CentralNic Expands Into France With SafeBrands Acquisition

CentralNic Group, the ever expanding London-based domain name and web services company, has announced its first foray into the French-speaking world with the acquisition of SafeBrands, a leading online brand protection software provider and corporate internet services provider.

SafeBrands, which targets the French-speaking markets of France and Canada and is based in France, was acquired by CentralNic, CentralNic announced on 9 January 2021. The acquisition was for cash of up €3.6m ($4.4m), representing 0.9x its FY2019 revenue. SafeBrands operated at approximately breakeven in FY2019. Out of the total consideration, €3m ($3.7m) was paid upfront with the remaining €0.6m ($0.7m) to be paid subject to SafeBrands having met agreed FY20 financial objectives.

SafeBrands is a leading French corporate registrar, with a stable and growing base of clients, including some of the leading French brands. It offers registration management for all Top-Level Domains and a wide range of Value Added Services for domain management and brand protection, including secure hosting, DNS optimisation and SSL management. According to CentralNic’s announcement, “SafeBrands’ talented R&D team has a history of innovation and has developed cutting-edge proprietary monitoring solutions used by global brands to find and take action against fraud and counterfeits. Its multi-language SaaS platform analyses millions of relevant results every day, backed up by an extensive team of IP experts. SafeBrands is therefore ideally positioned to take advantage of the brand protection, DNS and Hosting markets which are all growing rapidly as COVID has accelerated the digitization of business.”

While SafeBrands’ online brand protection products and expertise have, to date, been available to companies based in French-speaking markets, CentralNic plans to offer these services, which help businesses protect their revenue streams in digital channels, through its global Brand Services offering, which currently serves clients worldwide through teams based in the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, New Zealand, and other countries.

SafeBrands’ strong presence in France, one of the largest internet services markets globally, complements CentralNic’s brand services business, which includes a leading corporate registrar in Germany, BrandShelter, formerly Key-Systems. This positions CentralNic as the European champion for corporate domain portfolio management and online brand protection, as well as one of the top three global leaders available to serve customers in any country.

“The acquisition of SafeBrands is an important next step for CentralNic in our strategy to provide comprehensive end-to-end digital domain name and online brand protection services to enterprise clients, globally,” said Ben Crawford, CentralNic Group CEO.

“We are delighted that SafeBrands, its talented team of domain and IP protection experts, cutting-edge software and service portfolio and established business relationships, are becoming part of our Group. Intellectual Property is the lifeblood of any company, creating value and differentiation, and the successful future of any brand depends on protecting its IP with maximum efficiency. SafeBrands’ brand protection products will help CentralNic further broaden our capabilities in this space, creating an unparalleled suite of solutions for our current and future customers.”

“In the fast-growing domain name market, this represents a fantastic opportunity for SafeBrands to join the CentralNic family with the clear ambition to create a world leader in corporate domain management, online brand protection and DNS security,” added Charles Tiné, CEO and founder of SafeBrands.

“We share many common values that are reflected in the many synergies between our teams and technical platforms. CentralNic’s resources and growth strategy are aligned with our ambitions and point to a very exciting future. After 23 years of organic and independent development, SafeBrands’ Director General Frederic Guillemaut and I are convinced we have found the perfect fit for SafeBrands V2.”

As well as the SafeBrands acquisition, CentralNic also announced it is renaming its Corporate division as the Enterprise division, in line with its prior practice. Brand Services are currently the key constituent of the Enterprise division and the Group has appointed Haydn Simpson as Head of Brand Services. Haydn is a seasoned executive bringing over 20 years of domain management and brand protection leadership experience to the division, having previously held senior commercial and operational roles at NetNames, CSC and BrandSight (currently GoDaddy Corporate Domains).

As part of this reorganisation, CentralNic has entered into an arrangement with Novagraaf, one of the world’s largest trademark and patent filers, which was announced on 4 January. Novagraaf manages more than one million IP assets on behalf of customers, and represents many of the world’s major trademark and patent owners. The arrangement includes a reciprocal reseller agreement for domain names and brand protection services, and CentralNic selling its minority stake in ThomsenTrampedach, a Swiss-based Online Brand Protection service provider, to Novagraaf. Being an equity consolidated minority, there will be no impact on revenue and negligible impact on EPS.

“We are thrilled to join Novagraaf, which will enable us to not only broaden our product portfolio in the area of legal advice and IP portfolio management, but also to leverage on Novagraaf’s global presence providing 24/7 services to our clients across continents”, said Thomsen Trampedach partner Jannik Skou who will join Novagraaf as Managing Director of Thomsen Trampedach and member of the management team of the trademarks line of business. “Novagraaf and Thomsen Trampedach are a good cultural fit and I very much look forward to combining our services and our shared passion for protecting and promoting brands online and offline.”

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