UK: MBO Positions just-sites.com for Rapid Growth and IPO
- * £2 million deal with 3i finances development of Web sites and substantial expansion of services
* Conservative business plan avoids traditional dot.com expansion pitfalls and steers to IPO
* Partnership alliances and joint marketing deals reduce risk of new service development
A £2 million management buyout financed by 3i, Europe's leading venture capital house, has been announced by business information Web sites operator just-sites.com. The deal positions the company for rapid growth and for an extension of its unique information services - and a planned Initial Public Offering next year.
just-sites.com provides in-depth, industry-specific business news, information and research through dedicated Web portals - combining material from a wide range of sources. It offers business professionals a single point of access for the most comprehensive knowledge available anywhere.
Currently, there are four just-sites portals. These cover the automotive industry (just-auto.com), apparel, footwear and textiles (just-style.com), the food industry (just-food.com) and the drinks industry (just-drinks.com). Over 100 leading global industry research organisations are among the sponsors and input is also provided by key trade media and industry experts.
The buyout from GEAC Computer Corporation funds a majority holding for the top management team of CEO Allan Davies, who prior to joining just-sites.com was International Marketing Director for JBA plc, chief technical officer Mike Gove and chief marketing officer Richard Jackson. Joining the management team will be Roger Withers, as non-executive chairman from 3i's Independent Directors Programme. Withers is an experienced non-exec director who has been closely involved in a number of highly successful dot.com businesses and will provide strong strategic financial input.
3i will take a 25% stake in the new company and GEAC Computer Corporation, a leading supplier of business systems to over 10,000 SMEs around the world, and the original parent of just-sites.com, also retains a significant shareholding.
The major portion of the proceeds will be used to develop and promote just-sites.com's four current Web portals, which are already established as market leaders in the online information market - which is forecast to grow to $40 billion worldwide by 2004 - generating substantial hit levels and significant revenue. Currently, the four portals have over 50,000 unique visitors viewing more than 400,000 pages of information per month. This is expected to grow substantially over the next year.
According to CEO Allan Davies, just-sites.com has a well-established knowledge supply chain and intelligent use of the Internet provides a more efficient and lower cost marketing and distribution channel for the business.
"Our business model is based on lower costs and better service for both suppliers and customers. Unlike many other dot.com businesses, we have taken a hard-headed, traditional business approach to all our ventures. Our marketing costs are proportionate to a sound business plan - and our current revenue - and as a result we predict monthly profitability within 18 months. The buyout provides us with the resources to build just-sites into a leading global brand and increase substantially the substance and value of our content."
Roger Withers, non-executive Chairman of just-sites.com commented:
"I am delighted to be joining this exciting new business. just-sites.com is a new style of dot.com that has been carefully planned to make money from an early stage in its development. We are confident that the company has a great future."
Key elements of just-sites.com's expansion will be an extension of the range of information services, widening of partnerships with other information providers, marketing alliances with major brands and personalisation of knowledge delivery to sharpen differentiation.
To deliver its growth plans the company expects to double its staff by the end of the year and it will also be making a major investment in expanding its network of expert correspondents and individual industry information providers and commentators.
The Reuters news feed on each site provides latest breaking news, and visitors can drill down through main subject headings to individual companies, financial details, product and sales information. While access to the sites is free, revenue is generated through the resale of an extremely wide range of information products, such as reports, industry research, databases, books and training materials produced by business partners.
Press information from:
Tel: 0370 686625
Sean Gough or John Bradshaw
Tel: 020 7557 4700/2/8
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