains Chantal Free, CEO of Ocorian.

This initial cadence gave way to integration before the transformative acquisition of Estera in 2020, which made Ocorian the seventh largest corporate, funds and trust player in the world by revenue. Joining forces was mutually beneficial, with Ocorian clients benefiting from Estera's established Americas presence (Bermuda, BVI and Cayman), and Estera clients able to leverage Ocorian's strong links to the Middle East and Africa.

The firm has made seven additional acquisitions since Estera, each adding further scale with the acquisition of Nordic Trustee in 2021 providing access to the fast-growing Nordic bond and direct lending markets.

Foundation for M&A success

An M&A strategy with the calibre and cadence of Ocorian’s requires substantial resource and has been underpinned by the partnership with Inflexion, whose relevant experience with Sanne, a business similar to Ocorian, means a deep understanding in how to drive growth in this industry. Ocorian’s international ambitions are equally well catered for given Inflexion’s extensive international M&A experience. This expertise supports Ocorian’s own resource, with a proactive approach helping to steer processes and resulting in four of the firm’s recent acquisitions being bilateral.

Ocorian has impressive resource, with the firm’s corporate development team comprising four people including Simon. Relationships with advisers support the firm’s origination success, as well as Ocorian’s senior leaders who each have extensive industry connections.

When it comes to the all-important first point of contact, Simon believes the opening conversation matters a lot. “We prefer to engage directly rather than an adviser liaising on our behalf. Having a well-resourced in-house team means we own the relationships and therefore own the message,” he explains.

Ocorian’s ownership of the process extends to diligence, with Simon feeling many aspects (aside from legal and financial) are best done internally. “Our HR team knows how Ocorian works and what areas it’s focused on so it’s better and easier to do that work in-house and having a bigger team helps.”

The M&A journey has been supported by significant investment into technology – crucial to help integrate the acquisitions to maximise synergies and to ensure best-in-class client service. The end of 2021 saw the business pivot from being managed geographically to being managed based on global service lines. This move enabled Ocorian to implement a consistent global platform and the same core back-end infrastructure for accounting, HR, etc. “Shifting to a service line for funds, for example, better equipped us to go to market globally as we have a consistent offering. It also now means new acquisitions are brought onto an existing robust platform, so integration is more straightforward,” Simon says. Today Ocorian operates from 20+ key global jurisdictions and serves over 8,000 clients globally.

Looking ahead, more international acquisitions are on the agenda. The time-consuming nature of penetrating new geographies or new capabilities means M&A will continue to be a strategic enabler. “Acquisitions will continue to accelerate our future growth plans,” Simon enthuses. The US, Middle East and APAC will all be targets as Ocorian seeks to add new clients, people and capabilities.

Top tips for M&A


Have a clear corporate strategy and then consider how M&A can enable or accelerate it; M&A is not a strategy on its own. You can spend a lot of time evaluating interesting businesses, but if they don’t help you achieve your strategic goals they should be deprioritised. Having a strategy reduces the “kid in a candy store” tendency people can have.


Be proactive; don’t wait for an IM to hit your desk. Reach out to people in the businesses you’re interested in. It’s ultimately a much better position to be in early, as you can drive the timetable in a bilateral negotiation and reduce the competitive tension. This is particularly true for smaller founder-owned businesses where establishing a strong relationship and fit early on matters.

All Inflexion portfolio companies, regardless of size or ownership stake, have full access to our dedicated value acceleration resources covering digital enhancement, international expansion, M&A, ESG, commercial strategy and talent management. Our M&A expertise has supported more than 470 acquisitions for our portfolio companies, including 100+ international acquisitions across 32 countries.