LDC-backed Onecom creates ‘powerhouse’ with acquisition of 9 Group companies

Onecom, the UK business telecoms and cloud communications provider, has added thousands of fixed line and cloud customers and hundreds of channel partners to its portfolio in a deal with 9 Group.

As part of the transaction 9 Retail, which has over 5,000 telephony, hosted voice and on-premise customers, becomes a Onecom Group company along with 9 Partners, which supports 450 indirect channel partners, providing a suite of integrated connectivity solutions, localised customer service and billing and analytics.

This strategic acquisition marks Onecom’s second major deal in as many months, following its acquisition of Olive Communications in February, and the fourth since leading mid-market private equity firm LDC backed the business in July 2019.

It creates a powerhouse group while moving Onecom’s product mix of mobile and non-mobile communications solutions to a broadly 50/50 split which includes a full range of broadband and data connectivity, cloud telephony, contact centre and collaboration services to complement its unrivalled mobile heritage.

The acquired companies will retain their branding and continue to trade separately as clearly distinct “direct and indirect” routes to market, while benefiting from Onecom’s resources and investment capacity, its leading position as the UK’s largest independent business communications provider and its strategic relationships with key partners including Vodafone, Mitel and Samsung.

Onecom will deliver additional services to the 9 Partner channel to continue to drive growth and innovation. James Palmer, founder and CEO of 9 Group, will remain actively involved with the business along with his management team.

Martin Flick, Onecom CEO, said: “This is a highly significant strategic acquisition for Onecom Group, strengthening our portfolio and further diversifying our revenue streams by adding a large non-mobile telephony provider and a fantastic channel partner community as a new route to market in one move.

“Supporting and investing in channel partners is essential to our ambition as we go forward. We have a well-established footprint in enterprise and the mid-market and the acquisition will help us, through valued partners, drive sales of our exceptional products and services to businesses of all sizes, with a high degree of proximity to customer need that only a channel can deliver to SMBs at this scale.

“For the Onecom team to have made two such important acquisitions in such a short space of time, and during the pandemic, is testament to the strength of our team and our ability to drive growth and consolidation in this competitive market, with strong support from our investment partners LDC.

“Onecom founder Darren Ridge has been instrumental in working with James to forge the opportunity our enlarged group now represents and I am hugely excited to be leading the team in growing and developing the strategy to the benefit of our mutual customers and channel partners alike.

“Both our direct and indirect sales teams now have the combined benefit of huge management experience, access to an unrivalled portfolio of complementary products and services, and market leading billing, online management and support capabilities.”

James Palmer, CEO of 9 Group, said: “Onecom and 9 Group are a perfect marriage, sharing a like-minded culture focused on enjoying our work and striving for excellence in everything we do. I am excited about bringing our two businesses together and working with the Onecom team so that customers and partners across the board benefit from new opportunities of scale and increased capability.”

Yann Souillard, Head of London at LDC, added: “Acquiring 9 Group will further expand Onecom’s offering and help it reach even more customers, underlining its position as one of the fastest-growing business telecoms providers in the UK.

“We continue to work closely with all of our portfolio companies to help them to captialise on acquisition opportunities which help build scale and resilience.”

Following the transaction, Onecom becomes the owner of the 9 Group brand. Former 9 Group company eve Networks and the group’s separate IT business are not part of the deal, and will remain under their existing ownership.

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