The £20m deal: Why Pret owner Bridgepoint took a 40% stake in London tech star MVF

We speak to MVF CEO Titus Sharpe

In a deal rumoured to be worth £20m, Pret A Manger owner Bridgepoint has taken a 40% stake in London-based customer acquisition company MVF.

Voted as the UK’s fastest-growing tech company in 2013, MVF has 200 employees in over 55 countries. To keep up with rapid growth, the company hired 100 people in 100 days last year.

For those of you who don’t know, MVF is an online digital publisher with technology platforms that help generate leads for customers.

In an interview with LondonlovesBusiness.com in 2013, CEO Titus Sharpe (seated second from left in the above photo), explained how the company works: “… for example, we work with British Gas, which installs solar panels in a lot of UK homes. We provide all the advertising across digital channels for them, like SEO, PPC, media-buying, email list buying, affiliates and general display advertising.”

So what is MVF going to do with the new investment? We asked Sharpe:

Q. Congrats, how did the deal come about?

Over the past year we have been looking for a private equity firm to invest in MVF to take us to the next stage and accelerate our growth. Obviously we had to find a company who understood our culture and what we do, who would help us to grow, while maintaining all of the aspects that make MVF so successful, and Bridgepoint Development Capital were the perfect fit.

Q. How is the investment going to help MVF?

The investment is going to accelerate MVF’s growth, facilitate our international expansion and help us with potential acquisitions. We have experienced many successes over the years as an SME, like winning a Queen’s Award for Enterprise, being ranked the number one fastest growing tech company by the Sunday Times, and this investment marks MVF coming of age as a company.

Q. How many countries are you expanding to?

From London we operate in over 55 countries already, but we have just finalised plans for a new office the US, which is exciting, and once that is up and running, we will look to expand further.

Q. Are you going to hire more people?

2014 was a huge growth period for the company as we hired 100 people in 100 days, so we are used to rapid expansion and we have achieved this while still being voted an extraordinary place to work by our staff in the Sunday Times Best Companies poll. There will undoubtedly be more jobs created by the investment and the opportunities it will present to the business. We are actually hiring at the moment so interested parties can go to the website to see - www.mvfglobal.com/current-vacancies

Q. Why did you choose Bridgepoint?

It was important to us that the private equity firm we chose would allow MVF to retain its own identity and vision. What we liked about Bridgepoint was that they were happy for us to control the company and still dictate how the company operates, so while it is a substantial deal which will inject some real capital into the business, it will not alter how MVF is run.

Q. Forty percent is a big stake – were you nervous giving up so much control?

The majority of MVF is actually still owned by the founding directors, so we still have the biggest percentage. I previously sold Approved Index, one of our B2B platforms, and subsequently bought it back, so I have some experience with this sort of transaction and I felt confident that Bridgepoint were the right investors for MVF.

Q. How will day-to-day operations of the business change?

Overall it will be business as usual for MVF. The only changes on the horizon relate to our growth and the scalability of the business; there will be new opportunities, new business avenues and lots of international development but to the staff coming through the doors in the morning MVF will remain unchanged.

Q. Finally, what’s your ultimate vision for MVF?

I am excited to see MVF become a truly global company and a pioneer for UK tech.

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