Canva has a new $500 million shareholder – a Sydney private equity firm that previously made a fortune from pet food

- May 3, 2024 2 MIN READ
Canva cofounders Cliff Obrecht, Melanie Perkins and Cameron Adams.
Canva cofounders Cliff Obrecht, Melanie Perkins and Cameron Adams.
Sydney investment firm Quadrant Private Equity is now a Canva shareholder after acquiring a hefty $500 million slice of the design giant, including more than $100 million worth of shares from VC fund Blackbird.

That represents about 1.2% of the company’s stock. The deal comes after $2.4 billion worth of Canva shares changed hands earlier this year amid $3.6 billion in demand, as tech company prepares to list publicly in 2026. The acquisition was made at Canva’s current US$25 billion (A$39bn) valuation – a figure local VCs arrived at in mid-2022.

It’s a record single investment for Quadrant, which previously specialised in buy outs, having previously spent $410 million in May 2015 to acquire Queensland’s VIP Pet Foods. The business was rebranded as The Real Pet Food Company, and sold 2.5 years later for $1 billion, having growth its revenue by around 67% in that time.

Other Quadrant deals include the Fitness First gym chain, media monitoring business iSentia, boiling water brand Zip, furniture retailer Super A-Mart and Barbeques Galore, and cancer care provider Icon Group, which was sold for $1 billion.

Quadrant does have a track record in startups, including the online retailer Adore Beauty, founded by Kate Morris, and Kristy Chong’s Modibodi, which the private equity firm took a stake in in 2019 and was acquired by a Swedish company in 2022 for $140 million. They also owned and sold the Canberra Data Centres in 2016 for $800 million.

Quadrant also gobbled up Neil Perry’s Rockpool group in 2016. Rebranded as Hunter St. Hospitality in 2021 as a group of high end restaurants, with the casual dining alternatives put into a separate company, Pacific Concepts, plans for an IPO by 2020 never came to fruition.

The Canva deal, the first investment by the Quadrant Strategic Equity Fund, its ninth fund, would represent a large slice of its $600 million value, but other funds – the PE firm currently has three private equity and two growth funds live – reportedly also had buy-in.

QSEF takes minority stakes in high growth businesses, with a cheque size of $30-150 million alongside additional funding from co-investors.

Quadrant did not respond to Startup Daily’s request for comment on its Canva acquisition. Blackbird declined to comment. The original negotiation was reportedly worth $100 million.

Blackbird backed Canva across eight investments, kicking off with a $250,000 cheque in 2013.

The VC became Canva’s largest external shareholder, building up to a 15% stake on a total investment north of $150 million. That holding was worth around $5 billion when it sold $150 million worth of shares last year – 3% of its total.

Blackbird was also in the mix of the latest secondary market sale with 6% of Canva shares finding new homes. It still holds around 12% of Canva’s total stock, worth around $4 billion.


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