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Goldman Sachs, KKR invest $360 million in Portugal tech firm

A sign is displayed in the reception of Goldman Sachs in Sydney, Australia, May 18, 2016. REUTERS/David Gray/File Photo

By Axel Bugge

LISBON (Reuters) - Portugal's OutSystems, a platform which allows users to build software applications with minimal coding, has raised $360 million from Goldman Sachs and U.S. investment firm KKR, valuing it at more than $1 billion and allowing it to beef up its leading position in this niche market.

Goldman and KKR took a minority stake in OutSystems with the financing, which will allow the company to expand in key markets in the U.S., Britain, Germany, Japan and elsewhere, it said.

The operation makes OutSystems the second Portuguese technology company to be valued above $1 billion, a big boost for Lisbon's ambitions to become a tech hub. The other is Farfetch, an online luxury clothing retailer which is considering an initial public offering.

OutSystems' Chief Executive Paulo Rosado said the funding would allow the company to take advantage of rapid growth opportunities and maintain its leading position in the market.

"We're seeing tremendous growth basically everywhere around the globe," Rosado told Reuters. "In general this funding, together with the financial situation of the company, allows us to support all the growth in all the regions."

OutSystems runs a platform allowing software developers to build web and mobile applications without traditional coding. It has corporate customers in more than 50 countries and revenues of more than $100 million.

Rosado said demand for OutSystems' products is growing rapidly as businesses go through digital transformation and need software solutions that can be developed and delivered quickly.

Stephen Shanley, director at KKR, said this was the biggest investment in his company's growth equity fund because OutSystems has a "group of attributes that we rarely see together," including fast revenue growth, an efficient business model and global reach.

"This is a true platform, there aren't many businesses that you look at and say, 'this could be a 5-10 billion dollar plus company'," Shanley said, adding that the investment is long-term and not intended as a “quick flip."

Asked about the company's long-term plans, Rosado said OutSystem was not thinking of an initial public offering now, adding though that "it's not off the table," for the future.

OutSystems will expand its workforce to about 1,000 by the end of 2018 from around 700 currently, half of whom are in Portugal.

(Reporting by Axel Bugge; editing by Andrei Khalip and Alexandra Hudson)