Maid on line to raise pounds 20m through equity placing

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MAID, a provider of on-line business information, plans to raise up to pounds 20m through a share placing next month, expected to value the company at about pounds 80m.

Founded in 1985, Maid had turnover of pounds 5.7m in 1993 and made pre-tax profits of pounds 603,000. More than 500 subscribers in 20 countries have access to a wide array of databases for an annual pounds 6,000 fee and connection charges.

Maid pays a royalty for data to information companies such as Reuters, Dun & Bradstreet, Mintel and Datamonitor, and sells a comprehensive package to its own customers.

It claims the service is easy to use - clients do not need to learn special codes and computer instructions.

It has also developed indexing software to aid searches across a number of databases.

One of the company's newest products gives access to the Maid system through Lotus Notes software. It is developing one that uses Microsoft's Windows software, and also plans multimedia and CD-ROM delivery.

Dan Wagner, the 30-year-old founder and chief executive, said the market for on-line information services was growing, especially in the US, with the development of 'information superhighways' - linked networks of computers. Industry forecasts put worldwide sales of on-line services at dollars 15bn ( pounds 10.5bn) by 1997.

'We are seeking the funds for investment in our future products. It is a very exciting market.'

About a quarter of the company's share capital will be placed, with dealings expected to begin on 25 March.