SPAC surge sees return of serial software business builder Vin Murria
Investors have an opportunity to ride the value creation coattails of Vin Murria, the serial software sector entrepreneur who has twice made a packet for shareholders.
Murria will chair AdvancedAdvT (ADVT), a so-called SPAC (special purpose acquisition company) which has raised £130 million from investors with a remit to target mid-sized privately-owned software businesses. She is expected to take an active role in the company’s strategy and the selection of targets.
Her career spans more than two decades of listed company leadership, venture capital and private equity, centred around mergers and acquisitions in the software sector.
The multi award-winning technology entrepreneur is best known for turning a £12 million software business into a £750 million company for investors at Advanced Computer Software, a company Shares told readers to buy multiple times, first in November 2011 when the shares traded at 44p. The company was eventually sold to private equity firm Vista Equity Partners in a £750 million deal, with shareholders getting a 140p per share cash bonanza.
Before that Murria had netted investors a 10-fold return when she led a 2007 management buyout of Computer Software Group, a business she had set up in the early 2000s.
Murria has bought £17.5 million of AdvancedAdvT shares in the fundraising, which was priced at 100p each, giving her a 13.1% stake in the business.
She will be reunited with Gavin Hugill as chief operating officer, who previously worked alongside Murria at Advanced Computer Software.
AdvancedAdvT says its principal focus will be finding software businesses in the UK, Europe and North America.
The UK software space has seen an explosion of takeover activity throughout the pandemic as investors looked to capitalise on the accelerated go-digital trend.
That has inflated valuations across the sector, something that analysts believe will present a challenge to AdvancedAdvT, considering valuations are ‘now somewhat different to those Murria experienced while building up Advanced Computer Software,’ says Megabuyte analyst Lee Prout.
‘More broadly, the interesting point is that this is the first example of the SPAC type model that is making hay in the US landing in the UK tech sector,’ Prout adds.