MTI Partners, the UK-based early-stage hi-tech investor, and Enterprise Venture Capital Trust have invested £2m (E3.2m) in a pre-IPO round of financing for The Message Pad Limited, a virtual office.
The Message Pad specialises in personalised telephone answering, providing customers with a round-the-clock virtual switchboard including reception services, message notification, customer emergency call out and care lines, order taking and media response facilities. It was founded in 1994.
Speaking about the company's planned listing, Chris James, CEO of Message Pad told PEO: “We are going for it. Market conditions aren’t exactly conducive but we’re hoping to go to IPO in the fourth quarter this year or the first quarter next year. What’s needed are solid sensible companies that are starting to make some money and we are getting ourselves into that sort of shape.”
The cash raised will enable the company to complete the £2m acquisition of one of its principal competitors, Message Plus. The acquisition will make The Message Pad the largest company in Europe's personal telemessaging market and “provides a strong platform for its planned flotation later this year”, a company statement says.
Dr Paul Castle, chief executive of MTI Partners, said that the acquisition strengthens The Message Pad’s proposition prior to a planned IPO later this year. “MTI is committed to funding companies with exciting technologies and strong growth prospects. The Message Pad has proved to fit both of these criteria since our initial investment in 1997, and its performance has led to MTI making further investments in 1999 and today,” he added. The Message Pad raised £1.25m in its second round of financing in 1999.
Message Plus was established in 1992 and employs 114 staff. Its 24-hour call centre handles over 1.6 million calls per year. It has seen growth in sales each year from its inception to the total of over £1.9 million in 2000. The company handles calls for over 1500 clients, ranging from SMEs to blue chip companies.