BGF has agreed to successfully exit its investment in digital marketing company Zone following its acquisition by Cognizant (Nasdaq: CTSH), one of the world’s leading professional services companies. The acquisition is expected to close in 2017.
Upon completion, Zone will become part of the Cognizant Digital Business Practice, enhancing the breadth and depth of its offering to existing and future clients in the UK and internationally.
BGF invested in Zone in February 2015, backing an organic and acquisitive growth strategy that has resulted in increased revenues and profitability. The funding has been used to support three acquisitions, strengthening Zone’s European presence, and investment in a new head office in London’s Kings Cross to accommodate its larger team. Since the investment, Zone has brought on-board new clients including Adidas, Aviva, Lloyds Banking Group, Maersk and Stagecoach, and has made a number of senior hires.
Set up in 2000, Zone’s growth has been driven by co-founders James Freedman, Anna Kissin and chief executive Jon Davie, with the support of the wider team, BGF and non-executive director Jim Kelly. James, Anna and Jon will remain within the company following the transaction, which will result in a good return for all shareholders.
The business was recognised as Agency of the Year 2016 by BIMA (British Interactive Media Association) and appeared in the LSE 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain and Sunday Times Tech Track 100.
The deal is being led for BGF by Ben Kirby who is based in the London office.
James Freedman, co-founder and executive chairman of Zone, said: “The investment from BGF helped us make a significant step-change in the past three years. BGF provided both capital and expertise as we opened in Germany and scaled at home. Now we’re excited about working with Cognizant on the next stage of our evolution.”
Ben Kirby, a BGF investor who served on the board of Zone said: “Zone has been entirely resolute in their ambitions to grow the company and provide an unrivalled digital offering to their clients. They have scaled through well-considered acquisitions and expansion in Europe. This has been a successful partnership for both BGF and Zone and we are pleased that in this next phase, Zone and the team can benefit from Cognizant’s extensive reach, particularly in the US.”