NETeller raises £30m in stock market debut

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Stephen Lawrence, the Canadian internet entrepreneur who founded NETeller, an electronic payment company for online betting sites, saw his stake in the business valued at around £85m when shares made their stock market debut yesterday.

In the biggest flotation on London's junior market, the Alternative Investment Market, NETeller was valued at £240m. This also makes it one of the biggest technology listings in the UK in recent years.

It raised £30m from selling shares at 200p each. John Lefebvre, co-founder of the business and a non-executive director, has a stake valued at around £52m. Both Mr Lawrence and Mr Lefebvre sold £5m of shares to assist the flotation but have pledged not to sell any more for 12 months. The value of Mr Lawrence's stake adds to his annual $6m (£3.3m) pay packet.

The pair set up the business in 1999 at the height of the technology boom, but NETeller admitted that the company had a low public profile, which contributed to a muted debut. Shares closed at 197p, 3p below the offer price.

"It's now up to us to get the story out there because a lot of people don't know who NETeller is," Gord Herman, NETeller's chief executive, said.

The company hopes that retail investors will be interested in the business, given the growing popularity of online gambling. NETeller's clients include William Hill's online gambling site and Ladbrokes. It provides secure money transfers for punters and companies over the internet and had 586,500 individual customers at the end of 2003. It is adding an average of 1,600 a day, and 1,250 companies use the system.

NETeller reported a pre-tax profit of $255,651 in the year to August 2003. Monthly turnover has grown from $4.3m in December to $5.7m last month.

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