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Health care, high-tech firms may float stock

February 15, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Andrew Bushe

DUBLIN – Up to 15 Irish-owned technology and health-care companies are planning to go public and float their shares on stock exchanges in the next two years, according to a top banker.

In recent years, though the stock market and the economy have been performing strongly, there have been few flotations, but Richard Keatinge, managing director of the Investment Bank of Ireland, said this trend was now beginning to reverse.

“The Irish market has been starved of quality new issues,” he

said. “But we expect that within the next two years there will be a further 10 to 15 flotations of Irish-owned companies, primarily led by technology companies, who will list in Dublin as part of a dual listing with the NASDAQ.”

He told a Dublin conference that returns on the Irish stock market to date this year are 30 percent and the rating in most markets are now higher than at any time in post-war history.

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The total return on the Irish exchange last year was 53 percent.

The price/earnings multiple for the U.S. NASDAQ is currently 61 times and the four-year average return to 1997 was 23 percent with a 19 percent return for this year to date.

The P/E multiple for Ireland is at a record 18.5 times, which is line with the UK.

IBI associate director Ted Webb said many company owners had avoided going public in the past because of the loss of control and loss of privacy.

“This attitude is not as evident in the technology sector, where

the growth and financing needs of the business override such concerns,” Webb said. “Going public provides and improved financial base, greater marketability and corporate image, and improved value for the company.

“Access to capital helps sustain organic growth and also provides funding for acquisitions. In addition it provides to the owners of a business a means of liquidating their personal investment.”

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