Whiteley: LDC-backed Onecom acquires Olive Communications

Onecom has acquired its closest rival, Olive Communications, in a move that creates the largest business-to-business mobile, fixed-line and cloud specialist in the UK.

Together, Onecom and Olive will provide services to more than 500,000 corporate and business end-users this year, generating a combined annual turnover of more than £140 million.

The acquisition was supported with follow-on funding from mid-market private equity firm LDC, which invested in Onecom in a £100m deal in July 2019 to fuel the Hampshire-based business’s ambitious three-year growth strategy. Growth capital investor BGF, which invested £10m into Olive in 2016, has exited the business as part of the deal.

Martin-Flick
Martin Flick

Olive’s chief executive, Martin Flick, is appointed CEO of Onecom Group. Darren Ridge, who founded Onecom in 2002 and has grown the business to achieve annual revenues of more than £90m, remains a significant shareholder and will remain active in his non-executive director role. The newly-expanded Onecom Group will continue to be headquartered in Whiteley, Hampshire.

Buckinghamshire-based Olive Communications has grown through organic and acquisitive means to more than £31m in annual revenue, pivoting its proposition in 2014 from being ‘mobile-only’ to become the UK’s leading cloud communications provider.

The acquisition brings together two of Vodafone’s most successful strategic partners. Onecom has been recognised as Vodafone Strategic Partner of the Year for an unrivalled 10 years, while in 2020, Olive was awarded Vodafone’s Innovation Partner of the Year Award.

Ridge, non-executive director of Onecom Group said: “I’m really proud of all that we have achieved so far at Onecom in leading the market to deliver exceptional service to our customers and forming strong relationships with key partners.

“We have seen Olive as healthy competitors for years, and their market reputation for delivering cloud services is unrivalled. The inevitable changes to working patterns across the UK and globally as a result of the pandemic have accelerated the need for integrated cloud communications and significantly increased demand for transformation and digitalisation.

“Bringing these two businesses together will significantly benefit our customers, partners and stakeholders and employees. I look forward to supporting Martin and the leadership team on this next chapter of our journey together.”

Flick, CEO of Onecom Group, added: “I’m delighted that Darren and the Onecom board have given me the opportunity to bring these two fantastic businesses together, boasting a combined talent pool that is the envy of the industry. This, coupled with ongoing support from LDC, will supercharge our ambitions.

“Our combined scale, expertise, experience and proximity to customer need affords us the perfect proposition to help customers of all sizes to navigate their journey through the short and long term economic landscape, leveraging technology from our established and emerging strategic partnerships, including Vodafone, Mitel, Google, Microsoft and others.

“Our ultimate objective this year is to help our customers continue to navigate the pandemic, and to be market-ready to transform, adapt and evolve their businesses with innovative cloud communications technologies that will empower UK PLC.”

Yann Souillard, head of London at LDC, said: “This marks the third acquisition Onecom has made since we invested in the business back in July 2019, and the combination of Olive and Onecom is a force to be reckoned with in the UK B2B telecoms market. At LDC we understand how a buy and build growth strategy can create scale and resilience; we enabled 35 bolt-on acquisitions across our portfolio in 2020 alone.”

Matthew Simcox, investor at BGF, said: “We backed Olive in 2016 and over the last five years, the business has continued to build on its mobile heritage and become a market leader in cloud communications. The merger with Onecom is a natural progression and we wish Martin Flick and his team all the best on their future journey.”

Onecom was advised by Goodwin Procter LLP, while George Green Solicitors acted for Olive.