Software queen’ Murria raises £130m as SPAC craze comes to London

·2-min read

A technology entrepreneur who turned a £12m software business into a £750m bonanza for investors is capitalising on surging interest in ‘blank cheque’ companies by raising £130m for a London-listed acquisition vehicle.

Sky News has learnt that Vin Murria, who became chairman of a cash shell called Marwyn Acquisition Company 1 (MAC1) in December, will announce on Thursday that she has raised the funds to pursue an as-yet unidentified takeover in the software industry.

One market source suggested on Wednesday evening it would be the biggest sum raised by what is essentially a cash shell in the London market.

"This is a statement of trust by investors in [Ms Murria's] track record," they said.

An investor who was approached about the equity-raise said the announcement was expected to be accompanied by a series of board changes.

Gavin Hugill, a former colleague of Ms Murria's at Advanced Computer Software, and Karen Chandler, the finance chief of environmental services company, Advetec Group, will join as non-executive directors.

The company will be renamed AdvanceAdvT Limited, according to the investor.

Its £130m cash-pile will give it substantial firepower to pursue a takeover in a sector which has seen a deluge of merger and takeover activity.

Insiders said that Ms Murria was expected to target a privately held company which was ready to become traded on a stock market and did not want to sell to a private equity firm.

One source played down the idea that AdvanceAdvT was a UK version of the Special Purpose Acquisition Companies which have raised tens of billions of dollars on US stock markets in recent months, although investors said the parallels were obvious.

MAC1 was put together by Marwyn, a serial creator of cash shells and orchestrator of takeovers of companies including WeBuyAnyCar-owner BCA Marketplace and Entertainment One, the owner of Peppa Pig.

The newly renamed AdvanceAdvT Is expected to focus on large international takeover opportunities, while Summerway Capital, a separate London-listed vehicle that Ms Murria also recently joined, was more likely to pursue a smaller UK-based target.

Marwyn and Ms Murria enjoyed a hugely successful partnership at ACS, with the entrepreneur overseeing its transformation from a company valued at £12m in 2008 until its eventual sale to Vista Equity Partners for more than 60 times that sum just seven years later.

More recently, she secured a seat on the board of M&C Saatchi, the advertising agency group where she holds a significant personal stake.

A spokesman for MAC1 declined to comment on Wednesday, while Ms Murria could not be reached for comment.