Altair prepares for spending spree after flotation

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Prepaid card group Altair Financial Services is preparing for a listing on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) in the third quarter this year, which could see it raise up to £50m.

The group, which counts a host of big City names as shareholders – including RAB Capital, GLG, Lansdowne and Blackrock – will use the cash it brings in from the flotation to fund an acquisition spree later in the year.

Altair, which employs more than 80 staff in the UK and US, is currently being advised by the broker Canaccord Capital.

The group recently rolled out a prepaid card in conjunction with MBNA for the Premiership football club Manchester City. The card will replace traditional paper season tickets held by fans. Arsenal is expected to be next to adopt the Altair technology.

Chief executive Lee Britton said a new prepayment card was also likely to be rolled out with Tesco later in the year, while the raising of new finance would enable it to issue products on its own. He added that Altair was heavily investing in new operations in both the Middle East and South Africa. The group is also working alongside Standard Chartered Bank in Asia.

"We aren't exactly insulated from the credit crunch but the impact on us is much less than many other companies in the financial space," said Mr Britton.

According to Altair's latest set of filed accounts, it posted a pre-tax loss for the six-month period to the end of December 2006 of nearly £2.6m. In 2006 Altair bought Symmetrex, a payments transaction processing firm, for an undisclosed amount.

The group was founded in 2005 and has been chaired by Firdy Ruttonshaw, the co-founder of ebookers, since last July.