IP2IPO unveils plan for £110m AIM float

IP2IPO, the intellectual property division of the investment boutique Evolution, unveiled plans yesterday to float on the Alternative Investment Market with a price tag of £100m to £110m.

David Norwood, IP2IPO's chief executive, pledged to spend £1m of his own money buying stock in the share placing, which will give him a stake of about 1 per cent.

The chess grand master shot to fame during the height of the internet bubble in 2000, when he sold his IndexIT technology advisory business to Beeson Gregory in an all-share deal worth £34m, just seven months after setting it up.

A year later, he became chief executive of the broker Beeson Gregory but stepped down after 10 months to become chairman of IP2IPO.

Evolution, which bought Beeson Gregory last year, said yesterday that IP2IPO was looking to raise around £25m of new money through the AIM flotation.

IP2IPO (intellectual property to initial public offering) was set up to commercialise intellectual property, mainly in the life sciences arena, developed in universities. So far, it has struck 15 to 25-year deals with Oxford University, the University of Southampton, King's College London and the University of York.

Mr Norwood said yesterday the £25m of new money would give IP2IPO "working capital pretty much forever" after stripping out £12.5m that it has already pledged to spend. The company has just over £9m of cash in the bank.

"If you want to get these 25-year deals at universities, you need to show that you're going to be around," he said. "I promise you we will not be disappearing."

He saidthat Oxford-based IP2IPO, which employs a workforce of 10, was not one of the so-called "incubator" businesses that mushroomed in the technology boom. "An incubator, by definition, houses the stuff," he said. "All the stuff that's going on here is real science happening in labs and we're being a catalyst to pull it all together."

IP2IPO will help bring in management, write business plans and put in funding or raise funding, Mr Norwood said, adding: "It's bringing all that together which is what IP2IPO does really well."

He and his team are marketing the business to institutions and shares in IP2IPO are expected to start trading on the stock market next month. Mr Norwood, who owns a stake of under 2 per cent in Evolution, does not own any shares in IP2IPO, although he has a "small" number of options.

The Evolution Group is expected to cut its 75 per cent holding in IP2IPO to below 50 per cent. None of the other shareholders in the business, which include Artemis, are selling any shares.

Alex Snow, Evolution's chief executive, said: "The flotation of IP2IPO is a major strategic step forward for Evolution as we continue to focus on our core strengths of investment banking and retail fund management."

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