This British Tech Entrepreneur Quietly Built A $1 Billion Fortune By Never Selling A Share

Andrew Brode’s dealmaking in RWS and Learning Technologies helped RWS, and Learning Technologies become AIM stars in London and has earned him $1 billion.

Andrew Brode avoided the spotlight while expanding his empire with acquisitions at RWS Translations and Learning Technologies Group, a workplace training company.

Andrew Brode, a British tech-entrepreneur, has made a fortune worth $1 billion thanks to a series of international acquisitions. Brode is Chairman of Learning Technologies. The company makes training software for doctors and miners. It bought American rival G.P. Strategies for $394million last month.

This serial entrepreneur is also the Chairman of RWS Group. RWS Group was established in 2000 and has since grown into one of the world’s most influential corporate translation agencies with $491m in 2020 revenues. Its growth was achieved through several acquisitions. RWS and Learning Technologies’ dealmaking depart from the American trend of more prominent tech companies taking over British businesses.

Brode has a 16% stake in Learning Technologies worth $336million and his 23% piece of RWS worth $735million. Brode, now 81, claims that he has never sold a single share of either company. RWS stock market value had increased from $71million (PS42m) when it was listed via reverse merger in 2003 to $3.18billion (PS2.28billion). Brode states, “I am known in the City for not having sold a single stock.” “All my mentors know that equity is blood. Don’t sell shares unless you need to.”

Brode started his career in chartered accounting. However, his entrepreneurial career and capital came from being asked to manage Croner Publications (a family publishing business), which he sold to Wolters Kluwer in 1977 for PS2 million. Brode was employed at the Anglo-Dutch publisher for 13 years. He decided to leave the company and buy Eclipse’s legal journal, Eclipse. This purchase was made using PS2 million of Wolters Kluwer seller financing, a PS500,000 loan by Barclays Bank, as well as his savings.

Brode’s native language skills led to a 1995 opportunity to buy U.K. translation agency RWS and U.K. patent file filing. Brode, raised in Germany and learned German through his parents who fled Nazi Germany as refugees, had been recruited by 3i, a private equity firm. He would serve as a director non-executive for a Munich-based portfolio organization. The London-based investors turned to Brode when 3i was approached to acquire Buckinghamshire-based RWS. Brode merged Eclipse, RWS and 3i. He took 75% of the new group.

Brode sold the legal publishing company to Relx (formerly Reed Elsevier) in 2000 for PS43 million. Brode says that he sold a business he bought for PS3 million PS43 million in 2000 and that the dot-com crash happened a month later. “I have always believed that luck and timing are significant in business life. It adds the frosting to the cake.”

RWS became public on London’s AIM in 2003 through a merger and a cash shell. The business was valued at $71million (PS42 million). Brode’s stake of 70% was diluted during the listing. Share issuances were used to fund the $320 million acquisition in 2017 of Moravia, a Czech Republic-based translator agency. In August 2020, SDL machine translation company SDL was acquired in a $1.1billion deal.

Brode is the company’s largest individual shareholder. Brode generated $64million (PS46.4million), in profits, on $473million (PS355.8million), in revenues from translation and filing fees charged to its life sciences clients.

The Learning Technologies Group chairman and largest shareholder, Brode, is known for his similar deal-making streak that has pushed the workplace talent and training firm to a $2.2billion (PS1.6billion) stock market value. Brode purchased a small training firm for $9.3million, or PS4.7 million, in 2008 using proceeds from the sale. In 2013, Brode took the company public with a cash merger at a valuation of $20 million (PS15million). Brode is also chairman of GRC International Group in the U.K., a cybersecurity firm with a stock value of $64million.

Brode has given $6 million (PS5million) to King Edward’s, his old school in Birmingham, and scholarships to Manchester University’s underprivileged language students. But he denies any extravagant displays of wealth. “We don’t spend our money in any kind of flashy way. Brode says, “I don’t own a yacht, I don’t have a second home, and we don’t speculate at any time.” “You might be wondering why I’m still working at 80. However, I enjoy seeing how the businesses that I work with grow and prosper.”

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Adam Collins
Adam writes about technology, business and economics. With master's degree in Economics, he's presented six papers in international conferences. As a solivagant in the constant state of fernweh, curiosity is the main weapon in his arsenal.

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