Oakley Capital, a pan-European private equity investor, said on 11 June that Oakley Capital Fund V has been granted exclusivity with a view to acquiring a co-controlling stake alongside Eurazeo in I-TRACING, an independent provider of cyber security services in France.

The transaction is subject to consultation with I-TRACING’s employee representative bodies as well as regulatory clearances.

Founded in Paris in 2005, I-TRACING is the leading, pure play, French managed cybersecurity services provider (MSSP), working with blue-chip companies in the enterprise and midmarket sectors. I-TRACING offers clients a one-stop-shop service including CyberDefence, Managed Detection & Response services, Identity & Access Management, Cloud Security and Data protection and Audit.

One of the company’s key differentiators is its premium Security Operations Centre (SOC) managed services offering, protecting complex environments on a 24/7 basis, leveraging an integrated international “follow-the-sun” operating model.

I-TRACING has expanded globally over the last decade to meet the needs of its customers’ own internationalisation and today the Company employs around 700 cybersecurity experts across France, Canada, Hong Kong, Malaysia, China, Switzerland and the UK.

I-TRACING has more than doubled in size over the last three years, driven by organic revenue growth of c.30% per annum supplemented by acquisitions. The company has benefitted from growing demand for mission-critical cybersecurity services driven by the increased complexity of IT architecture, the rapidly growing volume and sophistication of cyber threats and the ongoing shortage of cyber talent which is driving greater levels of outsourcing. All of these are long term trends which are expected to continue driving strong growth in the years ahead.

Oakley said the investment in I-TRACING continues its strategy of backing exceptional founders with a proven track record of creating successful businesses.

Oakley will work alongside I-TRACING’s founders and management, in partnership with existing anchor investor Eurazeo, as well as Sagard NewGen reinvesting as a minority investor. All stakeholders will work jointly to help drive the next stage of the Company’s growth and realise its ambitions to become a European champion in cybersecurity services. I-TRACING will capitalise on its leading market position to grow its blue-chip client base, pursue further M&A opportunities, while also continuing to attract the best talent as the employer of choice in cybersecurity with 250 new hires planned for 2024.

This will be Oakley’s third investment in France after higher education platform ACE Education, and ProductLife Group, a provider of regulatory and compliance services to the global life sciences industry. It will also be Oakley’s fifth deal in five months, extending a period of significant deal activity for the firm.

Oakley Capital founder and managing partner Peter Dubens said: “I-TRACING is a business we have followed for many years. We are pleased to now have this opportunity to partner with Théodore and his fellow co-founders on the next phase in the company's history. The attractive drivers of growth in this market are structural and long term and we believe I-TRACING will continue to prosper as the partner of choice for blue chip companies across Europe, leveraging its strong reputation and unrivalled technical capability.”

I-TRACING co-founder and president Théodore Vrangos said: “We believe that there is significant untapped potential for further organic and external growth to create a leading MSSP in Europe. The combination of Oakley Capital and Eurazeo as investors with significant complementarity and alignment would enable us to accelerate our international growth journey, while ensuring we can sustain our values, the quality of our expertise and the commitment to our clients while preserving an attractive environment for our talented teams.”