Billam plc has announced its first set of results since being transformed into an investment vehicle last year.
The former manufacturer of aircraft panels went into receivership in October 1999 but Angus Forrest and Peter Ho restructured the company through a CVA (corporate voluntary arrangement). In June 2000, it relisted on AIM as an investment company which focuses on serious digital technology. It invests in bio-science indirectly through its associated company World Life Sciences Plc.
The company has flourished since its change of direction. In the period up to 31 December 2000, the new Billam was founded, commenced trading and made a profit before tax of £2,007,000 including an unrealised capital gain of £2,000,000. On its return to market in June 2000, the company had just 217 shareholders; it now has over 5000.
Its net return for the year before taxation was £4,114,000 compared to a loss of £3,404,000 in 1999. The net assets of the group at 31 December 2000 totalled £6,277,000. In 1999 it had £2,614,000 of liabilities. The net assets per ordinary share as at 31 December 2000 were 0.72p.
The company’s chairman, Victor Beamish, said that the year had been a watershed for the company. “Resurrected, refinanced and repackaged, we re-entered the arena as an investment company. Our intention is to become a serious direct investor in digital technologies, and to invest in life sciences through our associated company World Life Sciences plc. In the seven months under the current management, I am proud to say that we have made strong progress, exceeding expectations, and emerging among the best performing small investment companies over that period,” he said.
Two of the companies it has backed have already floated. IVU Traffic Technologies AG is now listed on the Neuer Markt in Germany, and World Life Sciences plc has come to the Alternative Investment Market of the London Stock Exchange. These were followed on 16 March 2001 by an initial public offering on AIM of shares in CybIT Holdings plc. The placing price for CybIT Holdings shares was 3.5p and the directors estimate that this would give Billam Plc net assets of £15.6m and net assets per share of 1.84p at that date.
The chairman also sought to allay investors fears about the volatility of tech stocks. “I am aware that some shareholders have been concerned by fluctuations in our share price, and worry that they might reflect upon the company’s performance. Trading in penny shares is often volatile and sometimes appears frustratingly illogical. We hope that by keeping investors in touch with our progress we can encourage greater shareholder understanding, confidence and loyalty,” he said.