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Plasmon Inc rises from ashes of...Plasmon Ltd

US private equity buyout succeeds

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Plasmon rides again. CEO Steve Murphy has successfully negotiated a private equity buyout of Plasmon Inc from the UK-based parent Plasmon Ltd which is in administration.

Armed with undisclosed funds from an undisclosed US private equity firm, Plasmon Ltd CEO Steve Murphy has bought Plasmon Inc from the UK administrators of Plasmon Ltd, along with IP, Plasmon assets and subsidiaries in the USA, Italy, Belgium and Asia, and customer contact details. The remainder of Plasmon Ltd can expect to be liquidated with very little left over to pay any creditors.

Murphy becomes the CEO and only director of Plasmon Inc, the new company. Other directors will presumably be announced shortly and thus identify the unknown buyer.

It is a personal triumph for Murphy but likely to be a disaster for staff in the unwanted bits of Plasmon Ltd face a very uncertain future.

The terms of the buyout were not disclosed. Given that an initial US private equity buyout proposal based on terms of a quarter penny per share and $20m plus product development and working capital funds collapsed, it is unlikely that this successful buyout will bring much if any joy to shareholders. Meanwhile, anxious investors will no doubt be besieging the Kroll administrators to find out why it's necessary to keep the terms confidential.

It is remarkable that in this economic climate a deal was done at all, and almost as remarkable that companies of the stature of IBM were willing to sign partnership deals with Plasmon in the last couple of weeks.

IBM had an almost astonishing faith that Plasmon Inc was going to survive, indicating profound belief that Plasmon's products and strategies are solid, even if its ability to turn itself around using that strategy has been delayed. It was this delay in sales revenue which prompted previous backers Hanover Investors to throw in the towel a few weeks ago.

We can expect Murphy to drive Plasmon hard to solidify its product offer and strengthen its channel. But Plasmon management and its new private equity owners must realise they're facing a recession lasting several quarters and that Plasmon is not out of the intensive care ward.

Yes, it has been resuscitated and its financial heart is beating again, but now it has to sell product as if its very survival is at stake. For it still is.®

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