Canadian airport security company aims to raise £25m in float

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A Canadian company which specialises in advanced airport security systems is set to cash in on the growth in homeland security budgets by floating on the London market next month.

Visual Defence, a leading provider of digital security systems such as advanced cameras and motion sensors, is expected to be valued at about £70m when it lists on the junior Alternative Investment Market.

The company, owned partly by the quoted mobile technology group Emblaze, intends to raise about £25m of new cash to invest in sales and marketing and strengthen its presence outside North America.

The company's security systems are already in place in a number of Canadian airports, including Toronto and Ottawa. Visual Defence is thought to have held talks with BAA, the owner of Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and four other UK airports. The technologies it is developing include a digital system which enables airport operators to scan the faces of all passengers inside a terminal and match them to images of known terrorist suspects.

The global homeland security market is put at $42bn (£23bn), while the sector in which Visual Defence specialises is growing at a rate of 54 per cent and is forecast to be worth $7.4bn in two years' time.

Emblaze, which owns just under 50 per cent of the business, is not selling any of its shares and is expected to agree to a lock-in preventing it from disposing of any of its stake for a year. The remainder of the company is owned by Canadian private equity funds and its chief executive Oved Tal, whose 20 per cent stake will be worth about £20m. The AIM float is expected to result in about one-third of the company being offered to outside investors.

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