Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 April 2014

Software firm goes for global presence

First Derivatives has continued its quest to become a global force in the financial software world by spending $10m (£6m) on a hi-tech US business.

The Newry company has bought Reference Data Factory (RDF), a New Jersey-based software firm that specialises in reference data management systems to expand its presence in financial data management.

The expansion comes just a week after First Derivatives posted a hefty 36% rise in annual pre-tax profits to £3.1m and increased its stake in another US company, Kx Systems, to 20%.

It also featured again on this year's Deloitte's Fast 50 list of the fastest growing companies on the island of Ireland.

Founded in 1996, First Derivatives has already become an international financial solutions provider, employing more than 300 people worldwide and counting many of the world's top investment banks and hedge funds as its customers. It has operations in London, New York, Stockholm, Shanghai, Singapore, Toronto and Hong Kong.

With Andor Technology and UTV, it's one of only three Northern Ireland-based firms which has its shares listed on the stock market.

Finance director Graham Ferguson told Business Telegraph the acquisition is the latest step to becoming a market leader in its field.

"We have a strategic roadmap of where we want to take our product suite and this acquisition will accelerate that plan," he said.

"Our goal is to be the best capital markets software and services provider in the world.

"We are striving to continue to improve the business, our product offering and to be at the forefront of the industry."

He said the acquisition aims to capitalise on the intellectual property held by RDF to make First Derivatives' products more attractive to capital market clients.

"We already have the client contacts and they are huge organisations so the opportunities for cross selling are substantial," said Mr Ferguson.

"Our key markets are Europe and the US and we will continue to keep expanding in these markets."

The banking software firm received over £3m from Invest NI to support more than 100 new jobs in early 2009.

In September the company announced it was investing £2m, part funded by Invest NI, in its Options Programme for training up new graduate recruits.

"Our plan is to expand in physical terms and in terms of our product offering and hopefully that will see our employee base continue to increase," said Mr Ferguson.

"We are a software provider and a service provider and so it is key we continue to add to our talent pool."

First Derivatives will pay $2.5m up front in cash and shares for RDF, with a potential $7.5m in cash to follow by 2012, depending on sales generated.

First Derivatives said RDF's products fit with its existing in-house Delta software products and will be incorporated into its Delta product suite with minimal fuss.

RDF's software manages and distributes security master and securities reference data for financial institutions.

It is currently in use in several Wall Street banks and other related entities such as Fitch Ratings.