Ascent Refinances With HSBC To Boost Acquisition

Ascent, a European digital services provider, has entered into an agreement with HSBC UK to refinance its existing credit. This will provide liquidity for operations and strengthen Ascent’s overall M&A capabilities, with a pipeline of strategic acquisitions planned for within the next year.

Led by CEO Stewart Smythe, the main aims of Ascent’s Buy and Build Strategy are to locate a new regional source for technical talent, enter another European market, and expand the company’s data engineering and business intelligence (BI) capabilities.

Employing 420 staff across the UK, Malta, Bulgaria and 14 other countries worldwide, Ascent’s M&A plan includes the recent hire of experienced M&A Manager, Alexandra Kirezoglou, to drive skills and expertise to serve its customer locations.

Over the next 12 months, Ascent is planning several acquisitions, one of which is expected to close imminently. The integration of data analytics company Mango Solutions acquired in late 2020 is also now complete, embedding 40 data scientists into Ascent’s technical teams and leveraging tools such as Python and R for data analysis to build complex models and support data-led decision making.

Ascent’s continual M&A growth will enable the company to seize new market opportunities which are driven by a rapidly increasing global demand for digital services. Most of its revenues come from UK customers, but the company also serves customers in Europe and North America.

Stewart Smythe, CEO at Ascent said: “Our engagement with HSBC UK will increase the financial flexibility required for Ascent’s future growth. HSBC has an unrivalled understanding of our need to grow integrated software and data capabilities that deliver effective digital transformation for our customers. Our European operations have performed at record levels over the past 18 months.

“We leverage M&A for scale and have a £75m war chest to execute on our ambitions. Building our digital expertise through acquiring best-of-breed technology businesses and talent will enable Ascent to become a leading digital services company in the UK and Europe. Our refinance with HSBC will play an important part in supporting that growth by allowing us to invest in the right regions and connect talent to UK customers.”

Ascent has more than 150 customers across a broad range of verticals, including BrewDog, Centrica (Hive), Bosch, BT, BDO – and through its acquisition of Mango Solutions in 2020 – GSK, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Office of National Statistics and Hiscox.

Smythe continued: “Businesses of all sizes in all sectors are embracing digital. We’re here to help our customers align technology investment with business value, applying our consultative teams and software, data and cloud engineering talent to deliver remarkable digital strategies that enable exponential commercial gain.”

Danielle Hook, Director of Leveraged Finance at HSBC UK, said:  “We’re delighted to be supporting Ascent in its milestone buy-and-build strategy. This deal enables the business to strengthen its M&A capabilities, leverage impressive new talent and open doors to new technology and markets in Europe and globally.

“As a high-profile, high-growth company, the organic momentum that Ascent has achieved year-on-year is a testament to the business’s ability to proactively adapt to new digital solutions and deliver an effective, long-lasting impact for customers. This is a key moment for Ascent in realising its strategic growth ambitions to become a leading global digital services company.”

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