Barnes may float to fund expansion

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The Independent Online
Barnes Trust Media, a television production and facilities group, is considering a stock market flotation in an effort to raise money for acquisitions.

Simon Bowen, executive chairman and founder of Barnes, said the company was on the brink of appointing an adviser and a flotation was "on the agenda". Barnes came to prominence earlier this year when it bought Teddington Studios off Pearson for pounds 9m. The company said the deal made it the biggest privately owned media facilities group in the UK.

Mr Bowen said yesterday he had his eye on two sizeable acquisitions. Barnes has been tipped as a possible bidder for Tele-Cine Cell, another facilities company which warned in July that persistent problems with its Cell special effects arm would lead to losses in the first half of the year. However, Mr Bowen said the acquisitions being investigated were outside the facilities sector. He added: "If the acquisitions are successful, they may be the trigger to accelerate the flotation notion."

Mr Bowen said the company could be valued on the market at in excess of pounds 25m, but he indicated the acquisitions could double Barnes' size.

Barnes, which is forecasting a turnover of pounds 22m to pounds 25m for the current year, is an umbrella company for a string of organisations. It comprises Teddington Studios; the House, a post-production house which specialises in commercials and pop promotions; Klones, a broadcast dubbing and video duplication unit; and Arena Transmissions, which produces special interest travel, weather and Chinese channels.

Dean Street Post, the group's first acquisition in 1993, merged with the House in June this year.

Teddington, a fulcrum of the film and television industry since the 1920s, was part of Thames Television, for which Pearson paid pounds 100m in 1992. It makes light entertainment programmes such as This is Your Life and Men Behaving Badly.

Mr Bowen said there was no reason why Barnes should not come to the full market. He said such a move was not vital for the company's future, but making a large acquisition was a good commercial reason for floating.

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