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3 April, 2020 - 08:57 By Tony Quested

Bango nets almost £10m from Korean Big Data powerhouse

South Korean Big Data business NHN Corp is investing almost £10 million in  Cambridge UK mobile payments technology specialist Bango to strengthen the companies’ global partnership.

NHN is taking a 4.7 per cent strategic stake in Bango for £3.2m and making an additional £6.5m investment into Bango’s Audiens business; this latter deal will give NHN a 60 per cent stake in the subsidiary.

The vision is for Audiens to become a global data leader through a technologically sophisticated but easy-to-use Customer Data Platform (CDP), which enables brands of all sizes to plan, execute and analyse their online marketing activities. 

This expands an initial relationship between Bango and NHN, announced last October, which enabled app developers and marketers to access anonymised audiences of high value mobile and internet users in South Korea. 

What began as a further licensing deal has evolved into this strategic partnership and investment agreement.

The strategy for NHN and Bango is to continue to develop the Audiens CDP product – which is optimised towards quick data onboarding and self-service by marketers – and incorporate advanced capabilities from the established, deep data technology developed by NHN into the Audiens product.

The £6.5m investment, together with the technology expertise brought by NHN, will enable the existing Audiens business to accelerate its growth as it addresses a larger global market opportunity. 

As well as enriching the Audiens CDP product, this investment gives NHN data technology a new channel to reach global customers beyond South Korea and enables Audiens to bring new products to market more quickly.

Jonathan ‘Jonno’ Brech, previously CCO at Audiens, has been appointed CEO to lead the expanded business along with Marko Maras, founder of Audiens, who will head-up product strategy and innovation. 

Jonno was previously CEO at Cambridge Data, which advised major organisations developing world-class data driven capabilities. He was interim head of digital at KFC UK & Ireland. 

The business will continue to operate from Italy (Milan) and UK (Cambridge), with a new Audiens R & D presence in Seoul. After the investment by NHN, the board of Bango Deep will include Ray Anderson, executive chair at Bango, and JS Lee, Director of NHN.

For the year ended December 31, Audiens’ profit before tax (including inter-company transactions) was €0.45m and it had net assets of €0.64m. 

As part of the transaction, Bango has capitalised into Bango Deep equity approximately £6.5m of inter-company loans from Bango to Bango Deep (which includes the purchase consideration for the acquisition of 100 per cent of Audiens) that were on the Bango Deep balance sheet. Completion of the agreement is expected on or around April 15.

Ray Anderson, executive chair and co-founder at Bango, said: “This is one of the most exciting milestones in the history of Bango. NHN is a hugely successful data, marketing and payments business based in South Korea, which is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world.
“NHN has a fantastic growth story and a history of first-mover innovation which, coupled with the existing data platform know-how at Audiens, will enable us to create a powerful force for technology leadership in online commerce.”

JS Lee added: “Together we will create a global leader in data technology. The NHN strategy is to partner with global leaders to take our research and technology to the world. 

“We are privileged to enter into this strategic partnership with Bango which has built a unique position at the heart of global mobile commerce for the 21st century.”

The partnership with NHN began last year with the inclusion of NHN data in Bango Marketplace and is now accelerating through this investment in Audiens,according to Bango CEO Paul Larbey. “This deeper relationship underlines the Bango vision of becoming the technology behind every payment choice,” he said.

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