Big Language Solutions (BIG) has acquired healthcare and insurance specialist ISI Language Solutions. The transaction closed in early September 2020, Jeff Brink, CEO at BIG, told Slator.
According to Brink, “It was a bit tricky closing a deal in the Covid environment, but everyone was committed to making it work. We conducted most of our due diligence via video conferencing and daily calls. However, our executive team did manage to travel for in-person meetings in LA back in early June.”
ISI is based in Glendale, California, while BIG operates out of Atlanta, Georgia. Some 70 ISI staff will join the BIG and ProTranslating organizations, bringing the total headcount of the Group to 300 FTEs. As previously reported, Brink in tandem with PE firm MSouth set up BIG to “assemble a portfolio of high-performing and complementary language service providers,” of which ProTranslating (USD 25m in annual revenues) was the first.
“We plan to invest heavily in technology and growth, and envision cross-sell opportunities with other BIG companies,” Brink said.
While Brink declined to discuss purchase price, earnings multiple paid, or ISI’s revenues (estimated to be USD 15m per year), he said the language service provider (LSP) has “established a powerful brand” in the healthcare and insurance industries, and has gained “many delighted long-term clients.” Brink said, “Our independent research on ISI yielded a net promoter score of 90%, which is extremely high.”
Brink heard about ISI via boutique advisory firm JSquare Conseil (which also advised on Acolad’s Telelingua and HL Trad deals); while ISI was advised by Nimdzi. Brink said the acquisition “fits nicely with our regulated-industry growth strategy.” In his June 2019 interview with Slator, Brink discussed their plan to focus on regulated sectors and other high-value content areas because “as we look long-term, the impact of NMT there will be less pervasive.”
George Rimalower founded ISI in 1982. According to Brink, Rimalower “saw firsthand how bridging a language gap could turn a situation from unnecessarily confusing and scary to familiar and reassuring. The son of Holocaust survivors who fled Nazi Germany, George spent his first dozen years amidst the political and economic chaos of Argentina in the 1950s and ’60s.”
Current ISI owners Emilie Villeneuve and Michael Bearden were long-term employees of the LSP before purchasing it from Rimalower in 2012. Villeneuve, who began as an assistant, stepped into the role of CEO, while Bearden, who started as a project manager, became President. “They bet on themselves, bought the business seven years ago from the founder, and achieved 300% growth,” Brink said.
He added that ISI uses a mix of linguists — subject-matter experts, FTEs, freelancers, seasonal staff — languages technologies, and tools, adjusting to the nature and size of the account or quickly building bandwidth as needed by its clients.
ISI’s being “extremely specialized” in HITRUST and ISO-certified language solutions, as Brink put it, and ability to comply with the regulatory requirements of highly regulated sectors for three decades will undoubtedly bolster BIG’s Life Sciences vertical.
Asked if there was any significant client overlap between ISI (which counts a number of large US healthcare providers among its clients) and the rest of the Group, Brink replied that there was “not much overlap,” and “ISI’s offering is very complementary to BIG and ProTranslating.”
He said ISI’s business comprises 85% document translation and 15% interpreting. “Although face-to-face interpreting is down, ISI’s overall business has actually grown during Covid-19. This was very appealing to us,” Brink added.
On their plans to expedite integration into the Group by, for one thing, streamlining TMSs and translation productivity tools, Brink said, “ISI currently uses Plunet, Memsource and Trados. We will bring ISI onto BIG’s proprietary technology stack in 2021.”
As the language industry continued to be attractive for investors through Covid — gauging by the more than two dozen M&A and Funding stories Slator covered over the past three months — we asked Brink if the coronavirus had any impact at all in terms of pricing expectations or even reduced dealmaking. He replied, “We decided not to ease off the accelerator from an investment and M&A perspective. It helps to be backed by such a great sponsor with deep pockets, like MSouth.”
Brink added, “I believe the uncertain times have driven more LSP owners to contemplate a potential exit. Our seller-friendly model has attracted a lot of attention. We allow owners to take some risk or money off the table while continuing to run their business, and provide access to growth capital and BIG resources.”Brink feels the marketplace has shifted from a seller’s to a buyer’s market, in the wake of Covid-19 and he now sees “great deal flow and reduced competition in this environment.”
So do BIG and MSouth still expect to close more transactions for the remainder of 2020? Brink replied, “Yes, we expect another announcement in late September and have the potential to close another deal yet this year.”
Image: Jeff Brink, CEO, BIG Language Solutions
Big Language Solutions(Big)收购了医疗和保险专家ISI Language Solutions。BIG首席执行官Jeff Brink告诉Slator，交易于2020年9月上旬完成。
Brink通过精品咨询公司JSquare Conseil(该公司也为Acolad的Telelingua和HL Trad交易提供咨询)得知ISI; Nimdzi给ISI提供建议。Brink表示此次收购“非常符合我们受监管行业的增长战略”。在2019年6月对Slator的采访中，Brink讨论了他们计划专注于受监管部门和其他高价值内容领域的计划，因为“从长期来看，NMT的影响将普遍减弱。”
当前的ISI所有者Emilie Villeneuve和Michael Bearden是LSP的长期雇员，之后于2012年从Rimalower购买了LSP。Villeneuve最初担任助理，后来担任首席执行官，而Bearden最初是项目经理，后来成为总裁。Bearden说:“他们把赌注押在自己身上，7年前从创始人手中收购这家企业，并实现了300%的增长。”
当被问及ISI（在其客户中有大量美国大型医疗保健提供者）与集团其他机构之间是否存在重大客户重叠时，“ISI的服务与BIG and ProTranslating非常互补，没有太大重叠。”，Brink回答说。
图片:Jeff Brink，BIG Language Solutions首席执行官