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FLV Fund seeks partner

The Belgian fund has had enough of being associated with L&H and is looking for a partner or a takeover offer.

Beleaguered Belgian-based Flanders Language Valley Fund(FLV Fund) has announced that it is looking for possible partners or take-over candidates to in an effort to distance itself from disgraced company Lernout & Hauspie Speech Products, the voice recognition company.

Last week the fund wrote off $1.46 per share for the fourth quarter. This made up the $30m which the company says was misappropriated by the former head of Lernout & Hauspie Korea, John Seo.

FLV Fund has a cash position of approximately $45m as at 31 December 2000, which takes into account the $30m write-off and its debt free balance sheet as well as ‘a conservative estimate of the usual VC write-offs, which still needs to be decided on by its internal audit committee’. A company statement says: “the strong balance sheet and cash position provides FLV Fund with sufficient means to maximise the shareholder value with regard to negotiations of possible partnerships and/or a take-over.”

A partnership or takeover will also include FLV’s sister company S.AI.L Trust, the not-for-profit organisation for the development and commercialisation of products and services based on the technical concepts of speech, artificial intelligence and language. S.AI.L. Trust, formerly FLV Foundation, constitutes was set up with the to further growth in advanced applications of S.AI.L. technology. Jo Lernout and Pol Hauspie, the two founders of Lernout & Hauspie Speech Products, set it up in 1997.

In November, Lernout & Hauspie acknowledged that information may have been concealed from its auditors KPMG. KPMG subsequently withdrew its audit of the company’s 1998 and 1999 results.