Nova Analytics Sale to ITT Provides “Very Good” Outcome for Battery Ventures

The private equity operation of Boston-based Battery Ventures helped buy out Nova Analytics, a Woburn, MA-based maker of lab and field equipment for electrochemical measurements, in 2003. Seven years later, after a string of strategic acquisitions that helped to consolidate the analytic instruments market, Battery has sold Nova to White Plains, NY-based ITT, which says the acquisition will give it one of the world’s largest selections of sensors and instruments for monitoring wastewater and other substances. The financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but Battery spokeswoman Karen Bommart says “this will be a very good outcome for us.”

Almost immediately after investing in Nova, along with Ascent Venture Partners and Commonwealth Capital Ventures, Battery sent the company on a buying spree, starting with the acquisition of Corning Life Sciences’ electrochemistry product line in 2003. Eight more acquisitions followed over the next six years; in many cases, the management team installed by Battery went after companies with “stable businesses but inefficient operations,” according to a case study on Battery’s website.

“This follows a typical platform strategy from our private equity team: buy a platform company in a market ripe for consolidation, work with a strong management team to acquire complementary and recognized companies within the market, and ultimately build a company of scale that meets broad customer needs,” says Bommart.

Nova has 725 employees in the U.S. and five other countries and earned pro forma revenues of $135 million in 2009. In a statement, Nova chairman and CEO Jim Barbookles called ITT “the perfect acquirer” for Nova, since it is is already has strong analytic instrument brands in the water, wastewater, food, beverage, and industrial process markets.

The Nova sale marks the second time this year that Battery has liquidated one of its major investments. Lawson Software (NASDAQ: LWSN) in St. Paul, MN, bought Battery portfolio company Healthvision Solutions last month for $160 million.

Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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