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  1. Technology
February 24, 1999

IT SERVICES: MICROGEN CLAIMS EXPANDING CUSTOMER BASE

By CBR Staff Writer

Microgen Holdings Plc, a UK company offering document management outsourcing services, is developing data query/analysis tools to enable customers to interrogate data they have stored in their databases. The company launched its Microgen Axess internet-based document management service in August 1998, which offered customers a managed outsourced service that could be quickly implemented without capital expenditure. Microgen now claims a rapidly-expanding blue-chip customer base and says it has recently won a contract worth more than 200,000 pounds a year from an investment bank to load one million pages a day. Microgen has a history as a spectacularly unsuccessful outfit. Its background was in computer output to microfiche (COM) but it was crippled by the costs of developing a new internet-based system. But the company found a Messiah in the form of Martyn Ratcliffe, a former senior manager at Dell Computer Corp who was not only prepared to take over control but was also willing to sink 3.5m pounds of his own money into the company (CI No 3,383). Ratcliffe raised money by selling subsidiaries in Germany, Norway, Sweden and Denmark for 26.25m pounds in cash and outsourced the old-technology COM operation. The turnaround will take some time. Disposals of overseas operations has halved revenues and only an exceptional profit of 12.1m pounds on disposals has kept it out of the red. While comparisons are difficult with a change in year-end, revenues on continuing operations are starting to pick up and the balance sheet has strengthened, with the company sitting on a 20.2m cash pile. Ratcliffe says that in order to accelerate growth in revenue and earnings, the company will now be actively seeking acquisitions.

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