Biotech entrepreneur set for one more float

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The Independent Online
Chris Evans, the biotech entrepreneur with a string of start-ups to his name, yesterday pledged not to launch another new venture for at least five years as he set the latest of his fledgling companies on the road to the stock market. Enviros, an environmental products and services group which numbers the Prince of Wales among its customers, will double annual sales to around pounds 20m following the announcement that it is to acquire Aspinwall, said to be one of the UK's leading environmental consultancies, for pounds 7.5m.

Mr Evans, who will see his stake in Enviros diluted from around 60 per cent to just under a half as a result of the deal, said he expected the group to float in 18 months to two years when it achieved "critical mass" through further acquisitions and moved into profit. He predicted the 15-month-old group would become the largest environmental services company in the UK within four months.

But this would be the last company he would establish on his own account for "five to six years", he promised yesterday. Mr Evans' quoted companies already include the biotech groups Chiroscience and Celsis, along with Toad, the car security products company whose shares crashed earlier this month. He said he was now "at saturation point".

The enlarged Enviros will be valued at around pounds 25m by the latest buy, which is being paid for via the issue of pounds 6.25m in shares and the rest in cash. Aspinwall was founded in 1972 by its eponymous chairman, Professor Rod Aspinwall, and turnover is now approaching pounds 10m. Among the services provided by the group is the sort of environmental audit undertaken by Shell in the wake of the uproar caused by plans to dump the Brent Spar offshore oil loading buoy in the Atlantic.

Enviros, which chalked up losses of between pounds 1m and pounds 2m in its first year, has already made three acquisitions. Mr Evans said QuantiSci, a consultancy to heavy industry, Biotal, which develops bioscience applications, and Bio-Industries, involved in waste treatment, were among the best brands in the business.