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Netik Targets Service Model with Capco Reference Data Services Buy, Symphony as New Majority Investor

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Data warehouse provider Netik has completed a buyout of its business from The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation and simultaneously acquired Capco Reference Data Services (CRDS) from Capco. Netik is now pursuing a vision of transforming from a purely software business into a software and service business, bringing together the CRDS capability to scrub multiple data sources to create a “single version of the truth” with the Netik data warehouse technology for reporting and data management. The data warehouse fulfils the role of on-site “container” and handles downstream distribution of the cleansed data. The vendor says it is already working with five clients interested in this expanded service-based proposition.

The transaction was achieved through a strategic investment by Palo Alto-based Symphony Technology Group – which, via another fund, is also an investor in Capco. The fact that Symphony is now primary investor in both Netik and Capco is essentially a coincidence, according to Netik – with Symphony having been raised as a potential investor by Netik’s advisor in the deal Marlin & Associates – but is one element of synergy in a move described by Netik founder and CEO John Wise as “the most synergistic thing Netik has ever done”.

There has been speculation that Netik’s ownership might change since the merger of its majority investor Bank of New York with Mellon brought two competing technologies – Netik’s and Mellon-owned Eagle Investment Services – under the same roof. Wise insists Netik’s relationship with the bank remains strong, and says recently a division of the bank selected the Netik technology over the Eagle technology. Rather than reflecting a decision by the bank to pursue Eagle as its strategic data warehousing solution, in place of Netik, this move by Netik originated, Wise says, from a board meeting in October 2006 at which it was decided that a more traditional private equity backer would be preferable to being majority-owned by a bank. Since some 40 per cent of Netik’s clients are in the asset servicing space, it was proving a limitation to be owned by an entity potential customers perceived as a competitor, Wise says. (Indeed, he reckons, the change of ownership has already proved beneficial, with a couple of deals having been struck in the outsourcing space since Netik has been able, under NDA, to confirm to prospects that its share ownership is no long majority controlled by Bank of New York Mellon.)

He adds that he and Colin Close, now president of Netik, had also decided to pursue the move to a service model, responding to frequent client requests to provide the Netik data management and reporting solution on that basis. CRDS came into the frame as a potential acquisition because it was suggested that the business would be a better fit for Netik than for a consulting company.

Under the new set-up, the entire CRDS business, including the assets acquired through its purchase of Iverson, its outsourcing deal with ING and the Reference Data Manager rules-based matching system it inherited post Capco’s abortive joint venture with Reuters (Synetix), transfers to Netik. Wise says all 160 employees will join Netik, including Brian Lott, the COO of CRDS. Post the acquisition, Netik has more than 260 staff in five centres – California, New York, London, Dubai and Bangalore – servicing more than 80 financial institutions in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and North America. Symphony is now the majority owner of Netik, with Bank of New York Mellon a minority stakeholder.

The deal with Capco is so “synergistic”, he reckons, because “people don’t just want a consolidated feed: they want something they can look at”. While CRDS has been providing files of scrubbed data, Netik identified the opportunity to put the files into a data warehouse, which also has all the integration capabilities required to facilitate distribution of the data to other systems throughout the enterprise. “That was the vision we saw,” Wise says: “To take the feed into the container, accessible to anyone as a single source of data, replacing multiple distributed security masters.” Adds Close: “A key role of the container is to facilitate the distribution of that single source of data in and among the organisation upstream and downstream. That’s what the Netik heritage technology does.”

According to Wise, when Netik took the idea to the marketplace, five customers immediately expressed an interest: three projects are under way with clients from the CRDS business, and another two projects are also progressing apace, he says. There is, Close adds, “huge interest in the extended reference data capability” among Netik’s heritage clients.

Netik is targeting asset managers and asset servicers with the new proposition, including talking to asset servicers about the possibility of white labelling the Netik service. Several options will be available to clients, including taking just the scrubbed files or having those delivered into another data warehouse, as well as taking the Netik data warehouse with data pre-populated and maintained by Netik, and taking advantage of a version of the service hosted by Netik itself.

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