Google who? Search engine Accoona to float on AIM

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The Independent Online

Accoona, the US "artificial intelligence" search engine company, plans to raise at least $100m (£57m) when it floats on AIM this year.

It has appointed Cenkos, the new specialist broker run by Andrew Stewart, the co-founder of Collins Stewart, to advise it on the initial public offering. The float is pencilled in to take place by the end of June.

Accoona will use the cash raised to fund its expansion plans, as it rolls out its search engine in Europe and China.

The New Jersey company's search engine differs from others by including results that match the meaning, as well as the actual words typed into the search field. It also has a business search facility, which calls up company profiles.

Stuart Kauder, its chief executive, said: "Our artificial intelligence search technology helps users to find more - and more relevant - results than traditional search engines. For example, if you type 'car insurance' into our news or business search engine, you will get relevant results to your query beyond a direct keyword match, in this case not just bringing back relevant results with the word 'car', but also with 'automobile'."

Within a couple of months, Accoona will make its "artificial intelligence" available for general web searches. Currently, it is just available for business and news searches in the US. It also plans to launch a European site that will have separate country-domain sub-sites, including a ".co.uk" site for Britain, by the end of June.

Accoona is forecasting revenues approaching $200m this year, mainly from selling advertising next to the search results. It expects to become profitable by the end of this year, and next year its forecasts show it generating $350m.

The company is chaired by Eckard Pfeiffer, the former president of Compaq, and is 10 per cent owned by the Chinese government. It has already raised more than $100m from private investors in China and Europe.

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