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PDFTron’s latest acquisition spree draws a bead on Europe

Vancouver tech firm acquires eighth company since 2019
PDFTron co-founders and board directors Catherine Andersz and Ivan Nincic at the company’s Vancouver office | Chung Chow, BIV

One of the more aggressive B.C. tech players in the M&A game has set its sights on its second European acquisition since the spring.

After acquiring Belgium-founded iText Group NV back in April, Vancouver’s PDFTron Systems Inc. has now closed a deal to buy German competitor PDFlib GmbH, the company announced July 7.

Terms of both those deals were not disclosed.

But the latest acquisitions come after private equity firm Thoma Bravo made a strategic investment in the B.C. company in May 2021, leaving its co-founders as well as investor Silversmith Capital Partners as “significant shareholders,” according to the company.

On the same day the iText deal was announced, co-founders Catherine Andersz and Ivan Nincic revealed they were departing their respective roles as CEO and chief technology officer. The pair both continue to serve on the company's board, while Cassidy Smirnow now serves as CEO and Joel Martins has taken over the CTO job.

Silversmith Capital Partners had led a US$71-million investment in PDFTron back in 2019, which helped kicked off a previous acquisition spree.

“We’ve reached a point where we want to take the company to the next level. At this point we wanted to partner with someone who really understands how to do that, how to expand globally, has a good skill set that’s different from ours,” then-CEO Andersz told BIV in 2019, referring to Silversmith Capital Partners.

The latest two acquisitions give the B.C. company a bigger footprint in the European Union after buying up six other smaller companies between 2019 and 2021.

Three of those prior acquisitions were based in the U.S. and one was in New Zealand, while the remaining two companies were based in the U.K., which left the EU in 2020.

PDFTron is best known for competing with Adobe Inc. (Nasdaq:ADBE) in the realm of document processing tools.

PDFTron’s international acquisitions since 2019:

•          PDFlib (Germany)

•          iText (Belgium)

•          Solid Documents (New Zealand)

•          Windward Studios Inc. (Colorado)

•          PDF3D (U.K.)

•          ActivePDF (California)

•          Iceni Technology (U.K.)

•          BCL Technologies (California)

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