Phonelink Plc has applied to the London Stock Exchange for trading of its shares on the Unlisted Securities Market (CI No 2,166) and will use the UKP9.9m raised to fund research and development, increase its visibility on the market, and ensure it has the financial clout to sit alongside its partners on a equal footing. […]
Phonelink Plc has applied to the London Stock Exchange for trading of its shares on the Unlisted Securities Market (CI No 2,166) and will use the UKP9.9m raised to fund research and development, increase its visibility on the market, and ensure it has the financial clout to sit alongside its partners on a equal footing. Allied Provincial Securities Ltd will place 8.87m shares at 155 pence per share – while this represents 25% of equity, March 1993 also saw three of the group’s shareholders pay UKP3m for shares representing approximately 2.9% of the group’s total enlarged share capital. The UKP750,000 raised will be used to develop the Tel-Me range of database access applications. The placing values the Birkenhead, Merseyside company at UKP55m. Dealing will start on June 1, although Phonelink is keen go for a full listing once it has hit the three-year trading minimum. Phonelink rose out of the ashes of two companies, Profile UK and Technique International, in August 1989. Both were sold to provide the seed-core growth for the new firm and its innovative information retrieval system. The first product offered by Phonelink was DataCare, a bureau service for the automated bulk retrieval of telephone numbers. DataCare has generated most of Phonelink’s turnover to date – in 1992, this amounted to UKP923,000, while pre-tax profits, after UKP414,000 research and development spend, were UKP31,000. The service is used principally by banks, utilities, credit referencing agencies, and companies needing to maintain regular contact with customers. The second offering is the BT Teledirectory. While this is due to be launched by Phonelink in January 1994, British Telecommunications Plc may well make it available before then. BT Teledirectory is a software package, based on fuzzy logic, that provides a fast, user-friendly alternative to accessing numbers from BT’s Phonebase database. Said to offer 99.87% accuracy, it runs under Microsoft Corp Windows 3.1 on any IBM-compatible personal computer.
IBM UK agreed in principle
This computer is linked to Phonelink’s own computers via the group’s own fast connect modem on the public telephone network; via BT’s ISDN network; or via BT’s Global Service Network. A licence fee will cost about UKP10 and users will be charged for each unit of information rather than by the minute, although there will be no charge for customers linking into GSN. BT will remain responsible for billing, but Phonelink will receive payment per enquiry on a monthly basis. The product is now in the last stages of beta testing with 19 customers chosen by BT, and Phonelink chief executive Trevor Burke claims there has been a 95% take-up rate. His company has signed a non-exclusive distribution agreement with the telecommunications giant for a minimum of six years. While BT has the right to terminate the deal between years three and six, it also has the option of extending it for a further three years. Phonelink also intends to broaden the possible applications of the product with the launch of Tel-Me in the first quarter of 1994. Its goal is to offer easy access to a range of databases, which will be of use to the individual business user. Although pricing has not yet been decided, it will be kept low to appeal to the mass market. Organisations that have agreed in principle to let Phonelink hold and use their databases are Infocheck for company profiling; the Automobile Association for identification of appropriate hotel accommodation, restaurants and guest houses; Thomson Directories for finding business leads; the Press Association for news; Ordnance Survey for destination mapping; British Rail for railway timetables; British Weather Services; and GB Mailing Systems for postcode information. These organisations will also help market the relevant Tel-Me product. And Phonelink has established a strategic relationship with IBM Corp. IBM UK Ltd has agreed in principle to pre-load Tel-Me on all its personal computers of an agreed specification and will design and build a specific machine to incorporate the necessary com
munications devices, and to distribute Tel-Me in the UK.