Knee maker Corin limbers up for a £22m float

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The Independent Online

The growing demand for artificial knees among young people is fuelling a £22m share placing by Corin, a specialist maker of orthopaedic joints. Beeson Gregory, the stockbroker, is sponsoring a full listing in May which will value the group at £40m.

Venture capital backers, including 3i, Bridgepoint, Granville and Prudential, will collect £18m of the £22m as they cash in their preference shares in Corin. Another £400,000 will be spent on increasing the group's stake in its Japanese subsidiary from 60 per cent to 80 per cent. Most of the rest will be devoted to working capital, including a campaign to win approval from the US Food and Drug Administration for Corin's two star products: the Rotaglide+ knee and the Cornet 2000 hip.

Peter Gibson, Corin's chairman and founder, said: "The flotation is a major step in our development, as it will raise our profile at exactly the right time. We have spent our early years building up critical mass, credibility and technological excellence. We are now ready to use those competitive strengths to make major inroads into a global market, whose future growth is underpinned both by attractive demographics and by the technological innovation inherent in our products."

Corin's business plan is based on people living longer but needing joint replacements younger. By 2050 more than half the world will be peopled by the over-65s. The worldwide market for orthopaedic devices was estimated to be worth $13.1bn (£9.3bn) in 2000.

The group, which is based in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, was formed 17 years ago to exploit new orthopaedic technology, particularly joint replacement, trauma and sports injuries, spinal implants and orthopaedic theatre disposable equipment.

For the year ended 31 December 2001, Corin's sales rose 10 per cent to £14.09m from £12.8m. Profit before tax increased from £1.16m to £1.74m. Corin employs 160 people and has a worldwide distribution network covering more than 50 countries, including the US, Germany and Japan.