THE families of the founders of an Edinburgh risk management specialist have shared windfalls totalling £20 million after the business was sold to an American credit ratings agency.

Moody's has acquired Barrie & Hibbert for £50m to add its tools to the range of software products it sells to firms in industries like pensions and insurance.

The sale provided a bumper return on the risk the firm's founders John Hibbert and Andrew Barrie took when they left jobs in the investment business to set up their own company in 1995.

Goldman Sachs the US investment bank, will collect around £12.5m for the stake it acquired in exchange for what is believed to have been a seven-figure investment in 2006.

Around 50 staff shareholders in Barrie & Hibbert will get payouts averaging about £333,000 each.

Some people will be saddened that control of another Scottish firm has moved overseas.

But others will welcome the sale as providing confirmation that Scotland is capable of producing global leaders in their fields.

Andy Frep, chief executive of Barrie & Hibbert, said while the company had kept a low public profile, it had managed to win an international following for the products it developed.

These include a complex scenario generator which can help firms like pension houses take a host of variables into account when setting their investment and payment policies.

"Everyone talks about having a unique position ... We have managed to create that in a niche that is big enough for us to be really successful," Mr Frepp told The Herald.

Barrie & Hibbert has achieved rapid growth since launching an expansion drive to capitalise on opportunities overseas.

The market for risk management products has increased significantly in recent years as providers have grappled with the turmoil in global markets and regulatory changes.

Since 2007 Barrie & Hibbert has opened offices in London, the US and Hong Kong. Employee numbers have increased from around 30 in 2008 to 110 currently.

The company should generate £14.5m revenue this year, around 75% from overseas.

Asked why the company was sold, Mr Frep said: "We took the decision that the right way to expand our IP (intellectual property) into bigger markets and further sectors was by partnering with someone with distribution."

Moody's said: "The acquisition broadens Moody's Analytics suite of software solutions for the insurance and pension sectors.

"With more than 150 customers around the world, Barrie & Hibbert's Economic Scenario Generator is widely recognised as an industry standard for valuing and projecting assets and liabilities and assessing risk and capital positions."

Mr Frep said the business will continue to be run from Edinburgh. There will be no redundancies as a result of the deal.

A specialist in computer modelling, Mr Hibbert will continue to advise on technology issues.

After working as a fund manager Mr Barrie specialised in derivatives. Both worked at Wood Mackenzie when the Edinburgh-based energy specialist was a stockbroking business.