London float for i-mate

Mobile device firm i-mate is to float on the London Stock Exchange, it said this month, a move targeted to penetrate lucrative corporate markets in the West.

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By  Chris Whyatt Published  September 25, 2005

Mobile device firm i-mate is to float on the London Stock Exchange, it said this month, a move targeted to penetrate lucrative corporate markets in the West. But the Dubai-based company insists the Middle East remains a priority, and that regional development can benefit in the process. The company, which supplies handheld devices, such as poc-ket PCs and smartphones, wants to complete the initial public offering (IPO) on London’s junior Alternative Investment Market (AIM) by the end of this year with initial forecasts valuing the business around the US$400million mark. The IPO should free as much as US$90million as working capital to fund sales growth, increase R&D and drive product development. Group sales for i-mate last year were US$136million, with pre-tax profits of US$14.4million. The company only recently began selling its products in western Europe and the US, and the IPO - if accepted - is designed to illustrate to those markets the company’s credentials. “The big carriers in the western world will not deal with you unless you’re a public company, due to the vast sums involved. This helps make us transparent, so they know they’re dealing with an entity that’s audited and public,” Jim Morrison told IT Weekly last week. Last year i-mate went as far as appointing an investment bank Bell Lawrie Wright to advise on a potential IPO, which never materialised. In a previous interview with IT Weekly (see 16-29 July, 2005) Morrison said i-mate was still establishing exactly why it wan- ted to float. Now, he says the timing is right and the market high for i-mate to go public. The Glaswegian entrepreneur was equally forthright ab-out the impact of the float on the Middle East. “We’ve always been improving in the region, but we’ve still got a lot of the market to go in. The float will help us,” he said. “As we penetrate our markets, it will also help penetrate more of the Middle East market. It’s where we come from and always gets top priority,” he added, pointing out that he chose to launch ’his’ new devices (such as its PDA2 handheld) at this month’s Gitex in Dubai, rather than the feted CTIA wireless convention in America. “Everything new we bring in comes to the Middle East first.” Morrison said i-mate’s device sales would benefit from a forthcoming product release from partner Microsoft. In December Microsoft will release its updated Exchange Server Service Pack 2, as a free upgrade on an ROI (Return On Investment) basis, which will allow push e-mail. While rival Research In Motion (RIM) has push e-mail for its popular BlackBerry devices, users have to pay additional licence fees for the middleware. “If an IT manager can save $10,000 on the server, and $40 a month per device, and you handle a hundred devices…. that’s a lot of money,” said Morrison. “We have been working with Microsoft very closely on this, and we will be the first people in the world with push-hosted Exchange,” he added.

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