Sphere buys stake in software company

Black economic empowerment specialist Sphere has bought a 35.8 percent stake in software company Barone, Budge and Dominick. The software company had been looking for a business partner committed to the South African governmental programme designed to promote racial equality.

The black-owned and black-managed South African buyout firm Sphere Private Equity has bought a 35.8 percent stake in Johannesburg-based software development company Barone, Budge & Dominick for an undisclosed sum.

Sphere acquired its stake in Barone, Budge and Dominick from retiring director Tom Budge and from Data Communication Information Services. Three members of Sphere will join the company’s board: chief executive Itumeleng Kgaboesele, Marang Denalane and Aadil Carim.

Sphere has simultaneously stored 10 percent of Barone Budge & Dominick’s share capital for a staff trust.

Ralf Dominick, a Barone, Budge & Dominick director, and one of the company’s founders in 1985, said: “Over the past four years, we have examined and rejected nine black economic empowerment proposals which did not meet our requirements,”

Black economic empowerment is a programme launched by the South African government to redress the inequalities of Apartheid by giving previously disadvantaged groups such as black Africans and Indians economic opportunities previously not available to them.

Barone, Budge & Dominick has developed software for both domestic and international companies for more than 20 years.

Sphere said in a statement there will be no change in Barone, Budge & Dominick’s management or operations and there will be no dilution of the remaining shareholding in the company held mainly by directors and staff.
Sphere Private Equity closed its debut private equity fund, Sphere Fund I on R300 million ($40 million; €32 million) in November 2006.

Sphere is a joint venture with Ethos Private Equity, which recently closed a record R5.5 billion fund. Ethos holds 30 percent of the business; the remainder is owned by Sphere’s management.