Norwegian hotel tycoon Petter Stordalen is among those who stand to log a handsome gain on the sale of Bergen-based graphics firm Vizrt. Known as the world’s leading firm in producing graphics for television, Vizrt attracted a takeover offer from Nordic Capital worth NOK 2.5 billion (USD 368 million).
The firm’s roots go back to 1992, when Bjarne Berg and Petter Ole Jakobsen started working together at Norway’s then-new nationwide commercial TV channel TV2. They wanted to improve the station’s news and weather graphics, and their introduction of innovative visuals for weather forecasting won international attention in 1994.
Their graphics venture was eventually spun off from TV2 and CNN became its next big customer in 1999. Since then, graphics from the company now known as Vizrt have been purchased by broadcasters worldwide, not least all the major networks in the US.
Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported that the pending sale to Nordic Capital represents a premium of 35 percent over its most recent stocklisting, and would mean a gain of around NOK 100 million for Stordalen, who has been the company’s second-largest owner with a 7 percent stake. A representative for Stordalen said he thinks Vizrt is worth more and “is now in play, so we’ll see what happens next.”
Company officials were viewing the sale as a done deal, with employees at Bergen headquarters reacting positively. “We think they (Nordic Capital) have bought us because they feel we’re a company that has a strong position in the market, they’re comfortable with our strategy and will support us on the way forward,” Martin Burkhalter, Vizrt’s chief executive, told DN. Vizrt currently has nearly 600 employees working in 40 countries, and more than 3,500 TV channels as its customers.