Andrew Brode, Chairman at RWS, has been named ‘Entrepreneur of the Year 2019’ by Broadwalk Asset Management for his achievements.
In 1995 Mr Brode acquired RWS, a professional translations business from the founding family with minority equity from 3i. He held a 75% shareholding and in 2003 listed RWS on AIM and currently owns a 32.8% stake. Under Mr Brode’s guidance, RWS grew to become a global leader in intellectual property support services and localisation and a major player in life sciences.
In November 2017 Mr Brode led RWS’s largest acquisition of Czech based Moravia for $320m, a leading provider of technology enabled localisation services, with operations in USA, Japan, China, Argentina, Hungary and Ireland and a client base that included the large US technology firms. The Moravia acquisition contributed 25% of 2018 profits as its margins rose from 9.3% to 19.3%. For the year ended September 2019, RWS Moravia contributed 42% to Group revenues having generated record sales of £150m with growth of 18% over the previous year. The division posted adjusted operating profit of £26m with record growth of 52%, contributing 33% to Group profits.
The Group as a whole also saw record performances across all three main divisions. Revenues grew 16% to £356m and adjusted operating profit grew 18% to £78m. Net debt fell by 43% to £37m and net debt to EBITDA stood at less than 0.5x at year end, underscoring the cash generative business model.
RWS continues to focus on international expansion and profitable growth by combining organic growth, selective acquisitions and cross selling opportunities from enhanced service offerings. The share price on a total return basis is up 2800% since the 2003 float, given a stunning annualised return over 16 years of 23.4%. Mr Brode is also Chairman of £760m market cap Learning Technologies Group.
Broadwalk, a London based fund focused on the business services sectors, instituted the awards for outstanding achievements in the broadly defined “Business Services” area.
This year the awards’ Advisory Panel of judges was made up of directors of UBS, Lazard, Barclays and Rothschild.