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Morse gears up for £300m stock market float

Listing to be completed within first half of the year

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Morse Holdings, the parent company of Morse Group is to float on the London Stock Exchange. The flotation is expected to give Morse a market capitalisation in the region of £300 million. The initial offering will be valued at around £200 million, £70 million of which will be new money raised for the company. The remaining £130 million will be made up of shares sold by existing share owners. Morse is 75 per cent owned by venture capitalists (3i has a 55 per cent stake, and PPM Ventures has 20 per cent). Its executive directors own 12 per cent, senior management own six per cent and the company’s staff have a stake of two per cent. The remaining founders of Morse, Nick Read and Richard Styles, retain five per cent between them. The bulk of the offer is expected to be made up of shares currently held by the venture capitalists. There is a plan for an employee share offer, as the offer will not be a public one. Morse Holdings has appointed Richard Lapthorne as non-executive chairman of the company. Lapthorne is also a non-executive director of Orange Telecommunications and Robert Fleming Holdings. He was described by a Morse representative as "a steady and experienced hand on the tiller" for the float. Morse Group marketing director, Mark Byatt, said the float would help the company boost its services offering and enable it to expand further into Europe. Currently, Morse has a division in Germany and is believed to be considering a move into France. "There are immense opportunities in this market," he said. "The trick is to focus on them." Rumours that Morse was planning to float began to circulate last year, when the company was given a speculative value of around £600 million. These stories were refuted by a source close to the company who said they were "pie in the sky figures." ®

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