Northgate Public Services

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Northgate Public Services
Industryoutsourcing & public sector
software and services.
Area served
based in the United Kingdom.
Key people
Tina Whitley (CEO)
ProductsFormer computer manufacturer
Number of employees

Northgate Public Services (Northgate) (formerly known as Northgate Information Solutions) is a provider of specialist software and outsourcing services for the public sector and is based in the United Kingdom.

In Jan of 2018, Northgate Public Services was acquired by NEC[1] from the private equity firm Cinven

Prior to the NEC acquisition the company had more than 5,300 staff in 35 countries. Following the sale of two business divisions, Northgate has only one division: NGA Human Resources. Specialising in services to the public sector, Northgate Public Services was acquired by Cinven in December 2014. Northgate Managed Services, specialising in managed information technology services to the UK mid-market, was acquired by Capita in February 2013.


Early years[edit]

The company was founded as CMC, or Computer Machinery Company Limited, on 18 September 1969 by Ray Parry. They were originally distributors and subsequently manufacturers of key to disk computer systems made by the US-based Computer Machinery Corporation. The CMC key to disk systems were used by companies and government departments for data capture. In 1976, CMC developed a bit-slice based intelligent terminal—the P99—which it used both as a front end processor to the key to disk systems and as a terminal in its own right. It then evolved the CMC P99 into the P141—a true front-end processor, which it used to implement a new data capture system call Sovereign. This was used in manufacturing companies such as Rolls-Royce plc, British Steel Corporation and various government departments including providing data capture for the DHSS at Newcastle upon Tyne. It later evolved into the M8000 system, based on Intel-processor-based systems.[2]

In 1976, CMC merged with Microdata Corporation, a California-based computer company, whose 1973-released Reality operating and database environment product CMC was also distributing. The companies continued to use separate trading names in their respective regions until 1981. The Reality name was given to Microdata's computer system and the operating system—a version of the Pick operating system. At the time, Microdata owned rights to the Pick Operating system in parallel with Dick Pick – who had developed it with Microdata. CMC Leasing Limited (the official trading name) then changed its name to Microdata UK limited, aka MUK. The company then started UK manufacture of the Reality range of computer systems in its manufacturing factory in Maxted Road, Hemel Hempstead. Microdata was purchased by McDonnell Douglas Corporation in 1985 and the company was re-branded as McDonnell Douglas Information Systems Limited (MDIS).[2]

The company introduced the M9000 (called Sequoia in U.S.) which offered dynamic performance using soft loaded firmware and processor performance keys using the same hardware components to minimise sparing and maximise cost effectiveness, (although 1Mb memory sold for 25,000 GBP in those days). A new manufacturing and office complex was built in Boundary Way, Hemel Hempstead. Work started virtually as soon as the building opened to double its size, so they became known as 'Phase 1 and 2' internally but 'Maylands Park' externally. The company then produced the UK designed Spirit processor which was launched as a lower-end Reality product as the M6000. Later the company developed the Series 19 (aka Pegasus) successor to the Sequoia using a worldwide development team spanning the two engineering facilities in Hemel Hempstead, UK and Irvine, California.[2]

In 1989, the second new building, known as Marylands Park South, was completed at Boundary Way to accommodate the thousand staff then at the head office location. At the time, the company was thought to have one of the largest company car fleets in the UK (Hertz).[citation needed]


1992 was the last year MDIS made a computer system from scratch, which meant the end of UK manufacturing for the company. It continued its hardware and systems integration work at Maylands Park North. It could do this because it had produced RealityX, an open platform Reality environment (internally known for a time as CORA). This was the result of several years of development taking the Reality operating system (ROS) and re-engineering into a Unix application capable of running on non-MDIS computers. RealityX provided not only end user/application compatibility but also provided it at the developer assembler level. The same source code was used for RealityX and the original Reality implementations. RealityX allowed the Reality operating environment and applications developed for Reality to continue to be sold and maintained under the SeriesX name.

Initially MDIS used UNIX systems from Encore Computer, then from Motorola Computer Systems and Data General—all using M88k RISC processors and Unix System V. Later they moved to run on Solaris-based systems from Sun Microsystems. The open approach eventually led to a Microsoft Windows platform in 1995 and continued feature enhancements that are still being developed as of 2007. As a corollary to this operating environment, MDIS acquired and developed its PROIV fourth generation language (4GL), which was used worldwide by companies including Fujitsu. A variant was implemented on REALITY called ALL (Application Language Liberator).

In 1993, a management buyout occurred. 29 Senior Managers and Directors of the company, under the leadership of Jerry Causley CEO, and through Barings Bank, purchased the company from McDonnell Douglas.

In 1994, the company was floated on the London Stock Exchange under the MDIS banner. Shares were sold, at the flotation, for 260p each. Within two months the shares were worth less than 100p.

Through the latter part of the 1990s, most of the original directors and senior managers left the company, to be replaced by a new management group. The new CEO, John Klien, took the reins after the company issued yet another profit warning to the stock exchange. The company's key application products (Human Resources) were re-implemented in PRO-IV to improve product availability and functionality.

In 1998, the Maylands Park South Building was sold to 3Com. This complex had accommodated about 600 staff, who were either re-located to the other Maylands Park building or, with others in the group, made redundant.

In 1999, Chris Stone was appointed as CEO. At this time the company was losing about £100m per year and several years of downsizing and rationalisation followed. The company re-focused on its core, local Government and Public Sector (police, fire, and ambulance) markets and application products (Payroll, Pensions and HR systems). Services such as hardware maintenance and managed services were also offered.


In 2000, the company was rebranded to shed the old loss making image, and the company changed its name to Northgate Information Solutions. This was actually the name of a small software house which the old MDIS company purchased years earlier. Through "re-focusing", and the loss of about two-thirds of the original MDIS staff, the business finally regained profitability in 2001. Through the sale of the Health business unit, the company raised capital for acquisitions.

In 2002, Northgate acquired Prolog, payroll outsourcing & solutions. In 2003, To expand core business and to gain access to a wider range of clients, the company acquired CaraPeople, (payroll outsourcing), blue8, (location and citizen centric IT systems for emergency services), Hays CSG, (data management information systems (police) and consulting), PWA Group, (HR applications).

In 2004 the company acquired Rebus (previously Peterborough Software), one of its main competitors (HR Group, which provides HR and payroll solutions), and CIM Systems (communication technologies for control room environments). As a result of its larger capitalisation, it became listed on the London Stock Exchange FTSE 250 Index.

in 2005 Sx3 and MVM Holdings were acquired, however a number of the old Northgate staff now felt that they were working for Sx3, due to the integration of their senior managers.

In June 2007, Northgate bought ARINSO to create NorthgateArinso (NGA) [1]. NorthgateArinso went on to become a global leader in HR services and in 2011 and 2012 was acknowledged as a leader in HR and Payroll Outsourcing by industry analysts such as Gartner, IDC and Everest Research.

Private-equity giant Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, (KKR) acquired Northgate in November 2007, for £593m. Northgate chairman at the time, Ron Mackintosh said the offer from KKR was good value and he predicted a bright future for the firm under private-equity ownership.

In November 2008, Northgate Information Solutions UK Ltd acquired Anite Public Sector Holdings Ltd from Anite plc. Convergys sold its Human Resources Management line of business to NorthgateArinso in 2010.

Northgate Managed Services, specialising in Managed IT Services to the UK mid-market, was acquired by Capita in February 2013.

Northgate Public Services was acquired by Cinven in December 2014.

In 2017, NGA HR (Payroll Service Organization From Northgate Information Solutions) announced that it has sold its UK Mid-Market and UK SME sections to Bain Capital to focus on the growing demand from enterprise businesses for multi country HR and payroll solutions able to support a diverse workforce in the digital economy. [3]

It was announced in January 2018 that following Bain Capital's acquisition of NGA HR's UK & Ireland division, they would rebrand as a separate company providing payroll solutions under the new name Zellis.[4]

The company acquired APD Communications, a software supplier to the emergency services, public safety and control room markets in January 2019[5] and the specialist and care division EMIS Health in April 2019.[6]

On August 22, 2019 it was announced that Alight Solutions will acquire NGA Human Resources.[7]

Tina Whitley was appointed as new CEO on April 1, 2021.[8]

Hertfordshire Oil Storage Terminal fire[edit]

On Sunday, 11 December 2005, a major explosion and fire at the Buncefield oil depot immediately adjacent to the NIS building, effectively destroyed the Hemel Hempstead Head office complex. The two managed services staff manning the Data Centre escaped unharmed. Other Hemel Hempstead based staff were told to report to offices in Oxford and Peterborough the following week. The share price dipped on the first trading day afterwards, but recovered by lunchtime. The company had a well-practised disaster recovery programme, and the company moved its Managed Services customer system backups (which were stored off-site) to run on systems based at a site in Hounslow, where a number of Northgate staff ran these during the next few months. This included a full managed network for hospitals in East Anglia. Despite this taking place in December, when payrolls are usually run earlier than normal, every payroll for all Northgate's customers was run on time. The company became known as one that had successfully passed through a major physical disaster, and CEO Chris Stone was invited to speak at various venues on commercial disaster recovery.

In October 2006, the share price fluctuated, and the company announced that they were subject to an unsolicited takeover approach.[9] It has since been announced that this has amounted to nothing.[citation needed]

In December 2007, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts agreed to buy the company for £593 million.[10]

In March 2008, Northgate Information Systems plc was de-listed from the London Stock Exchange following completion of the purchase by KKR.[11] The next month, Northgate achieved a position of forty-seventh out of one hundred in 'Britain's Top Employer 2008'.[12]

Northgate Public Services was acquired by Cinven in December 2014. Northgate Managed Services, specialising in Managed IT Services to the UK mid-market, was acquired by Capita in February 2013.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Business, Wire. "NEC Acquires UK-based IT Services Company Northgate Public Services". Business Wire.
  2. ^ a b c Elleray, Dick (16 July 1986). "The Reality Operating System Revealed (1986/09)". Project Management Bulletin (paper original) |format= requires |url= (help). Project Management Group, McDonnell Douglas Information Systems Group.
  3. ^ "Blog".
  4. ^ Grapevine, H. R. "Zellis becomes the new name for NGA Human Resources UK & Ireland". Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  5. ^ "NORTHGATE PUBLIC SERVICES ACQUIRES APD COMMUNICATIONS". LandMobile. 9 January 2019. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  6. ^ "The Aim 100 2019: 30 to 21". Investors Chronicle. 9 May 2019. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  7. ^ Alight Solutions acquires NGA Human Resources, ‘’Chicago Daily Herald’’, 22 August 2019
  8. ^ Crowd, The Influence. "Northgate Public Services announces new CEO Tina Whitley". Issuewire. Retrieved 1 April 2021.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 14 July 2011. Retrieved 15 September 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ Wray, Richard (21 December 2007). "KKR to buy Northgate for £593m". Guardian Unlimited. London. Retrieved 13 January 2008.
  11. ^ "Northgate Information Solutions Acquired by KKR". Reuters Business Wire. 11 March 2008. Archived from the original on 17 October 2009. Retrieved 28 April 2008.
  12. ^ "Top Employer 2008" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 July 2008.

External links[edit]