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MessageLabs, the utility messaging service, said it is ready for an IPO if and when market conditions improve.

Chief finance officer Stephen Chandler told the Reg: "We've been preparing for an IPO for several years; we've strengthened the board, moved to International Accounting Standards and if the markets improve we'll be ready. But we're in a strong cash position even without such an event." MessageLabs data centres scan emails for malware before sending them to recipients - the firm has 18,000 business customers.

Chandler said in an atmosphere of doom and gloom the UK IT sector seems to be "more resilient than most" and within IT security is performing well - and in that market software as a service providers are doing even better.

Observers like Richard Holway have suggested that a trade buy is a more likely outcome for MessageLabs.

Chandler said: "We obviously can't rule out a trade buy either - we talk to lots of people in the market but our focus is on growing organically - although we had a good first half we had an even better second half."

MessageLabs converted a £5m loss last year into a £5m operating profit this year. ®

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