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Investis makes major European acquisition


Leading Corporate Website Specialist Expands in Fast-growing Online Comms Market

Investis today announced the acquisition of Quartal Flife Oy, the Finnish-German online investor relations company, in a move which will establish Investis as the clear European leader in online corporate communications. The combined company will have over 1,000 clients in more than 20 countries globally, serviced by 180 employees operating in the UK, Germany, Finland, Italy and India. Pro forma revenues of the group in 2008 are projected to be around £12m.

Investis is the UK's leading corporate website specialist, providing services to around 500 clients including half of the FTSE100 and more than a third of the FTSE350. The company has around 100 clients across mainland Europe.

Commenting on the deal, Investis CEO Justin Walters said "The fit between the two companies is exceptional, not just in terms of products and geography, but also in our client-focused culture and shared ambition. We see huge opportunities in this market, as the centre of gravity in corporate communications shifts rapidly towards the online medium across Europe. Tough economic conditions will accelerate this change and the deal gives us the scale, the product portfolio and the market presence to capitalize on the opportunity it presents." Investis' research indicates that the £650 million online corporate communications market in Europe is set to grow by more than 10% annually over the next three years, despite the economic downturn.

Quartal Flife is the number one provider of investor relations tools for corporate websites in mainland Europe with more than 500 clients and market-leadership positions in Germany, Scandinavia, Austria, Switzerland and Benelux countries. Its award-winning portfolio of products includes advanced share charting functionality, as well as a broad range of financial and management reporting tools. Quartal Flife is a subsidiary of Quartal Group, a Finnish company specialising in financial technology and corporate governance solutions.

Aarne Aktan, CEO of Quartal Group and Chairman of Quartal Flife, said "We have always had great respect for Investis and the leadership position it has established in the UK corporate website market. We think that their corporate website proposition, based on public company expertise, value for money and client service excellence, is one which will do very well in our territories. Our respective clients will all benefit from the enhanced range of products and services we now offer and the continued investments we will make in technology and service." Aarne Aktan will join the Board of Investis and will help lead the integration of the two companies.

The transaction was financed by a mixture of equity and cash, partly funded by a 6m euro 5 year term loan from HSBC. Commenting on the financing Justin Walters said "We're delighted to have secured financing with a partner of HSBC's calibre and reputation. It is a powerful endorsement of the strong track records of Investis and Quartal Flife, as well as of the strategic rationale of the deal."

Paul Myles, HSBC Senior Corporate Banking Manager, said: "We are delighted to support Investis with this acquisition, which will strengthen the business' position in its market and support the directors' strategic objectives. The combined knowledge of their existing management teams coupled with the financial expertise of HSBC, in the UK and across Europe, establishes a strong foundation for the future.

"This deal highlights that finance remains available for businesses with sound propositions, despite the uncertainties caused by the economic downturn. We look forward to developing a strong long term relationship with Investis."

During the integration phase the company will be called Investis Flife in Finland, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, leveraging the strong trusted brand status of Flife in its home markets. The combined client portfolio includes half of the FTSE100, more than a third of the FTSE Eurofirst100 and almost two thirds of the DAX30. Many of these companies have won awards in recent years for the quality of their websites, including Stora Enso, BASF, Cadbury, Shell, TNT, Prudential, Danske Bank, Bayer, Benetton and BP. At The Investor Relations Society annual best practice awards on November 25th Investis clients won 8 awards.