MAID shares soar on Microsoft link

MATHEW HORSMAN

Shares in MAID, the financial information provider, more than doubled to 168p yesterday, for the first time rising above last year's issue price of 140p on news of a strategic alliance with Microsoft, the world's biggest software producer.

Under the deal, MAID will supply its on-line financial information services, including Researchline, Newsline, Companyline and Brokerline, to users of the Microsoft Network, an on-line service that will come as standard with Windows 95, Microsoft's new-generation operating system.

Analysts expected the network to reach as many as 9 million subscribers in the first 12 months, and perhaps as many as 20 million in 1997. Users would pay each time they accessed MAID information, and be billed through Microsoft, which will take a commission. Dan Wagner, chief executive, said the price of services might range from 50 cents to as much as $30 for a full company report.

No money is changing hands under the deal, but Microsoft has designated MAID as a strategic supplier, and will work with MAID to develop other possible services.

"We have been working on this for some time," Mr Wagner said. "We wanted to keep it quiet because of the commercially sensitive nature of the alliance."

Mr Wagner blamed "poor publicity" and a difficult market for the weak reception the stock enjoyed upon flotation. "People have been waiting to see what we would do. Clearly, there is now real interest."

Over 3 million shares traded yesterday, higher than the volume of trading in the past year combined.

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