PwC has spun out its proprietary intelligent data capture technology to create a new independent business LIKEZERO in a management buy-out backed by Souter Investments, the private equity focussed family investment office and Manfield Partners Limited.
LIKEZERO is a provider of proven, next-generation intelligent data capture technology for the financial services industry which gives institutions deeper, more effective insight into their counterparty risk profile.
The Company’s technology helps banks, financial institutions and other regulated businesses analyse and extract insight and data from within their client contracts, enabling and enhancing their risk management and contract governance, transformation and remediation activities. LIKEZERO enables the automated capture of complex data and then uses proprietary next generation data mining and matching techniques to provide a scalable process for any document type, which operates more quickly and with reduced need for human review.
Established in 2016, LIKEZERO, grew rapidly within PwC under the leadership of Michael Lines, now the Company’s chief executive, under the name of eBAM. LIKEZERO now counts some of the world’s largest financial institutions among its blue-chip client base and will continue to supply its technology to the PwC global network and its other partners. The Company has also established strategic partnerships with market leading data processing players such as AcadiaSoft and IHS Markit.
Michael Lines, Chief Executive of LIKEZERO, said: “This is a hugely exciting moment for our business. In today’s highly complex, unpredictable and regulated world, the ability for financial institutions to understand and manage their counterparty risk has become a critical function. Events such as Brexit, the cessation of Libor and the implementation of new regulations such as the new margin rules for uncleared over-the-counter derivatives, or indeed the impact of a global pandemic, all make the assessment of risk increasingly challenging. I’m convinced that our proprietary software and expertise is the best in the market and there lies the opportunity for us.
“I would like to thank PwC for all their support and investment over the last four years and look forward to working closely with the team at Souter Investments, PwC and all our partners and clients to deliver on our and their ambitions.”
John Berthinussen, Investment Director at Souter Investments said: “When speaking to LIKEZERO’s partners and clients we have consistently heard that the Company presents a strong combination of proven technology supported by an experienced team of innovative, entrepreneurial and highly skilled professionals who understand the challenges facing the world’s financial institutions. It is clear to us that LIKEZERO has a compelling and scalable proposition which serves the growing need for financial institutions to better understand and manage their critical risks. We are excited to be working with Mike and his team to accelerate LIKEZERO’s growth.”
PwC is selling the business amid greater regulatory scrutiny on conflicts of interest. PwC is not allowed to sell its own technology to their audit clients as per restrictions introduced by the Financial Reporting Council. In 2016, the FRC restricted Big Four firms from providing audit clients with financial technology as part of an effort to reduce conflicts of interest within the audit sector.
In December 2019, the FRC introduced further measures banning auditing firms from providing advisory services including remuneration and tax advice to certain clients. The move was intended to strengthen auditor independence after a series of scandals including the collapse of Carillion and British Home Stores.
Chris Biggs, Partner at Theta Global Advisors, said: “This announcement is another move by a Big Four firm to realign its business model with the FRC regulations to prevent a conflict of interest with its auditing clients. The global pandemic has shone a light on the practices of the Big Four and their interests in the auditing and non-auditing space. Now, they are beginning to sell-off businesses that could be deemed to go against regulations and this is unlikely to be the final announcement in the space.”