Perform plans public listing in London

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The Independent Online

Perform Group, a UK digital sports media group backed by the Russian billionaire Len Blavatnik, is set to float in London at a valuation upwards of £500m.

The group released an "intention to float" document yesterday, applying to list on the main market of the London Stock Exchange. Co-chief executive Oliver Slipper said the funds raised would back a global expansion drive.

Perform hopes to complete the flotation before Easter. Its size would see the stock enter the FTSE 250 at the next index reshuffle.

Mr Slipper said the company, which generated revenues of £67.4m in 2010, was looking to build on its "first mover advantage in distribution and monetising digital sports content," adding: "This is part of an expansion drive; it will be a fast growth business."

After considering listing in Hong Kong and America, management chose London, as Mr Slipper said: "We are a UK company, our headquarters are here." Another reason to list is the companies plan to aggressively target the US, as it believes a public listing, and all the transparency and potential US investors that brings, would boost its chances.

"This is not about an exit, it is a way of growing the business," Mr Slipper said. "This is a unique asset and the market is very receptive to global digital media companies."

The group pointed to research from ScreenDigest that free-to-view online video hits would exceed 100 billion by 2014, with online video advertising, sports video and in-play betting estimated to hit $10.8bn next year. Perform makes money from online feeds to betting shops, content for niche sports websites and advertising around its clips on third-party sites.

Mr Slipper is co-chief executive with Simon Denyer, and the company is chaired by Paul Walker, formerly chief executive of Sage Group.

Perform was created in 2007, through the merger of Premium TV, which provided sports websites, and the rights agency Inform Group. It has a catalogue of more than 200 sports leagues, tournaments and events including Italy's Serie A, the tennis ATP World Tour, the US's National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball.

Mr Blavatnik's Access Industries involvement dates back to shortly before the merger, and currently holds a stake of 60 per cent in the group. He said the listing "heralds a new phase to cement its position as a leading global online sports business".

Yahoo has moved into showing sports online in the UK with a deal to screen Premier League highlights, while YouTube showed Indian Premier League Cricket.