Moulton bucks the trend with £200m Phoenix float

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The Independent Online

Alchemy Partners, the venture capitalist headed by Jon Moulton, is preparing to brave the markets by floating IT company Phoenix for £200m.

The market for initial public offerings hasn't fully recovered from the slump that began in March 2000, but Mr Moulton is confident Phoenix can be floated this summer. He declined to comment, but it is understood that Alchemy has hired investment bank UBS to handle the float.

Alchemy owns 44.5 per cent of Phoenix, with the majority stake held by the company's chief executive, Nick Robinson.

According to the last set of accounts filed at Companies House, Phoenix made a pre-tax profit of £5.8m on a turnover of £52.7m in the year to 31 March 2003. Sources said that the Northampton-based company is well placed to report a further jump in profits and turnover when it publishes its next set of results.

Phoenix was established in 1980. After 13 years trading it was bought by its current chief executive, who described the business as "a real mess" when he took it on. Mr Robinson refocused the company by providing outsourced IT services to clients such as LogicaCMG and IBM. He brought in Alchemy to fund Phoenix's expansion.

Alchemy is at the centre of a number of deals. It has put Paramount hotels up for sale and is also backing a management buyout proposal of the Box Clever bank, WestLB.

But the company is probably still best known for its audacious attempt to buy the troubled car-maker Rover from BMW. The consortium of businessmen that eventually beat Alchemy to the deal was ironically called... Phoenix.