Tharstern MBO fuels Aus expansion

MIS provider Tharstern is targeting rapid international expansion after its senior management bought the company from its UK-based owner.

Managing director Keith McMurtrie, technical director Antony Lord and sales director Lee Ward become the new owners, along with private equity group Mobeus Equity Partners, of the $7.3m a year company that has about 50 customers in Australia and New Zealand.

Tharstern Australia and New Zealand managing director Tresta Keegan says the management buyout is good for Australian customers because it means the software will continue to get full support instead of being closed down if bought by a competitor.

“MIS is an expensive business-critical system that is not changed easily, and having a recently bought system left unsupported can be one of the worst things to happen to a business,” she says.

“Customers need to have good partnerships with their MIS provider and we have proved we are serious about that, not just selling software, by keeping ownership in-house.”

[Related: More mergers and acquisitions news]

Keegan says the MBO opens up more growth opportunities in Australia because it will give potential customers the confidence that it is interested in building partnerships and investing in the industry.

Former owner Richard Bannister, the son-in-law of Tharstern founder Keith Harrison, decided to sell the non-core MIS business to focus on his mostly retail holdings and approached management about a buyout.

McMurtrie says the deal allows the company to further invest in research and development and aggressively expand around the world.

“We already have a number of installations globally, but we want to expand on that. We’ve continued to get good growth in the home market in the past 18 months, but we want to push that further afield now,” he says.

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