NCS buys Australian IT company The Dialog Group for $325 million

09 March 2022 Consultancy.com.au 3 min. read
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Australia’s largest privately-owned IT consultancy The Dialog Group has been sold to Singtel’s digital services subsidiary NCS, the deal tripling NCS’s Australian headcount.

Singaporean technology services firm NCS has acquired The Dialog Group for a sum of $325 million, the Singtel subsidiary’s largest ever purchase.

The move forms part of NCS’s ‘regionalisation’ strategy for APAC and follows on from last year’s acquisitions of local cloud specialists Eighty20 Solutions and Riley, with Dialog’s 1,000-plus headcount providing a three-fold boost to NCS’s Australian workforce.

NCS buys Australian IT company The Dialog Group for $325 million

“This acquisition is a significant step in the regionalisation of NCS and leverages our combined strengths and established track records and reputations across both Singapore and Australia,” said Ng Kuo Pin, who was appointed as the CEO of NCS in 2019 after spending more than two decades at Accenture. “The scale of this acquisition reflects our firm commitment to growing our business beyond the shores of Singapore, particularly in Australia.”

In operation for more than forty years, Dialog is said to be Australia’s largest privately-owned IT services company, with a presence in every mainland capital including Brisbane, where the company was first established as a specialist mining IT consultancy in 1979 by current CEO Alan Key. Today, the company serves clients across a range of sectors, including healthcare, financial services, government, education, and manufacturing among others.

“Together, we will have a strong breadth and depth of capabilities and expertise for our clients here in Australia. Both NCS and Dialog’s talent development cultures and programmes will develop the best talent pipeline and create exciting jobs and growth opportunities,” said Key, one of the company’s two shareholders alongside current executive director Bob Tisdall, whose IT services company merged with Dialog in 1987.

Speaking with the AFR, Key, who will continue in his CEO role for the time being while Tisdall enters retirement, said that while the decision to sell was a difficult one, the pair had to consider the continuation of the business after their departures. “We haven’t been aggressively looking for acquirers, but we have had many approaches over the years, particularly over the last several years,” Key told the business and finance publication.

For NCS, the acquisition is aimed at strengthening its end-to-end suite of tech and digital services in line with its focus on innovation, cloud, artificial intelligence and data analytics, with Dialog’s network of government clients a further motivating factor.

The group’s handful of specialist brands, covering areas such as assurance and testing, data management, and customer experience and design, also count Qantas, SAP, Rio Tinto, Telstra, and Virgin among their impressive roll-call of clients.

NCS also stated that the purchase would provide for greater synergies between its Singapore and Australian businesses and talent streams, and forms part of NCS’s growth strategy which has ramped up in Australia since the end of 2020, with three acquisitions made since then. Ng noted that the latest was expected to close within a few months, and would unlikely be the firm’s last in the country, with NCS on the lookout for further “like-minded” companies.