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Apax Partners Acquires HR/Payroll Firm Zellis Group


Private equity group Apax Partners will acquire HR/payroll software firm Zellis from Bain Capital.

“Zellis is a recognised leader in the payroll and HR software market, a sector that we know well from previous Apax Fund investments, including Paycor,” Apax Partner Roy Mackenzie said in a news release provided to PYMNTS Monday (April 15).

“We have been closely tracking Zellis for some time, and we believe that the investments in technology and go-to-market infrastructure that the Zellis team have made have positioned the company for long-term success.”

Zellis had been acquired by Bain in 2017. Since then, the release said, the company has been building cloud-based HR and payroll offerings, and has added a benefits administration software platform via its acquisition of Benefex in 2018.

According to the release, the company serves roughly “one third of the FTSE 100,” with its payroll software used to pay or reward around.5 million people each month, with clients that include Credit Suisse, carmakers Land Rover and Jaguar, Irish airline Aer Lingus and British department store Harrods.

The Benefex business helps companies throughout 90+ countries offer employees benefits, wellbeing, rewards and recognition and a communications platform.

Financial terms were not revealed. However, the announcement follows reports from January that Bain was looking to sell Zellis in a deal that would value the company at $2.5 billion.

Last month saw reports that the merger and acquisition (M&A) landscape was blossoming after a long fallow period, with major M&A deals — those worth at least $10 billion — more than doubling during the first quarter of this year.

“Mega-deals are thriving,” Tyler Dickson, head of investment banking at Citigroup, told the Financial (FT) Times, adding that companies are “capitalizing on the market conditions to accelerate growth.”

The total value of global M&A climbed 30% to $690 billion, even as the total number of deals announced fell by nearly a third, according to the FT. It’s a boom in activity that comes on the heels of last year’s decade-long low.

“We’re back to average, or back to normal,” said Andre Kelleners, head of M&A in Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Goldman Sachs, per the report. “We’ve seen a real, robust rebound from exceptionally low levels this period a year ago.”