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September 25, 1995

MAID SHARES SHRUG OFF FALL IN PROFITS

By CBR Staff Writer

A drop in profits has not proved to be an obstacle to the continuing rise of MAID Plc shares, which rose 16p to 219p, despite interim profits falling 3.1% to ú277,000 on turnover up 45.1% at ú5.8m. The UK on-line information provider feels sufficiently confident to make an initial public offering of American Depository Receipts in the US to raise $50m to fund the development of its Profound on-line database service, and seek a Nasdaq listing. Profound, which has its own business, Profound Inc, is claimed to make business research easier and more affordable. The $50m raised in part be used to fund the MAID-Microsoft alliance which has proved so effective in inflating the company’s share price (CI No 2,726). It will also be used to develop a German language version of Profound with Bertlesmann Professional Information (CI No 2,735) which is seen as a means of expanding its Infosort business categorisation system into Germanic markets. Additional funds will be directed towards opening a further eight sales offices in the US, four in Europe in Stockholm, Madrid, Amsterdam and Edinburgh and a further Far East office in Singapore. The US will be our main market in the future, said Dan Wagner, MAID chief executive, although currently the company derives 50% of its business from the UK and around 30% from the US. We have achieved growth rates that we never expected and should achieve a 10% market share in the US within the next two to three years, he said. The company also plans to put Profound on the Web by the first quarter of 1996 and will also develop it as a groupware product, with Profound for Lotus Notes and Microsoft Exchange also planned for the first quarter of next year. Profound, which was launched in March of this year, has yet to generate revenues. MAID has invested ú2.5m in pre-launch marketing of the product which will be absorbed into second half figures. The fall in profits was attributed to an expected rise in administrative costs that was deemed necessary in order to create the infrastructure for Profound products. The company spent ú2.2m on improving premises in London, New York, Hong Kong and Denmark and improving distribution channels for the product. Wagner said that revenues from the usage of services accounted for 55% of total revenues – a fact he saw as testimony to the speed, accuracy and price of the on-line service. He also predicted that usage revenues would continue to rise. The company has also announced that it has signed a three-year licence agreement with NCM Group, a privately-owned Dutch export credit insurance company, to provide its Profound Business Intelligence as an on-line service for a ú4.5m subscription fee, ú3m of which must be paid by the end of next year. MAID said it expected NCM’s installed base to yield significant usage revenue, and he expects to sign similiar licensing deals to sell Profound into established customer bases this year.

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