25.09.20

Boxlight buys Sahara Presentation Systems

Kevin Batley and Nigel Batley
L-R: Kevin Batley and Nigel Batley

Boxlight Corporation, a provider of interactive technology for the education market, has announced it has acquired Sahara Presentation Systems, a distributor and manufacturer of AV products. Boxlight in a NASDAQ listed company and was formed in 1985, and bought Mimio, a manufacturer of touchscreens and interactive whiteboards in 2016.

Speaking with Inavate, Kevin Batley, director at Sahara, explained the reasons behind the deal: "About three years ago we recognised there were several dynamics happening.  We were growing very quickly at that point, and we were able to finance growth because we've always left money in the business. So financially, the company's been reasonably strong. However, the downside of that is that personally, of course, as a result, we're (Kevin and his co-founder brother NIgel Batley) not taking money out. You do get to a point in your life when you think I can't do this forever. At the same time, because the demands on the company now are to grow and invest, the need to be acquired has never been greater. So there's an impasse there, and really it's pointing inone direction, which is ultimately if we're going to give the company the best possible chance it needs to go to another home that can raise the kind of monies that are going to keep this business or the brands, where they need to be."

Batley confirmed he and his brother won't be involved in the day to day running, "But we've got a very good management team now that perfectly capable of taking this business to the next stage."

Batley added that Boxlight had originally approached Sahara about a possible deal five years ago, "At that point it wasn't a listed company, and it was a lot smaller so for them to raise the money would not be realistic. So we parked it."

Batley confirmed to Inavate the company had also been in early stage discussions with several private equity companies in the last three years about a deal, including one deal which came very close to completion, but was stopped late on becuase the buyer had to access emergency funds in other parts of their business due to the Covid pandemic. 

"The CEO from Boxlight dropped me a line to say we're now on the NASDAQ and we've raised some money so we'd love to talk to you guys again. We only started the conversation once we came out of the exclusivity period with private equity and we did the deal in four weeks, which is fantastic time."

Explaining what made this deal so attractive, he said, "The beauty of this deal is that Boxlight is primarily a US-based company, the vast majority of their revenue is being generated in America. Whilst we have a presence in the US, we have three main customers, it's not big, whereas in Europe if you look at the Futuresource numbers, we have roughly 9% of the market with Clevertouch, and we have our own operations in Germany, Holland, Sweden, Finland, with a view of expanding that into other North European territories."

Batley confirmed the Sahara, Clevertouch and Sedeo brands will remain, as will all Sahara staff in their Dartford, UK HQ.