Down the Procurement Pub with Wax Digital, Xchanging, PepsiCo and Alessia Cara

Here is a picture of the legendary Sigi Osagie, in the “Boardroom” within the Pitcher and Piano pub in Cornhill, just opposite the Bank of England. We met this week, and he managed to commandeer this very pleasant virtually little private room for pretty much the whole afternoon for a couple of meetings we had. Lovely staff, very decent Merlot, but the Hobgoblin was not the best I’ve had to be honest.

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Manchester based procurement software business Wax Digital announced an investment from private equity firm August Equity. Paul Ellis, MD, Wax Digital, said, “This is a win-win for Wax Digital’s existing customers, employees and partners as well as those of tomorrow. In August Equity we have a highly supportive backer who will help us continue to evolve our eProcurement solutions market leadership, focus on customer service excellence ... August Equity will also help us further develop our international credentials, accelerating our penetration of overseas markets and building our appeal with large multinationals, as well as seeking out targeted acquisition opportunities to enhance our solutions and market presence.”

August is a fairly small investment manager, with around £350 million under management and 10 firms in their stable, and is strong in healthcare with other (fairly limited) interests in technology and business services. A quick scan of their website suggests they are patient, with current investments going back as far as 2008. So not an investor that is going to look for a super-quick return perhaps, which is good news for customers of the firm. Does August have experience in helping tech firms like Wax grow faster? We will have to see.

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I wrote an article here for our US site on the big news in the marketing world – that PepsiCo, one of the biggest advertising spenders in the world, has fired its entire marketing procurement team. Is this the beginning of the end for procurement spend coverage in that area? Probably not, but it is salutary warning for procurement people everywhere! Do read the article and we will have more on this next week.

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It looked like Capita’s bid for Xchanging was quietly progressing towards a conclusion, when suddenly in the last week two US firms have jumped in with higher (provisional) offers. IT giant Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) offered 170p per share (Capita’s offer is at 160p), then one of Xchanging’s US competitors in the insurance software space, Ebix, jumped in at 175p. We would be surprised if either of those would be particularly interested in the procurement outsourcing and technology elements of the business, unlike Capita who may well be, so the position is now one of even greater uncertainty for Xchanging staff and customers in that area. The US firms have until early December to decide whether to make their offers formal.

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I know some people might think our love of a huge breadth of popular music, from Iron Maiden to Grimes, from Steeleye Span to Kanye West, is a bit weird – but we also look on it as a bit of a public service. We tipped artists such as Lady Gaga before they broke through, and we look on it as a chance to help procurement colleagues and friends who might be (just) over 30 impress their younger siblings, children, grandchildren, disgustingly young colleagues... So here is one for the kids, and one to say you “knew” her before she was huge. Alessia Cara is 17 (17!! For heaven’s sake...), Canadian, has a really interesting voice, and is ridiculously talented. This is just a great pop song.

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