Net floats under way with £400m listing by III

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The first big British Internet flotation of the year got under way yesterday when III Ltd, an online financial information provider, unveiled plans to seek a market listing that could value the four-year-old group at up to £400m.

The first big British Internet flotation of the year got under way yesterday when III Ltd, an online financial information provider, unveiled plans to seek a market listing that could value the four-year-old group at up to £400m.

In an unusual twist, III plans to cater for retail investors ahead of financial institutions, although the latter should still be able to buy stock in the initial public offering due by late February. To subscribe to the retail offer, private investors need to become registered account holders by 1 February.

"In principle, we want our registered users to have a stake in the company they chose to run their investments online," said Thomas Carruthers, III's chief executive. "We believe that the value of our company resides in those people who use its services, and that is why we are seeking to involve our registered account holders."

Yesterday more than 4,500 of III's 400,000 registered account holders formally applied for the flotation prospectus.

III plans to float 25 per cent of the company and will reinvest the funds in the business. Mr Carruthers aims to expand into continental Europe, beyond the foreign services III already operates in South Africa and Hong Kong.

The company also plans to develop new transaction and market information systems. Further out, III hopes to offer retail investors online access to initial public offer share auctions and secondary offerings of stock.

The company is unusual among Internet players having made a small profit on a near doubling of year-to-September sales to £2.6m. Its future prospects will depend on how well it can grow in the face of stiff competition from its online rivals.

III is 46 per cent-owned by Hollinger, the Toronto-based company, controlled by Conrad Black, which owns the Daily Telegraph. III's founder, Sherry Coutu, holds 26 per cent. All 100 staff and management have share options.

Comments