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Attenda for sale this year? Not on your nelly, says CEO

Equity backer eyed exit but is holding off for better 2015 financials

£10 notes. Pic: Howard Lake

App hosting and co-lo slinger Attenda was expected to be put up for sale by owner Darwin Private Equity later this year, but postponed the process, and it’s latest financials perhaps explain why.

The venture capitalist backed an MBO of Staines-based Attenda in 2011 for £50m and multiple sources told us in May that it had eyed up the exit, but decided to hold off for better numbers.

The top line for parent Amphora Topco edged up 1.4 per cent in 2014 to £41.4m, compared to double-digit bounces in recent years: application hosting grew 0.4 per cent to £40.6m; and the co-lo area, Datum Datacentres, was up by more than 170 per cent to £1.15m.

Gross profit slipped to £12.23m from £12.38m in the previous calendar year, and total admin expenses including exceptional expenses came in at £13.22m from £12.8m.

The app infrastructure arm reported an operating profit of £3.8m, marginally up on the prior year’s £3.71m. Datum made an operating loss of £2.03m, slightly worse than last year's £2.01m.

Group operating loss came in at £2.3m, some £330k better than 2013, and after a £1m year-on-year hike in interest repayments to £8.6m and a meagre tax contribution, net loss was £10.7m, compared to £10.93m.

The company owes £28.4m in bank loans, £56.48m in long-term loan notes - typical of a VC-owned business - and £3.04m in finance lease obligations.

Clients include low-cost hotel chain Travelodge, office space rental services oompany Regus, recruitment agency Reed.co.uk and tinned fish and meat purveyor Princes.

“In 2015, it is forecast that Attenda [app hosting] will continue growth in revenues and profitability, based on a contracted backlog and budgeted sales to new and existing clients,” the firm said.

A bit barn was launched by Datum in 2013 and last year was spent trying to win new clients, with 25 secured in total.

Sources tell us that Attenda is likely to come on the market next year, but judging by recent experiences, this will probably hinge on turning in a better set of results to maximise a sale price.

Mark Fowle, CEO at Attenda, told us it is not engaged in a sales process or talking to advisors. “We are cracking on to have a good year,” he said.

But he said it is not a secret that private equity firms generally try to realise their investments in a certain time frame of around five to seven years and Darwin is no different.

We contacted Darwin and will update the article if and when they reply. ®

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