iSentia chasing a cornerstone investor

Media monitoring firm searching for major backer ahead of possible $500m float.

Media monitoring firm iSentia, which plans to list on the Australian Securities Exchange as a company worth up to $500 million, is searching for a cornerstone investor, according to market sources.

It is understood fund managers are still weighing up whether to support an initial public offering, widely flagged since January.

They held talks with investment bank Macquarie Group about the company’s prospects yesterday and some believed a price earnings multiple of about 15 times was appropriate. ISentia was yet to offer any guidance on pricing for an IPO.

It comes in a busy week for fund managers, being courted by investment banks managing the $2 billion IPO of Spotless and smaller floats such as that of Victoria-based private equity apparel firm PAS Group.

Australian institutional investors met Spotless management yesterday about its plans for a $2bn listing, while Morgan Stanley will meet fund managers tomorrow for the float of PAS.

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s Intueri Education Group was expected to be dually listed in Australia and New Zealand following strong investor support.

In January, iSentia’s advisers UBS and Macquarie embarked on a pre-initial public offering, as reported at the time by The Australian. It recently purchased AAP’s Media Monitors, which provides media alert, distribution and analysis services throughout the Asia-Pacific region and is 85 per cent-owned by private equity firm Quadrant, with the remainder held by management.

Media Monitors was started by Neville Jeffress in 1982 and derives about 80 per cent of its revenue from Australia, with the remainder from Asia.

Listed, the company is likely to have a market capitalisation of $300m to $500m, and to generate about $90m in annual revenue and almost $35m in pretax earnings.

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