Ireland’s Version 1 completes second UK deal in three months with Rocela Group purchase

Rocela deal part of IT group’s ambitious plan to grow revenues to €1 billion annually

Irish IT services company Version 1 has acquired Edinburgh-based consultancy Rocela Group for an undisclosed sum. This is the company's second acquisition in the UK in the past three months and marks the latest step in its ambitious plan to grow its revenues to €1 billion over the next decade.

"We want to create a billion euro business," its chief executive Justin Keatinge told The Irish Times yesterday. "We're targeting growth of 30 per cent year on year – half organic and half by acquisition. It will take about 10 years to reach our plan."

Mr Keatinge declined to comment on the purchase price for Rocela but said it was a mix of cash and shares. Mr Keatinge will head the combined entity with Rocela's chief executive and co-founder Martin Mutch remaining in a consultancy capacity.

Rocela was set up in 2001 and employs 75 staff in Edinburgh and Knutsford, near Manchester. Its customers include a number of FTSE 100 companies, pan-European utilities and global banks.

The deal will bring Version 1’s total revenues to about €55 million a year. Version 1 achieved turnover of €36 million in 2013, according to Mr Keatinge, while Rocela has annual revenues of about £23.4 million (€28 million).


The deal will also bring Version 1's staff numbers to 500, of which 400 are based in Ireland.

IT systems

Founded in 1996, Version 1 implements IT systems for large corporates and government departments and also provides ongoing consultancy services. It specialises in Oracle and Microsoft systems.

Its customers include Irish insurer FBD, Cork-based wholesale group Musgrave, Irish Life, the Revenue Commissioners and the Department of Agriculture.

Version 1 is now targeting the UK market. “We want to make multiple acquisitions there over the next couple of years,” Mr Keatinge said. In November, the company acquired the UK business of European IT services company Tieto Corporation.

As an unlimited company, Version 1 is not required to publish its annual accounts. Mr Keatinge said it was “profitable” but declined to disclose details. He said a stock market IPO (initial public offering) might be considered in the future to generate funds for acquisitions. To date, the company has grown using its retained profits.

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock is Business Editor of The Irish Times