Media & News

Press Release: Ethos exits CQS to JSE-listed Adapt IT

Ethos exits CQS to JSE-listed Adapt IT

27th January 2016

Ethos, a leading South African private equity investor, has announced the sale of its investment in leading, niche technology company, CQS Investment Holdings (CQS) to JSE-listed Adapt IT. This follows the fulfilment of all conditions precedent giving effect to the transaction.

Ethos Technology Fund I acquired CQS in 2008 in a transaction that facilitated the introduction of empowerment partner, Kapela Investments.  Ethos has now sold its entire stake, whilst Kapela and management become holders of shares in Adapt IT.

CQS is a leading South African value-added distributor of software products for the audit, risk management and financial reporting markets. The company has an extensive corporate and government client base in a market that is growing significantly, both in South Africa and the Rest of Africa. It has the reputation of being a leader in these niche markets operating through a direct and a distributor network model.

This latest announcement follows significant investment activity by Ethos over the past 12 months.  Other recent transactions include the acquisitions of:

  • Eaton Towers – a leading pan-African telecom-towers company;
  • Neopak – offers world-class paper-based packaging solutions across South Africa;
  • Twinsaver – a leading South African manufacturer, marketer and distributor of branded tissue products;
  • Autozone – the largest privately owned automotive parts retailer and wholesaler in Southern Africa; and most recently
  • Eazi Access – Africa’s market leader in the rental, sale and servicing of work-at-height solutions, including access platforms, telehandlers and accessories

Notable realisations in 2015 included the disposal of Plumblink to JSE-listed Bidvest mid-year, and the sale of Ethos’ shareholding in JSE-listed Transaction Capital in December.

Commenting on the CQS disposal, Ethos CEO Stuart MacKenzie said:

“Our partnership with CQS is a shining example of Ethos’ ability to cultivate owner-manager businesses.  Over the course of our shareholding, we have worked extensively with Ashley and his team to further corporatise and optimise CQS’s product offering.  Accordingly, it is exceptionally rewarding when the fruits of this labour are realised.  Adapt IT is a natural home for CQS, and this new partnership will unlock significant synergies for both parties. We wish both businesses continued success.”

Ashley Cohen, CEO of CQS said:

“Ethos has been a supportive and stimulating shareholder.  Together, we’ve grown and improved many aspects of the business despite economic challenges.  Beyond capital, financial and strategic expertise, Ethos gave CQS access to their significant business networks. Today, CQS is well-corporatised and ready to take a new step in our journey. 

Ethos Principal, Kameshan Chetty, added:

“CQS is a fantastic strategic acquisition for Adapt IT and we expect that the business will grow strongly under its ownership.”



Ethos Private Equity

Ethos is a leading South African private equity investor.

We were instrumental in establishing the asset class in the region, concluding the: first buyout (1984); first public-to-private deal (1992); first BEE deal (1994); and, first international fund raising (1996). We are currently investing Ethos Fund VI, with R8.4 billion of committed capital.

Our team consists of 26 dedicated investment professionals with over 150 years of private equity experience. Ethos distinguishes itself in the South African market by combining financial discipline with value-enhancing strategies, in partnership with portfolio company management teams.

This approach has resulted in an enviable track record of superior returns over our 31-year history.

We specialise in control and joint-control acquisitions and expansion capital, in medium-to-large businesses in South Africa and selectively in sub-Saharan Africa. To date, we have made 103 investments and successfully exited 90.

Our proven record of understanding businesses and effecting meaningful operational and strategic change has built Ethos’ reputation as a constructive, valued equity partner. Ultimately, we build better businesses.

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With over 20 years in business and approximately 4 000 clients, CQS is a value added distributor of a combination of its own- and third party- (being CaseWare, ACL and Intellectual Property software solutions for audit, data analytics, controls monitoring, risk management and financial reporting to financial professionals, corporates and the public sector. CQS, which has the reputation of being a leader in this niche market, also services clients in Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia, Tanzania, Botswana and Zimbabwe through a direct and a distributor network.

Adapt IT

AdaptITprovidesavarietyofspecialisedIT software solutionsandservicestoeducation,energy,financialservices,resources,manufacturingandpublicsector clients.AdaptIThas over 750 employees and customersin30countriesinAfrica, Asia, Australasia,EuropeandNorthAmerica,anditsservicesandsolutionsspanthecompleteIT life cycle,from consulting and application design and development,through to delivery and support.

For more information, visit