January 28, 2019

Descartes pays $250 million for denied party screening software vendor

Buying Visual Compliance will help clients keep up with shifting tariffs and trade agreements, Descartes says.

By DC Velocity Staff

Canadian logistics software provider Descartes Systems Group Inc. will pay $250 million to acquire Visual Compliance, a vendor of software for denied party screening in global trade, saying the move would help its clients navigate a world of shifting tariffs and trade agreements.

Toronto, Ont.-based Visual Compliance says its software automates customs, trade and fiscal compliance processes, with a focus on denied and restricted party screening processes and export licensing. The firm, with 2017 revenues of $30 million, consists of a group of companies operating under the names "Visual Compliance," "eCustoms" and "MSR," all operated by Management Systems Resources Inc.

By collaborating with Visual Compliance, Waterloo, Ont.-based Descartes says it will enhance its ability to provide data, content and solutions to customers and partners—like SAP and Oracle—to enable comprehensive global trade compliance reviews to be completed.

Those services are critical for maintaining compliance with the denied and restricted party screening laws that compare people, goods, services and/or commodities against comprehensive lists published by governments and international organizations identifying people, organizations and countries with whom it is illegal or restricted to transact business, Descartes says. In the international trade context, compliance with these sanction lists is actively enforced by governments around the world, with consequences including large fines, revocation of export privileges and/or criminal prosecution.

"Trade compliance is a critical issue for our Global Logistics Network customers and our United by Design partners," Descartes CEO Edward J. Ryan said in a release. "This is especially so in the current environment where trade agreements are being re-negotiated, tariffs and duties are changing at a rapid pace, and sanctions on restricted or denied parties are being increasingly enforced."

Descartes will add Visual Compliance's solutions and domain expertise to its existing Descartes MK Data denied parties screening business and its Global Logistics Network, Descartes' EVP Product Management, Ken Wood, said in a statement.

The acquisition is Descartes' latest move to grow by purchasing a range of technology providers, including 2018 deals to buy PinPoint GPS Solutions Inc., a provider of fleet tracking and mobile workforce solutions; Velocity Mail, a provider of air freight mail and parcel scanning and tracking solutions; and transportation management systems (TMS) provider Aljex Software Inc.

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