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November 30, 1997updated 03 Sep 2016 7:40pm

PCL ACQUISITION GIVES M-R GROUP FINAL PIECE OF THE JIGSAW

By CBR Staff Writer

M-R Group Plc, the London-based document management company has just acquired what it feels is the final piece in its group jigsaw. M-R has paid ú4.5m in cash (plus the assumption of ú1.2m in debt) for PCL Ltd, a struggling data capture and information management specialist. Together, the two can offer a complete line up of document management services from data capture via scanning, OCR and manual input etc. to the archive and retrieval services that M-R specializes in (having grown from microfilm and microfiche). PCL has been bumping along with sub ú500,000 profits for the last few years having broken away from P&O as a management buy out in 1984. It still has some prestigious clients, including British Telecommunications Plc and Shell UK and these form a crucial part of the company’s perceived value. Aside from data capture, PCL also provides outsourcing of business intelligence services, running Shell UK’s customer loyalty card data base for example. With 1996 revenues of ú13.2m and 700 people on the payroll, PCL’s sales per employee work out at just ú19,000. But the figures make more sense once you realize PCL has a 350-strong data entry workforce based off shore in Mauritius. Documents are scanned and then beamed to the island via a satellite link. The images are manually keyed into text format and returned. This is another of PCL’s key assets which M-R hopes to incorporate and exploit, but PCL’s tiny profit margins will be subjected to the inevitable business rationalizations i.e. redundancies. The combined businesses will cover the entire document life cycle, says chairman Colin Haylock, who is full of enthusiasm for the burgeoning market in digital document management with large corporates beginning to outsource to people like M-R. Haylock also hinted at a major new data archiving and retrieval system to be announced in the next few weeks. In its last full year M-R turned over ú39m with profits of ú5.6m. The acquisition of PCL is to be funded from M-R’s existing cash balances.

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