25 March 2014

European angel investment rises in Q1, French price comparison site among investments

Western European angel investment levels look impressive as Q1 nears an end, according to data from Zephyr, the M&A database published by Bureau van Dijk. Even though there is still more than a week and a half left of March at the time of writing, aggregate deal values have already edged past the level recorded in the closing three months of 2012. So far this year there have been 67 transactions worth a combined EUR 103 million. This currently represents a 12 per cent decline in volume and a very slight increase of EUR 1 million on Q4 2013. It is hard to say whether volume will be able to surpass the 76 recorded over the last quarter, but it is unlikely to be by a large amount if so. Q1 2014’s value is currently the highest recorded since the second quarter of 2013, when there was dealmaking of EUR 133 million.

Of the transactions which took place in the opening three months of this year, 11 were announced in March and these had an aggregate value of EUR 16 million. The values of these deals ranged from a high of EUR 5 million to a low of EUR 250,000, although there were also three with undisclosed considerations. The month’s largest deal involved Germany-based TVSMILES, developer of a mobile television advertisement reward programme application, which raised just over EUR 5 million from VenTech, e.ventures, German Startups Group Berlin, BC Brandenburg Capital, MAGIX and a number of undisclosed business angels. The investment is also notable for being the eighth largest of 2014 to date. Other countries targeted in March include Finland, Ireland, the UK and Austria. The month’s second highest-valued deal involved Helsinki-headquartered mobile games developer Next Games, which secured just over EUR 4 million through a Series A round led by IDG Capital and angel Jari Ovaskainen, AMC Network Ventures, Lowercase Capital and York Ventures. More notable is the fact that of the 12 top European angel investments recorded in March, four had French targets.

The most valuable of these was a EUR 2 million round for Boulogne Billancourt-based supermarket price comparison website operator MonsieurDrive.com. The investment was led by Schibsted Growth with participation from a number of undisclosed business angels. Schibsted, which also has a stake in used goods comparison site Leboncoin.fr, plans to reinvest in the business, although the amount depends on its growth. MonsieurDrive.com was established in May 2013 and now has access to pricing information for large chains such as Auchan, Carrefour, Leclerc and Intermarché. The service enables users to figure out the best brand for them based on how much they are willing to spend on their shopping. According to Journal du Net, proceeds will be used to add new outlets, strengthen its existing operations and employ more staff.

MonsieurDrive is far from the only data processing platform company to have piqued the interest of angel investors over the last couple of years. On the contrary, the sector has been targeted plenty of times worldwide since the beginning of 2006. The most valuable global angel investment in the industry over that timeframe took the form of a EUR 240 million injection in Brazilian online logistics contracts and services comparison platform Sontra by Mola Factory and senior executives of JP Morgan, Bank of America Corporation, DHL and NXTP Labs. The highest valued European angel investment since the beginning of 2006 was German small business process mobile and online application platform operator NumberFour, which brought in USD 38 million in a round led by Index Venture Management and also including Allen & Company, T-Venture Holding, Lakestar as well as individuals including Mr Andreas von Bechtolsheim, Mr Lars Hinrichs, Mr Simon Levene, Mr Jerry Yang and Mr Klaus Hommels.

However, the majority of the data processing platform firms targeted worldwide over the last nine years were based in the US, with Pet Hub, Fab.com and LivingSocial among those in the country to have received funding.

To sum up, the first quarter of 2014 has already surpassed both Q3 and Q4 2013 in terms of value and is actually higher than any other quarter since the beginning of 2006, with the exception of Q2 2013 and Q2 2012. Although the opening three months of this year look unlikely to reach these levels over the next ten days, one blockbuster deal could change that and as Q2 has represented a high for the last two years running, many will be hoping this year can continue this trend and reach new highs.

© Zephyr