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December 21, 2004

Baltimore journey to end in takeover?

The odyssey of Baltimore Technologies Plc, the one-time high-flying e-security software provider that once had a market value of $9.5 billion at the height of the dot-com boom, looks like it may be coming to an end.

By CBR Staff Writer

Baltimore was once a leading security vendor, with products designed to ensure secure e-commerce, but revenue never matched its ambitions and in July 2001, with money running out, a restructuring program was undertaken in a bid for survival. Even the cut-backs failed to give it a viable business and in May 2003 it announced it was looking for a buyer.

The Dublin, Ireland-based company sold its core PKI business to security and identity management provider Betrusted for GBP5 million ($8.2 million) while Hewlett-Packard Co paid GBP8.3 million ($13.8 million) for its SelectAccess web-based single sign-on software.

It then tried to be reborn as a supplier of clean energy, but it has now been reduced to a GBP25 million ($48 million) cash shell with a market capitalization of only GBP5 million ($9.6 million). In November it announced it planned to delist from the London Stock Exchange and become a private company.

However, Baltimore is still embroiled in a legal row with electronic payment specialist Earthport Plc over a series of contracts the two companies struck in 2001. Earthport is claiming GBP13 million ($25 million) for misrepresentation and alleged breach of contract, but Baltimore insists its case is without merit.

Now however Earthport has announced that instead of suing the company, it could simply buy it instead, as an alternative way of recouping the money it claims it is owed.

The possible cash and shares offer is however likely to fought by Baltimore’s management.

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