One51 buys a stake in ThirdForce

22 Jun 2007

Former IAWS chairman and agribusiness mogul Philip Lynch’s One51 Capital has taken a 3.12pc stake in fast-growing Irish e-learning firm ThirdForce valued at around €1.5m that gives the company a market cap of €47m on the Dublin Stock Exchange.

In addition, the company’s chairman Pat McDonagh is understood to have increased his holding in the company by 0.72pc, spending an additional €345,620 on shares. This will give McDonagh a 16.9pc holding in ThirdForce

Earlier this week ThirdForce shareholders voted unanaminously to back the Irish company’s decision to acquire US firm MindLeaders Corporation, opening up the world’s largest e-learning market to the company.

MindLeaders is a long established and well-known US brand with a 25-year track record offering 2,000 learning courses to 850 organisations. ThirdForce is already established in Ireland, the UK, the Middle East and Africa. The combined businesses will have annual revenues of over €30m.

Speaking with this week, ThirdForce CEO Brendan O’Sullivan said further acquistions may be on the cards.

“We would never rule out further acquisitions,” O’Sullivan said. “We would like to build a business through organic development and acquisitions.

“There’s a stronger position to exploit assets in an enlarged group and we look forward to building our business in the US and expand in the UK. We’re always mindful of opportunities for acquisition.

Asked if he would be tempted to move the company from its London AIM and Dublin Stock Exchange listings to a NASDAQ listing or possibily dual-list, he replied: “AIM is one of the most progressive markets out there at the moment and it fits our needs for today. But we will always monitor the appropriateness of a market like the AIM versus NASDAQ. But for the moment AIM fits the bill.”

In terms of future trends impacting the e-learning business O’Sullivan said that it is still an embryonic industry and there are fantastic opportunities for diversification and opportunities for e-learning.

“Courses are still primarily delivered through the medium of a PC but other media that are beginning to feature include PDAs (personal digital assistants), iPods, mobile phones and interactive TV,” he said.

By John Kennedy