Lisa Melchior’s Vertu closes inaugural deal, buys Novacap-backed Firmex

Vertu Capital has teamed up with BDC Capital to acquire Firmex, a Toronto provider of virtual data rooms and secure document sharing solutions.

Terms weren’t disclosed.

Vertu and BDC partnered on the deal with top management, including Joel Lessem, the company’s co-founder and CEO, according to a news release.

Debt financing was provided by Bank of Montreal.

The seller is Novacap’s mid-market tech group, which acquired Firmex in 2016. The deal was the investor’s first in the software/SaaS market of Toronto.

Launched in 2006, Firmex supports complex processes, including diligence, compliance and litigation, for organizations of all sizes and in a range of industries. To date, it has served more than 120,000 businesses worldwide.

Firmex is the inaugural investment of Vertu, a tech private equity firm founded two years ago by Lisa Melchior, a former managing director of OMERS Private Equity.

Melchior’s initial goal was to invest her own and co-investor capital in late-stage tech companies in Canada “seeking breakout growth and needing a partner to get there,” she told PE Hub Canada in 2017.

Once the Toronto firm validated its thesis and built a deal pipeline, it would consider assembling a team and raising a fund, she said.

Since then, Vertu has been sourcing opportunities among tech companies with $20 million-plus revenue and a strategy to expand organically or through acquisitions.

Melchior served with OMERS for more than 17 years, leading North American tech investing.

BDC invested in Firmex through its growth equity group. Led by Claude Miron, a BDC vice president, the group was capitalized in 2017 with $250 million to invest as a long-term minority partner to companies in Canada’s lower-mid market.

Firmex’s acquisition provides an exit to Novacap TMT IV, which raised $380 million in 2014.

Last July, Novacap closed that fund’s successor, Novacap TMT V, securing $840 million.

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