Mazars sets IT wing free

Managers at Mazars Neville Russell’s specialist IT consultancy wing bought the operation from the parent accountancy firm last week for an undisclosed sum.

US corporate investment group Network & Desktop Consulting helped to fund the buyout and took a majority stake in the new company, Advantage Business Systems. Advantage managing director Chris da Silva said the new investment would help Advantage handle the increasing Dynamics range of financial and enterprise management software from US developer Great Plains.

‘If you are going to be a top reseller, you need to be able to handle the full range of applications to be able to grow. That requires investment capital and is different to the norm in an accountancy practice,’ said da Silva.

Great Plains UK managing director Neil Robertson said that with NDC’s backing, Advantage was ‘one of the first superVARs’ to enter the UK market ‘with both the skills and the funding to capitalise on the large enterprise sector of the market’.

While Mazars will gain a one-off windfall from the buyout, it will miss the on-going revenue from the Dynamics dealership, which has doubled in each of the past two years. There was considerable internal discussion leading up to the deal, which da Silva said was ‘very amicable’.

Mazars senior partner John Mellows commented: ‘Growth of the systems business has been excellent but as it grows larger, it fits less comfortably within our practice environment and is not considered to be within the core service provided by Mazars.’ Seeking outside investment was the best way to reach its fullest potential, he added.

Advantage will continue to operate from Mazars’ London headquarters for the next few months and the practice will continue to rely on the reseller for financial software and technical support.

When da Silva first signed up as a Dynamics reseller in 1997, referrals from the accountancy practice helped generate new business. ‘That is less of a factor now,’ he said. ‘Our target company is larger and would tend to have a Big Five or top ten auditor.’

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