ThirdForce buys UK e-learning firm

9 Sep 2005

Irish Alternative Investment Market-listed e-learning technologies group ThirdForce has agreed to acquire UK e-learning firm Creative Learning Media (CLM) for some £5.5m sterling (€8.1m) in a cash and shares deal.

The company describes the acquisition as a strategic move that expands ThirdForce’s already strong market presence providing e-learning to thousands of individuals across the UK. The move will expand ThirdForce’s presence in the hospitality, food, retail and healthcare sectors in which CLM has a strong presence.

ThirdForce has agreed to pay up to £5.5m sterling, which will be split into £1.2m sterling in cash and £2.4m in ThirdForce shares and a deferred contingent consideration of up to £2m sterling depending on CLM meeting certain revenue targets.

CLM currently provides employment-related training and education programmes to more than 300,000 people throughout the UK in a range of enterprises including licensed premises chains, food service companies, hotels, hospitals, prisons, supermarkets, shops and other businesses.

The hospitality sector alone employs some two million people and has a high demand for entry-level employee training. In addition, a further 760,000 replacement jobs arise each year providing an ongoing market opportunity. The company employs 40 people and reported audited 2004 revenues of £2.8m sterling (€4.2m) and earnings of £361k sterling (€531k) before interest and tax.

ThirdForce CEO Brendan O’Sullivan commented: “We see exciting potential for CLM within the ThirdForce group. This strategic acquisition expands our business into a wider range of e-learning categories and it advances our growth in the UK, which is a key market for our principal operating company Electric Paper.

“CLM is a dynamic young company with a successful and proven range of products that have sold more than €4.2m in its last financial year under the professional management of a highly motivated and experienced team,” O’Sullivan said.

ThirdForce today also reported interim results for the first six months of 2005. It reported revenues of €5.72m, which it says met management expectations for the first half of the financial year compared with €5.86mfor the same period a year ago. The company said operating profits before goodwill and amortisation increased by 43pc to €334k, from €234k in the same period a year ago.

By John Kennedy